Big Dinosaurs! Storia Teaching Guide
- Grades: PreK–K, 1–2
Big Dinosaurs! invites young readers to find out about the coolest reptiles to ever walk the earth. With realistic full-page pictures and dynamic design, the dinosaurs seem to pop right off the page! The factual text is punctuated by special-feature questions that challenge readers to make connections with other species in the animal world.
The book tells the story of dinosaurs by describing some of their important characteristics— beginning with their classification as egg-laying reptiles that were terrestrial, or land-dwelling animals. Readers learn about one of the tallest dinosaurs—the brachiosaurus— and one of the smallest dinosaurs—the compsognathus. They meet carnivores, herbivores, and the smartest dinosaur—the troodon.
By the end of the book, students have met T-Rex, the velociraptor, the stegosaurus, the triceratops, and more—all pictured in close-up illustrations. The book concludes with a short discussion of why the dinosaurs became extinct and how dinosaur fossils tell us about these giants that once roamed the earth.
Teaching the Book
How many dinosaurs can you name? Big Dinosaurs! begins with this question and then delivers fascinating facts about dinosaurs to curious young readers. The book provides an opportunity to discuss with students what is fact and what is make-believe about dinosaurs as well as to teach them about the classification of animal characteristics. Students will engage in activities including “building” a dinosaur online and writing dinosaur riddles.
Theme Focus: Science Nonfiction
Comprehension Focus: Classification
Language Focus: Dinosaur Descriptors
Get Ready to Read
Is it Real or Make-Believe?
Young learners will likely have read books or seen TV shows and movies that fictionalize dinosaurs and even take children on field trips back to the age of dinosaurs. Explain to students that they will be reading a science nonfiction book that is all based on real facts.
Help students distinguish between real and make-believe before the book is read. Play a Real or Make-Believe game on Scholastic.com with students that presents a quiz of nine real or make-believe choices about dinosaurs. The game refers to other books about dinosaurs that you may wish to share later with students. Project the game on a whiteboard or guide students to play on their own computers with your guidance.
Preview and Predict
Have students preview the cover of Big Dinosaurs! Encourage them to ask questions about the dinosaur they see there. Record their questions and come back to answer them when they’ve finished reading the book.
The book includes important science content-area words that relate not only to dinosaurs, but to the animal world in general. The most important of these words are defined in the glossary at the end of the book. Because the words are challenging for young readers, you may want to take the time to define them at the point of use in the book, using text and visual clues to help students understand the meanings.
Use Resource #1: Vocabulary Cards and distribute copies to students.
- reptiles (p. 1)
- species (p. 1)
- terrestrial (p. 5)
- carnivores (p. 15)
- herbivores (p. 15)
- predators (p. 26)
- extinct (p. 28)
- fossils (p. 29)
Words to Know: Content-Area Vocabulary
Read aloud the following sentence starters. Ask students to finish each sentence with the name of an animal that they have read about in the book or that they know about from other sources.
- An example of a reptile is a __________.
- An example of a carnivore is a _________.
- One animal that is extinct is a _________.
- An animal that is a predator is a _________.
- An example of a herbivore is a __________.
As You Read
Reading the Book
Read the book aloud to students, modeling fluency and expression. Encourage students to follow along in their own books, studying the illustrations as each page is read. The read-aloud will familiarize students with the text and build their listening skills.
Reread the book, asking students to read their copies at the same time with their eyes on the text. Take time to ask students to answer the featured questions in the text, such as “What other animals lay eggs?” Use these questions as a springboard to challenge students to generate their own questions about the text.
Big Question: Critical Thinking
Ask students to think about this question as they read and be ready to answer it when they’ve finished the book. Write the question on chart paper. What do you think would happen to dinosaurs if they were alive today?
Explain to students that scientists put living things into groups according to certain characteristics. This is called classification. For example, humans and other animals are classified into two big groups of males and females. Ask students how many males and how many females are in the class.
Ask students to list ways that dinosaurs are classified into groups. Answers may include whether they are terrestrial (land-dwelling) and whether they are carnivores or herbivores.
Use the graphic organizer on Resource #2: Classification to model for students how scientists classify animals, including dinosaurs. Project the page on a white board or create it on chart paper to share with the class.
