By Mansour Sheibany
University of Idaho

ITV Series: Reading Rainbow "Digging Dinosaurs"

The teacher will introduce the unit to the students with an activity that involves hunting eggs. Students will learn to recognize the different body shapes, colors and sizes of dinosaurs during the video "Digging Dinosaurs". They will then be able to use their background knowledge and discover what creatures of the past looked like.  Included are several lesson plans based on the "Digging Dinosaurs" video by Reading Rainbow. 

Lesson 1 Lesson 2 Lesson 3 Lesson 4 Dinosaur Definitions Bibliography Dinosaur Drawings

Learning Objectives

  • Students will be able to demonstrate their knowledge of these creatures from the past (dinosaurs) by creating them in their drawings.
  • Students will also be able to use their imagination and draw these creatures from the past. Students will estimate different sizes of these creatures and compare them with other student's drawings in the class.
  • Students will make a variety of designs for the background display for their project.
  • Students will make a display of their dinosaur's eggs and habitat.


  • Reading Rainbow video tape
  • Different shaped eggs
  • White construction paper
  • Water color paint of all colors

Pre-Viewing Activities

To introduce the unit the teacher will create a story about the creatures roaming in their classroom after school hours and during the night. The teacher will engage students by telling them that some people have heard these creatures calling out words that sound like "eggs, eggs, eggs."

Focus for Viewing

  • Viewing the Reading Rainbow video tape students will notice the different shaped heads, bodies, and paws of these creatures.
  • Students will notice the differences between the two dinosaur's sizes.
  • Another focus for the viewing would be for the students to notice the difference between the two dinosaur's colors.

Viewing Activities

The teacher will start the video at the beginning of the program where the dinosaurs are fighting with each other. Pause the tape when one of the creatures is displayed on the screen. Have the students notice the head shape of this dinosaur. Start the tape again. When the second dinosaur appears, pause the tape and have the students note the shape of the head of this dinosaur. Resume the tape until the first dinosaur appears again. Stop the tape and talk to the students about the body shape of this dinosaur. Resume the tape until the second dinosaur appears, then pause the tape. Have the students describe the different body shape of each dinosaur. Resume the tape. Where the first dinosaur appears, have the students note the color of the dinosaur. Start the tape again and when the second dinosaur appears and have students note the color of this dinosaur.

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Post Viewing Activities

Review with the students all the differences between the dinosaurs they saw in the videotape.

Remind the students that others have heard these creatures repeatedly saying, "eggs, eggs, eggs". Ask the students to assist you in finding these eggs around the room. Tell the students that they can each find only one egg.

Also, tell the students that after they find their egg they are to sit at their own desks and wait for the rest of the class to finish.

Students will use the eggs they have found, the images they remember from the video and their own imagination to create a creature they believe will be produced from the eggs they have found.


After the students have drawn their own dinosaurs, have them form groups of two and compare their dinosaur drawings with each other. Emphasize to the students that they need to notice the difference in the size, shape and color of each dinosaur. The students will note how their dinosaur compares with the others, for example, if one is bigger or smaller.

ITV Series: Reading Rainbow "Digging Dinosaurs"

Lesson 1 

Students will learn the method of researching and writing a report. They will learn physical as well as social characteristics of the dinosaurs of their choosing. Different learning media such as the library, videos, and the Internet will be used for their research. Students will use the different media types to learn how to take notes.

Learning Objectives

  • Students will learn more detailed information about the dinosaurs by researching their particular creature.
  • Students will learn how to research and write about the dinosaurs.
  • Students will learn how to use the keyboard.
  • Students will learn to use different media as resources in finding more information about their particular dinosaurs.
  • Students will be able to learn about the different habitats of the dinosaurs.
  • Students will learn about the different sizes and lengths of the dinosaurs.
    Students will compare their dinosaurs with ordinary objects.


  • Reading Rainbow videotape
  • Library access
  • Internet access
  • Paper
  • Writing utensils

Previewing Activities

The teacher will explain to the students that the drawing they did was to help them guess the shapes, sizes, and colors of the dinosaur species.
In addition, the teacher will explain that this is the sort of guessing that scientists make before they continue with their research. The name for these guesses is THEORY.

Discuss with the students how, by drawing these creatures, they now have a theory of what these creatures would look like. Explain how they, like scientists, will research their findings to see if they are correct.

The teacher will explain that each student is required to use two methods of research, such as the library or Internet. Discuss with the students how they need to find a dinosaur that they would like, research the species and discover as much information about them as possible, such as the color of its skin, what it ate, and where it lived.

Lesson 2
Focus for Viewing

The focus for this viewing is to help students understand what type of information could be discovered about the dinosaurs.
Students will be able to understand how this information could be used. Each student will make a list of the characteristics of the dinosaurs in the video.

Viewing Activity

Start the video at the segment where the narrator walks into the construction field. Stop the video after the narrator explains how each fossil can be found by these machines. Discuss with the students different common sites where scientists will be able to find some information about the dinosaurs. Start the video again. Stop the video after Aliki (the book narrator) names each individual species of dinosaurs and describes the characteristics of each. Start the video again and continue until the last dinosaur is named.

Lesson 2
Post Viewing Activity

The teacher will review with the students the different characteristics of each species of dinosaurs. Also, the teacher will discuss the different habitats of the dinosaurs.
After the students have found their resources the teacher will assist the students in collecting data for their project. 

