Dinosaurs Before Dark Lesson Plan
Activities for before and after reading the book
- Grades: 1–2, 3–5
About this book
About this book
These activities are taken from Teaching with Favorite Magic Tree House Books available from Scholastic Professional Books.
In Dinosaurs Before Dark Jack and Annie are whisked back to prehistoric times where they encounter dinosaurs galore. Have students look closely at the cover of the book and describe what they see. Invite them to make a triple prediction about Annie, Jack, and the dinosaur: What role will each play in this adventure?
Make Jack Guess (Science and Language Arts)
Jack fills his notebook with facts about dinosaurs. Let students take turns playing Jack to test their dinosaur knowledge. Have each student choose a dinosaur. Ask children to record facts about their dinosaur, such as size, features, food, and time period. Invite a child to play the role of Jack. Ask a volunteer to reveal facts about his or her dinosaur without sharing its identity. If Jack guesses the dinosaur correctly, he or she stays in the chair. If Jack’s guess is incorrect, the other student takes the chair. The game continues until all students have shared their research.
Digging for Dinosaurs(Science)
Explain that scientists who study prehistoric life are called paleontologists. Let students practice paleontologist skills with this puzzling activity:
Enlarge the Paleontologist’s Puzzle (PDF). Make several copies of each and laminate for durability.
Cut each dinosaur into puzzle pieces. Place each set of pieces in a numbered envelope.
Divide the class into teams. Have each team put a puzzle together and record the following information:
Envelope Number, Number of Pieces, Characteristics, Dinosaur’s Identity, Deciding Reasons for This Identification.
Encourage students to use Dinosaurs: A Companion to Dinosaurs Before Dark to assist in identifying the dinosaurs.
Rotate the envelopes so that each team gets a chance to solve several puzzles. Bring students together to discuss findings. Did students agree on the identifications? If not, what might have been confusing?
Counting Baby Dinosaurs (Math)
Jack and Annie stumble upon Anatosaurus nests filled with eggs, a perfect invitation for practicing multiplication.
Divide the class into small groups. Give each group ten small paper cups (nests) and a handful of dried beans (dinosaur eggs).
Write a multiplication problem on the chalkboard—for example, 3 x 7. Explain that the first number is the number of nests (3) and the second is the number of eggs per nest (7).
Let students use their nests and eggs to show the problem and find the solution. Repeat with new problems.
Follow up by letting children write word problems to share—for example, “Jack and Annie found 6 Anatosaurus nests with 5 eggs each. They found 4 Stegosaurus nests with 4 eggs each. How many eggs did they find all together?”