AudienceChildren and families, Early years
Learning stageEarly years
Learning areaEnglish, Science
TypeLearning journey, Teaching resources
On this page...
Learning journeys offer a scaffolded approach to exploring a topic both in your pre-school and at the Museum. Follow our learning journey to deepen your students’ knowledge and understanding of dinosaurs and fossils.
Dinosaurs are a group of land-dwelling reptiles with a set of physical features that distinguish them from all other reptiles. They include the extinct animals we know from fossils and the birds we see today. Investigate the main physical features of dinosaurs here.
Fossils are the remains of past life preserved in rock, soil or amber. Generally, the remains were once the hard parts of an organism, such as bones and shell. There are different types of fossils including trace, mineralised, impression and fossils with some organic material preserved.
Through this learning journey students will:
- learn that dinosaurs were land-dwelling animals.
- learn some of the main features of dinosaurs.
- understand that we know about dinosaurs through fossil evidence.
Early Years Learning Framework outcomes: 1.2; 4.1; 4.2; 4.4; and 5.1
Prepare your students
An Acknowledgement of Country is a statement that pays respect to the Traditional Custodians of the Country that you are learning or meeting on and recognises their ongoing relationship with Country. The Australian Museum respects and acknowledges the Gadigal people as the Custodians of the land on which the Museum stands.
Which First Nations Country or Nation are you on today? If you are unsure contact a local First Nations organisation to find out. You might like to start with the NSW Aboriginal Land Council and the Aboriginal Education Consultative Group.
As a class or group, give an Acknowledgement of Country for where you are.
What do you know about dinosaurs?
Brainstorm ideas about dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals.
Can you name any dinosaurs? Can you describe your favourite dinosaur?
Show some pictures of dinosaurs and discuss their main features. Notice that they are all land-dwelling animals (reptiles) and their legs are positioned directly underneath their bodies.
Move like a dinosaur!
Using a picture of a dinosaur, reiterate to students that dinosaurs' legs are positioned directly underneath their body, in comparison to prehistoric lizards (eg. Megalania), whose legs sprawl out from the sides.
Ask students to demonstrate this by walking like a lizard - they can take a crawling position and then move their arms and legs out to the side as they move awkwardly!
Then ask students to walk like a dinosaur with their arms and legs positioned directly under their body. This should demonstrate that the dinosaurs could walk faster and less awkwardly.
Discuss how we know that dinosaurs existed
Reiterate that dinosaurs were land-dwelling by playing our "Am I a dinosaur?" Kahoot! quiz and discuss the main ideas.
Conclude by asking the students if they know the name of the scientist who studies dinosaurs (Palaeontologist), and how we know dinosaurs existed (fossils).
At the Museum
Visit and explore our Dinosaurs exhibition which showcases dinosaurs and fossils from Australia and around the world. Encourage your early years students to watch the video about the Winton Trackway (north end of the exhibition), and to touch the real fossils on display near the video.
Read our tips on how to use our exhibitions.
Try out our Dinosaur conversation starters with your early years students, an informal and fun way to engage them in the content of the exhibition.
Back in the classroom
Have a discussion with your students about the dinosaurs and fossils seen during the excursion. Share some pictures and ask the following questions:
Can you describe some of the dinosaurs you saw at the Museum?
How do you think they moved?
What types of food do you think they ate?
What type of evidence gives palaeontologists clues about dinosaurs?
What other prehistoric animals did you see during the excursion?
Australian dinosaur fossils and predator/prey relationships
Use this classroom activity to investigate the fossilised Winton Trackway. Ask your students to pretend to be the dinosaurs discovered on the trackway by re-enacting the directions and ways they think they moved. What do fossil footprints tell us about dinosaurs?
Create your own dinosaur world by making your own dino-rama of carnivorous dinosaurs using this classroom activity.