In assisting the students the teacher will organize them into groups of three and discuss their method of data collection. The teacher will have one student read a paragraph and then discuss what he/she learned from this paragraph. The teacher will use this method for all the groups in the class.

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Lesson 3

Learning Objectives

  • Students will discuss the different characteristics, names and habitats that dinosaurs have.
  • Students will also learn how to use a Venn Diagram.
  • Students will be able to categorize the characteristics of dinosaurs by creating a Venn Diagram and by placing each dinosaur, according to characteristics, in the correct section of the diagram.


8 1/2 x 11 board
Venn Diagram drawn on cardboard

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The teacher will ask the students to make a list of all the different features in dinosaurs that they remember from watching the video

The teacher will discuss with the students all the different characteristics of dinosaurs that students may have learned in the past few days.

Explain to the students that they have learned not only colors and shapes, but also what these dinosaurs eat and where they lived.

The teacher will discuss with the students that all of the dinosaur species may have some features in common and some features that are different, such as their eating habits.

Ask the students to assist you in finding what common and different features these species have.The teacher will use the laminated cardboard with the Venn Diagram drawn in the middle of the cardboard.

The students will share their knowledge of their dinosaur's eating habits with the class and designate where each dinosaur will be  placed in the diagram.

Review with the students the names of each dinosaur and emphasize what carnivore, herbivore and omnivore mean. Emphasize on the pronunciation of each word and what each means.

Lesson 4

Learning Objectives

  • Students will learn how to pronounce dinosaurs' names and their eating habits.
  • Students will also learn the geographical locations where different species of dinosaurs were discovered, by using a world map.
  • Students will look at dinosaur drawings and use their imagination to recreate one or two species of a dinosaur into silhouettes. On the back of their cutout, they will paste information for future reference. Students will use their prior research to place the dinosaur silhouettes' onto the geographical map.
  • Students will also learn how to draw and measure egg shapes applying the methods of Math/Pseudo geometry.
  • Students will be able to use prior knowledge about dinosaurs they have studied and demonstrate their knowledge of the dinosaurs' geographic locations.
    Students will be able explain the eating habits of many different dinosaurs.


  • Black construction paper
  • heavy white drawing paper
  • ruler
  • pencil
  • colored crayons
  • white crayons
  • real whole almonds
  • scissors
  • tape
  • very large sheet of white butcher paper
  • black & white outlined world map transparency
  • colored world map transparency

Focus for Viewing

The specific focus for the students will be the dinosaurs eating habits. Observe that some dinosaurs eat plants, meat, eggs or combinations. Students will also focus and learn that dinosaurs have been discovered all over the world on different continents.

Previewing Activity
Teacher will review the prior dinosaur name segment from the Reading Rainbow "Digging Dinosaurs" tape. The teacher will introduce new dinosaur terms with information about the meaning of the words for example, the paleontologists. (Paleontologists - is a person(s) who study ancient life).

Viewing Activities
START the "Digging for Dinosaurs" video at the part where the narrator is walking into the construction site area. STOP the video when he is next to the jeep. Interact with the students' by discussing common places where dinosaur fossils have been found.
START the video again at the dinosaur name pronunciation segment then STOP after the discovery of the fossil section from the book.

The teacher will write dinosaurs names with the correct spelling and pronunciation on the chalkboard. The teacher will help the students orally practice pronouncing the dinosaurs' names.

The teacher will review with students that dinosaurs have been discovered all over the world and ask students to name some common places that dinosaur fossils have been found and some of their eating habits? Teacher will show the students' a colored transparency world map and indicate some areas on the world map where dinosaur fossils have been discovered.

Post Viewing Activity part 1

Students' will use prior information from the video, book, research and pictures that are placed around the room and recreate their own dinosaurs through silhouettes.

Students will use a white crayon to draw the silhouetted dinosaur onto black construction paper and cut it out with their scissors.
The teacher will hand out dinosaur definition sheet  with the name and information of the dinosaurs and help students' match which name goes with the students dinosaur.

The student will cut the section and glue the information onto the back of their dinosaur. (The student will have this information to share with their parents and to help the students to remember what they have learned).

NOTE: teacher, use the black and white outlined world map transparency to enlarge the map and retrace it onto a large sheet of white butcher paper or have the students help you outline the world map and label the dinosaurs' locations.

The students will interact by placing their dinosaurs' according to their species into the correct geographical locations on the outlined world map. (Tape will be used to attach dinosaurs' to the outlined world map or thumbtacks if a bulletin board is used).

Post Viewing Activity part II:

Students will use a pencil, ruler and heavy drawing paper turned horizontally.  Students will watch the teacher demonstrate these step-by-step measurements and shapes on the chalkboard, following along on with their own paper. The students will mark one dot at the top of the ruler and the second dot at the 7-inch mark. This will create a lengthwise space of 7 inches in between the two dots. Connect the dots to make an oblong oval shaped egg.

NOTE: teacher, show the students the almonds shape to help them understand the second egg shape they will be drawing.

For the second egg shape: mark one dot at the top of the ruler and the second dot at the 4-inch mark. This will create a lengthwise space of 4 inches between the two dots. Connect the dots to make a long almond shaped egg. Students observe the different egg shapes and measurements that dinosaurs were believed to have laid.

After students have finished this pseudo math lesson, tell them to color their eggs with crayons as they think that particular dinosaurs egg would conform to.

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