Dinosaurs are fascinating to most children, young students, and many adults. The term literally means "terrible lizard."
Scientists who study dinosaurs are called paleontologists. They study footprints, waste, and fossils such as skin, bone, and teeth fragments to learn more about these ancient creatures. Over 700 species of dinosaurs have been identified by paleontologists.
Some of the most popular dinosaurs include:
- Tyrannosaurus Rex
Like today's modern animal kingdom, dinosaurs had a varied diet. Some were herbivores (plant eaters), some were carnivores (meat eaters), and others were omnivores (eating both plants and animals). Some dinosaurs were land-dwellers, others were ocean-dwellers, and others flew.
Dinosaurs are believed to have lived during the Mezosoic era, which included the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods.
Help your students learn more about these prehistoric creatures using the following free printables.
Vocabulary - The Jurassic Period
Many adults and students are probably familiar with the term "Jurassic" from popular movies such as Stephen Speilberg's 1993 film "Jurrasic Park" about an island filled with rampaging dinosaurs that were brought back to life. But Merriam-Webster notes that the term actually refers to a time period: "of, relating to, or being the period of the Mesozoic era between the Triassic and the Cretaceous… marked by the presence of dinosaurs and the first appearance of birds."
Use this vocabulary worksheet to introduce students to this and other dinosaur terms.
Word Search - The Terrible Lizard
Use this word search to introduce students to concepts associated dinosaurs, as well as the names of the most well-known terrible lizards.
Crossword Puzzle - Reptiles
This crossword puzzle will help students consider the definition of dinosaur terms as they fill in the squares. Use this worksheet as an opportunity to discuss the term "reptile" and how dinosaurs were examples of this kind of animal. Talk about how other kinds of reptiles ruled the earth even before the dinosaurs.04of 10
Talk about the difference between omnivores and carnivores after students complete this dinosaur challenge page. With the raging debate over nutrition in society, this is a great opportunity to discuss dietary plans and health, such as the vegan (no meat) vs. paleo (mostly meat) diets.05of 10
Dinosaur Alphabetizing Activity
This alphabet activity will allow students to place their dinosaur words in correct order. When they're done, write the terms from this list on the board, explain them and then have students write the definition of the words. This will show how well they know their Stegosauruses from their Brachiosauruses.06of 10
Pterosaurs - Flying Reptiles
Pterosaurs ("winged lizards") hold a special place in the history of life on Earth. They were the first creatures, other than insects, to successfully populate the skies. After students complete this Pterosaur coloring page, explain that these were not birds but flying reptiles that evolved along with the dinosaurs. Indeed, birds are descended from feathered, land-bound dinosaurs, not from the Pterosaur.07of 10
Dinosaur Draw and Write
Once you've spent some time covering the subject, have younger students draw a picture of their favorite dinosaur and write a short sentence or two about it on this draw-and-write page. Plenty of images exist depicting the what dinosaurs looked like and how they lived. Look up a few on the internet for students to view.08of 10
Dinosaur Theme Paper
This dinosaur theme paper gives older students a chance to write a couple of paragraphs about dinosaurs. Show students a documentary about dinosaurs on the internet. Many are available for free such as National Geographic's Jurassic CSI: Ultimate Dino Secrets Special, which recreates the ancient lizards in 3-D and also explains their structures using fossils and models. After watching, have students write a brief summary of the video.09of 10
Younger students can also practice their coloring and writing skills on this dinosaur coloring page. The page provides a written example of the word "dinosaur" with space for children to practice writing the word once or twice.10of 10
Archaeopteryx Coloring PageArchaeopteryx Coloring Page. Beverly Hernandez
This coloring page provides a great opportunity to discuss Archaeopteryx, an extinct primitive toothed bird of the Jurassic period, which had a long feathered tail and hollow bones. It was likely the most primitive of all birds. Discuss how the Archaeopteryx was, indeed, likely the oldest ancestor of modern birds, while the Pterosaur was not.
Updated by Kris Bales