The book tells us that dinosaurs were terrestrial or land-dwelling animals. From the pictures in the book, I can see that all the dinosaurs walked around on the land. What other animals live on land? There are lots of them—elephants, horses, dogs, chipmunks, and humans. All those animals and many more belong to the classification of terrestrial animals. Now let’s list some animals that are water animals or animals that fly in the air.
With students’ input, fill in the rest of the organizer. Extend the lesson by asking students to name other animals that are reptiles, that lay eggs, that are carnivores, etc.
After You Read
Questions to Discuss
Lead students in a discussion of these focus story elements.
1. Science Nonfiction
Look at pages 2–3 which show a dinosaur with six eggs in its nest. (Sample Answer: Baby dinosaurs hatch from eggs.) What would be a make-believe story about the dinosaurs on these pages? (Sample Answer: Six baby dinos would hatch and then talk to each other.)
Look at the picture of the velociraptor on pages 20–21 and listen as I reread the text. Do you think the velociraptor is a carnivore or a herbivore? Why? (Sample Answer: It is a carnivore because it has sharp teeth and catches food with its long claws.)
3. Dinosaur Descriptors
What is an example of a dinosaur fossil? What could it tell scientists about the dinosaur it came from? (Sample answer: A dinosaur bone could tell scientists how big the dinosaur was.)
Questions to Share
Encourage students to share their responses with a partner or small group.
1. Text to Self
Which dinosaur do you think is the most interesting or amazing? What do you like about this dinosaur?
2. Text to World
Do you know where you can visit a dinosaur skeleton? Are there any museums near you that have dinosaur fossils or skeletons?
3. Text to Text
What other books have you read or what TV shows or movies have you seen about dinosaurs? Were they true facts about dinosaurs? Or were they make-believe? Which kind of book, TV show, or movie do you like best—true or make-believe?
Content Area Connections
Dinosaur Counting Book
Challenge students to create a counting book titled Dinos 1 to 10! Divide the ten pages of the book among the members of the group. Assign each student the numbers they will create pages for. Suggest that they use the dinosaurs in Big Dinosaurs! as models for their drawings. Collect the pages and put them together into a class dinosaur counting book.
Interview a Dinosaur
Pair students with partners to role-play a make-believe interview with a dinosaur. Ask the partners to first choose the dinosaur they want to interview and then decide on the roles each will play—the interviewer or the dinosaur. They might start the interview with a question like: “What did you eat for breakfast?”
Build a Dinosaur
Students will have fun using their knowledge about dinosaurs while playing this online game. Guide students to match a dinosaur head, legs, tail, and body from clickable options to “build” a complete dinosaur.
Dinosaur Jigsaw Puzzles
Print out or copy pictures of dinosaurs from free-use sources onto heavy stock paper. Challenge students to create dino jigsaw puzzles by drawing puzzle pieces on the back of the pictures and then cutting the pieces out. Suggest that they make ten to twelve pieces per puzzle. Then have students exchange puzzles and piece them back together.
Asking Questions about Dinosaurs
Generating questions is an important skill for students to practice in both science and in reading comprehension. Have each student choose a favorite dinosaur in the book and carefully study its picture. Model questions for them such as: “Why does it have three horns?” or “Why is its neck so long?” Then help students dictate or write a list of five questions about their dinosaurs. When they are finished, talk about how and where they might find the answers to their questions.
Don't Forget the Big Question
Give each student an opportunity to answer the big question. Encourage students to support their answers with ideas from the text. Tell them there is no one right answer. What do you think would happen to dinosaurs if they were alive today?
Assign students to write riddles about their favorite dinosaur using the Big Activity: Dinosaur Riddles. Ask students to write three clues about the dinosaur and then ask: “What dino am I?” For example: Clue #1: I have three horns. Clue #2: My skin is scaly. Clue #3: I have short legs.” On the back of the page, students can draw a picture of their dinosaur and write the dinosaur name. Encourage students to exchange their riddle pages and guess the dinosaurs’ names.
This Storia e-book has the following enrichments to enhance students’ comprehension of the book.
- Picture Starter
- Scratch & See
- Word Search
- Multiple Choice Text
- Word Match
- Touch the Page
- Word Bird
About the Author
Tori Kosara is the author of several science books for children including Big Sharks, Hibernation, Wild Weather Around the World, and Lonesome George Finds His Friends. She lives and works in New York and visits London, England frequently.
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