Dinosaur Digs: Digging Up Bones

By Jeanette Larson

Dinosaurs continue to fascinate young readers and scientists continue to dig up new information about them. The science of digging up bones is called paleontology. Although they seem as fantastical as dragons and unicorns, the fact that they were real allows for some interesting reading and programming.

Books to Share

Dinosaur Mountain: Digging into the Jurassic Age by Deborah Kogan Ray

Dinosaurs in Your Backyard: The Coolest, Scariest Creatures Ever Found in the USA by Hugh Brewster

Dinothesaurus: Prehistoric Poems and Paintings by Douglas Florian

Inside Outside Dinosaurs by Roxie Munro

Sabertooth by Patrick O'Brien

Books to Show or Booktalk

Danger in the Desert: True Adventures of a Dinosaur Hunter by Roger Cohen

Dinomummy: The Life, Death, and Discovery of Dakota, a Dinosaur from Hell Creek by Phillip Lars Manning

Dinosaur Cove: Tracking the Diplodocus by Rex Stone

Dinosaur Parade: A Spectacle of Prehistoric Proportions by Kelly Milner Halls.

Dinosaur Trouble by Dick King-Smith.

Dinosaurs: A Tour of the World's Most Important Finds by Nigel Marven

Finding the First T-Rex by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld

New Dinos: The Latest Finds! The Coolest Dinosaur Discoveries! by Shelley Tanaka

Digging for Bird-Dinosaurs: An Expedition to Madagascar by Nic Bishop

Bulletin Board

Pre-hysterical Reading

Use a website like Kids Domain, http://www.kidsdomain.com/brain/dino/riddles.html, to locate jokes and riddles about dinosaurs. Fold 8½" by 11" pieces of paper lengthwise. Using the bone pattern provided at the end of this chapter, or a similar pattern, cut out bones leaving the folded edge intact. Write out each riddle on the top bone and the answer on the bone under the flap. Cover the bulletin board with light brown paper and scatter the jokes and riddles around the board. If desired, add some book jackets for books about dinosaurs and prehistoric animals.


Dino Digs

Purchase or borrow a variety of small plastic dinosaurs. Crumple brown and green tissue paper or use loose grass from a hobby store, such as is used for model train displays, to set up a "dig site" in the display case. Display the dinosaurs in a scene and, if space permits, display some of the books on dinosaurs and fossils.


Purchase Dino-Mite Footprint Floor Clings from Oriental Trading Company, http://www.orientaltrading.com, or make your own by enlarging the pattern provided at the end of this chapter. Place the footprints on the floor leading from the children's desk to the 567 section of the shelves where readers will find books on dinosaurs.


Dino Chow

Place towel-dried leaves of lettuce on a platter to look like grass and foliage. Throw pretzel sticks, crackers, especially bone or twig shaped ones like Nabisco® Mixers Snack Mix, and Shredded Wheat® or other dry cereals onto the "grass." Provide small scoops to "dig" up a treat.


Dinosaur Stamps

Purchase dinosaurs stamps from Oriental Trading Company, http://www.orientaltrading.com, and allow each child to select their favorite.


Highsmith, http://www.highsmith.com/upstart, sells several different dinosaur themed bookmarks.

Costumes and Props

Encourage a local art class to make papier maché dinosaurs that can be used as props during programs or to display around the library. Use the instructions from a site like Coolest Homemade Dinosaur Costume Ideas, http://www.coolest-homemade-costumes.com/dinosaur-costume.html, to make costumes to wear while promoting the programs. Alternately, children love to wear "mascot" costumes.


I'm Bringing Home A Baby Dinosaur

(Traditional. Sing to the tune "I'm Bringing Home a Baby Bumblebee. Make up additional verses as desired.)

I'm bringing home a baby dinosaur.

Won't my mommy be so proud of me?

I'm bringing home a baby dinosaur.

Oh! He squished me!

I'm bringing home a baby dinosaur

Won't my mommy fall right through the floor?

I'm bringing home a baby dinosaur.

Oh! He stomped me.

I'm bringing home a baby dinosaur.

Won't my mommy kick me out the door?

I'm bringing home a baby dinosaur.

Oh! Eat chomped me!

Guess I won't do that anymore!

Rhymes and Poetry

The Ichthyosaurus


There once was an Ichthyosaurus

Who lived when the earth was all porous,

But he fainted with shame

When he first heard his name,

And departed a long time before us.

Read a couple of poems from Dinothesaurus by Douglas Florian. Show the brief clip of Florian reading "Barosaurus" at http://books.simonandschuster.com/Dinothesaurus/Douglas-Florian/9781416979784. Encourage the children to use a thesaurus and other library resources to write their own dino-poems.

Audio Recordings

"Dinosaur Tango" on Cool Creatures byMusic, Movement & Magination

Reader's Theater

"Dinorella" by Pamela Duncan Edwards available from Timeless Teacher Stuff, http://www.timelessteacherstuff.com/readerstheater/Dinorella.pdf.

Puppet Plays

"The Mysterious Egg" in One-person Puppet Plays by Denise Anton Wright (available through NetLibrary, a TexShare resource).

"Triceralocks and the Saber-tooth Bears" in Fractured Fairy Tales: Puppet Plays and Patterns by Marilyn Lohnes (available through NetLibrary, a TexShare resource).

Tongue Twister

Dino Danger

Many names of dinosaurs are tongue twisters. Encourage the children to write their own based on words like triceratops, allosaurus, and velociraptor. To write tongue twisters, create four lists of words: nouns, names, verbs, and descriptors. Use one word from each list to create a sentence that makes sense but is tough to say. Tongue twisters can be a single line repeated faster and faster until the speaker is totally confused or a series of sentences. Here is one example: Danny dinosaur danced on dandelions.

