Dinosaurs are one of the things that have long fascinated both my kids and I. We have loved watching programmes about them, reading about them and creating dinosaur activities inspired by them. As they are older now though I really want to take their understanding and learning to the next level so we are looking at the dinosaurs from the 3 different periods and creating a timeline to show why the Megalosaurs and the Tyrannosaurs wouldn’t ever have hunted together. So here we go a DIY Dinosaur Timeline Activity for school kids that is perfect for pairing with reading Dinosaurs Before Dark.
Dinosaurs Before Dark ~ Magic Tree House by Mary Pope Osborne
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The first book in the Magic Tree House Series is Dinosaurs Before Dark in this early chapter book for kids learning to read you are introduced to the main characters for the series, Jack who is 8 and a half and his younger sister Annie who is just 7 years old, as well as the Magic Tree House. Before you head off in a prehistoric adventure with the kids.
Arriving in the Late Cretaceous Period they encounter some of the dinosaurs from the era including the terrifying Tyrannosaurus Rex and through the story, you and your child will get to learn a little bit about these dinosaurs.
Making A Dinosaur Timeline
Extending on the knowledge gained from the book we have created this DIY Dinosaur Timeline for your children and you to research, create and then use whilst learning a little more about dinosaurs and also a bit more about the history of the earth.
Don’t forget that you need to download the dinosaur research sheets and images to cut out and use.
Understanding the History of the Earth
Before you start to work on creating a timeline with your children it’s important that they understand that the history of the earth is divided up.
From Eons to eras, to periods, to epochs and ages earth has been changing over the last 4.54 billion years.
Within just one Eon, the Phanerozoic, life as we know it evolved and it is within this Eon, that the era that makes up the rise of the reptiles “the dinosaurs” exits.
The Mesozoic Era, the middle era. This Era is subdivided into the periods Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous and is where the timeline for the dinosaurs will focus.
If you would like to put it into context for your children in terms of the history of the earth you can draw a timeline and show where life as we know it and the dinosaurs fit.
See our example below and follow the instructions on our creating a Timeline of the History of the Earth if you want.
DIY Dinosaur Timeline for Kids to Make
- Printer & Ink
- Download and print the Dinosaur Timeline Resource – save the answer sheets to help if needed.
- Cut out around the dinosaurs for the timeline and label the reverse side
- Keep the dinosaur era research sheets for you and your child to complete
Making the Dinosaur Timeline
- Stick the two pieces of white cardstock together short sides joining.
- On the bottom of the cardstock (leaving enough room for labelling) draw a line that is 40cm long this represents the Mesozoic Era all 200 million years of it.
- With the first colour of paper cut out a strip 10cm long. This is the Triassic Period.
- On the second coloured paper cut another strip 11cm long. This is the Jurassic Period.
- With the third coloured paper cut a strip that is 16cm long. This represents the last period of the Mesozoic Era the Cretaceous.
Researching the Dinosaurs and Creating the Timeline
- Using the research sheets with the dinosaurs and a resource of your choice fill in the period in which the dinosaurs and other reptiles first appeared and then when they disappeared.The Mesozoic Era was from 251million years ago to 66million years ago we have created a timeline that is slightly longer than the era so you can include mammals or plants that would have come before or after the time.
- Once you have the research now it's time to assemble the timeline and add in the dinosaurs.
- Now take your 1st colour and place this to the left end of the line leaving a little gap to represent the end of the Paleozoic Era.
- At the end of the 1st strip, place the 2nd coloured paper. Then the 3rd.
- Label the strips in order Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous.
- Now glue on the dinosaurs and other reptiles.
- There are a lot of dinosaurs so we used coloured paper the same as the timeline to glue on the dinosaurs that we had no room for.
More Activities for Learning About Dinosaurs
Dinosaurs are so fascinating and we have created some fun activities in the past about dinosaurs check them out below these would be ideal to do alongside this timeline as part of a Dinosaur Unit Study Inspired by Dinosaurs Before Dark by Mary Pope Osborne.
Using toy dinosaurs – why not explore what the difference in their teeth shows about how they eat with this sorting and classification activity.
Explore how some of the dinosaur predators used their defences with this fun Dinosaur Science Experiment.
We know about dinosaurs because of the signs that they have left in the Geological Timeline. Their fossil evidence. You can explore these with your kids using our 2 fun fossil activities.
The first is looking at trace fossils – like the dinosaur footprints. Make up your own “mud” and then use the mud to make trace fossils with kids.
Trace fossils are just one sort of evidence the other is more complete skeletons or the molds of the skeleton. We have our own version to make with Salt Dough Mold Fossils.
Resources for Learning More About the Mesozoic Era and Dinosaurs
I hope we’ve explained enough above to give you the knowledge to create your own timeline however if you would like more information about The Mesozoic Era or “The Age of Reptiles” we recommend watching the YouTube video below with your child.
We’ve also put together a book list of dinosaur-themed fiction books for 6 – 9-year-olds that are perfect to read alongside Dinosaurs Before Dark if you want to explore this topic more with your kids.
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Cerys is a marine biologist, environmental educator, teacher, mum, and home educator from the UK. She loves getting creative, whether it is with simple and easy crafts and ideas, activities to make learning fun, or delicious recipes that you and your kids can cook together you'll find them all shared here on Rainy Day Mum.