Riddles and Jokes

Where does a T-Rex sleep?

Anywhere he wants to!

Why was the triceratops wearing an Ace bandage on his leg?

Because he was dino-sore!


Fossilize This
  • Dead bug bodies with hard shells (optional)
  • Leaves and seeds
  • Small bones (cleaned and dried chicken bones)
  • Small shells
  • Crayola® Air-Dry Clay
  • Stylus or Exacto knife (optional)

In advance, collect an assortment of items such as dead bugs (like roly-polys), leaves, shells, and small bones. Provide each child with a handful of air-dry clay. Flatten the clay. Select an item to fossilize and press it firmly into the clay. After it has made an impression in the clay, remove the item. Have a stylus or an Exacto knife or other pointed tool to help lift the item out of the clay if it is tamped down too much. Allow the clay to dry.

Expedition Hats


  • Plastic visor style hats
  • Old magazines, especially those with nature scenes
  • Craft glue
  • Scissors
  • Sand
  • Brown construction paper
  • Small plastic tools and dinosaurs (optional)
This is a photo of a plastic visor style hat that has been decorated with nature scenes and expedition type photos.

Photograph by Debbie Gonzales; used with permission.


Purchase plastic visor style hats from a craft supply store. If desired, also purchase some small plastic garden tools and dinosaurs. These need to be small enough to fit on the visor. Gather magazines and discarded picture books that include nature scenes. Provide the children with a visor and encourage them to use the materials provided to decorate their visor to create a unique expedition hat.

Games and Activities

I Am a Paleontologist


Show this 3-minute music video by They Might Be Giants.

Drawing Dinosaurs

Download the step-by-step instructions for drawing a stegosaurus, based on Ralph Masiello's Dinosaur Drawing Book, http://www.charlesbridge.com/productdetails.cfm?PC=4432, and let the children improve their drawing skills.

Web-Based Activities

Brainteaser: Dinosaurs


Test your dinosaur knowledge with this online game.

Dinosaur Cove


Learn a lot about dinosaurs while playing games, like Fossil Hunting, and exploring various dinosaur activities.

Dinosaurs for Kids


Explore the world of dinosaurs, watch short movies, play games, and learn how fossils are made.

Walking With Dinosaurs: Games


Play the fossil hunting game to find dinosaur fossils among the rocks on a beach.

Design a dinosaur, test your knowledge of bones, or practice using the tools of paleontology with these games developed to support the Walking with Dinosaurs film experience.

Web 2.0

War of the Dinosaurs

Introduce the children to radio plays like Orson Wells' "War of the Worlds." Ask them to write their own radio script for a "War of the Dinosaurs" story, where dinosaurs return and wreck havoc on Texas. After the script has been edited and finalized, let the children use an online open source software product like Audacity, http://audacity.sourceforge.net/, to record and edit your local radio play. Place the radio play on your website for all to enjoy.

Guest Speakers

Check local colleges for a paleontologist or geologist who could come speak to the children about the age of the dinosaurs.

Dinosaur George Blasing, http://www.dinosaurgeorge.com/, is a San Antonio-based paleontologist who speaks to groups. He's been a popular guest at libraries around the state. If you can't afford to bring him to your community, check out his "Ask Dinosaur George" section for video of him answering questions from kids.

Host a virtual visit with dinosaur scientist Jack Horner. The short video clip is available through the Discovery Channel at http://news.discovery.com/videos/human-jack-horner-dino-digger-cool-jobs.html. The curator of paleontology at the Museum of the Rockies, Horner receives email from a lot of kids about his controversial theories on dinosaurs. Learn more about him at http://www.museumoftherockies.org/Home/EXPLORE/Dinosaurs/PeopleinPaleo/JackHorner/tabid/389/Default.aspx.


Bizarre Dinosaurs (50 minutes)

Digging Up Dinosaurs (30 minutes)

Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (93 minutes)


Dinosaur Adventure 3-D

Dinosaur Hunter

Magic School Bus Explores in the Age of Dinosaurs


Dinosaurs: Discovery Channel


Everything about dinosaurs is gathered here, along with the latest news about finds and fun games to play.

Detail Detective


It takes a good eye for detail to be a dinosaur hunter. This online game encourages players to spot the differences between two pictures with ever increasing complexity.

Professional Resources

Dinosaurs: Encyclopedia Prehistorica by Robert Sabuda

This amazing pop-up book won't hold up long in circulation but is worth having for display during programs.

Dinosaur Corporation


This online store offers all things related to dinosaurs.

Dinosaur Valley State Park Video


Show this video from a Texas state park near Glen Rose, TX to see some of the best preserved dinosaur tracks in the world.



Scholastic Publishing's website offers information, ideas, and program resources related to dinosaurs.

Kinetic City: Bones to Pick


This educational module created by the American Association for the Advancement of Science encourages kids to try and recreate a dinosaur skeleton from bone cards.

Walking With Dinosaurs: The Arena Spectacular


This site supports the BBC theatrical event that recreates 15 life-size dinosaurs. The site information about each of the dinosaurs, as well as background on how the show was created.

Craft Materials

Pre-Hysterical Reading Bulletin Board Bone Pattern

Printer Friendly PDF Version (113 KB) (Full Page)

A full page of a Pre-Hysterical Reading Bulletin Board Bone Pattern.


Dinosaur Footstep Decoration Pattern

Printer Friendly PDF Version (426 KB) (Full Page)

A full page of a Dinosaur Footstep Decoration Pattern. Each foot has three toes.


Texas Reading Club 2011 Programming Manual / Dig Up a Good Book!

Published by the Library Development Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Page last modified: June 14, 2011