Lessons & Units :: Digging Up Dinosaurs Kindergarten Unit

Read-Aloud Lesson: Digging Up Dinosaurs

Lesson Plan

Digging Up Dinosaurs | 490L

Digging Up Dinosaurs
Learning Goal
Summarize the steps necessary to collect, study, and build a dinosaur skeleton.

Part 1: Approximately 20 minutes

Part 2: Approximately 10-15 minutes

Part 3: Approximately 10-15 minutes

Necessary Materials

1. Detailed lesson plan
2. Graphic organizer for guided practice
3. Independent student worksheet

Not Provided:
Digging Up Dinosaurs

  1. This lesson is a close reading of the entire text. So it’s important to engage students often, to enhance their learning. Here are two tips:

    •   When you ask the more complex questions from the lesson, ask students to “turn-and-talk” or “buddy-talk” before answering.

    •   Once you are deep into the lesson, instead of asking students every question provided, ask them to share with you what questions they should be asking themselves at that point in the text. This is also a great opportunity to use "turn-and-talk."
  2. Suggested teacher language is included in the lesson.

  3. We recommend you read the book once to your students, either the day or morning before teaching the lesson.

  4. This research-based, read-aloud lesson may seem long. Why do students need the lesson to be this way?

Part 1: Teacher Modeling and Questioning


Write the learning goal on the board, then read the learning goal out loud with the class:

We will describe how to put a dinosaur skeleton together.

Transition Students into the Text
Teacher says: There are museums that have real bones of huge dinosaurs that lived millions of years ago. When the bones of a dinosaur are put together, they make a dinosaur skeleton. It takes a lot of work to find and put together a dinosaur skeleton. Let’s read about how it’s done!
Read more
Throughout this book, the main text is accompanied by speech bubbles, labels, and other supplements. For the purposes of this lesson, you need not read any of these supplements unless instructed to do so by the lesson directions.

Begin to read Digging Up Dinosaurs out loud. As you read each dinosaur name, point to the corresponding illustration of the dinosaur's skeleton. For example, as you read "I saw APATOSAURUS," point to the skeleton depicted on pages 4 and 5. When you get to the end of page 10, please stop. Page 10 ends with, “There hasn’t been a dinosaur around for 65 million years.”

Teacher asks: There hasn’t been a dinosaur around for how long?
Students answer: There hasn’t been a dinosaur around for 65 million years.
Teacher says: Dinosaurs lived millions of years ago. That’s a long, long, long time ago. And then all of the dinosaurs died off. There haven’t been any living dinosaurs on earth for a long, long, long time.
Read pages 12-13 out loud, then stop. Make sure to read the text of the diagram on page 13 which explains how fossils formed.
Teacher asks: What are fossils?
Students answer: The remains of plants and animals that died long ago.
Teacher asks: What did these remains of plants and animals turn to?
Students answer: These remains turned to stone.
Read more
Read pages 14-17 out loud, then stop.
Teacher asks: What must be done to the dinosaur bones before people can see them in museums?
Students answer: They must be dug out of the ground, slowly and patiently.
Teacher says: Yes, dinosaur bones need to be found and dug out of the ground before they can be put in a museum. Make sure to listen closely as I read the pages ahead.
Read page 18 out loud, then stop. Page 18 ends with, “With luck, someone spots a fossil bone poking through the rock.”
If students are confused by the word "quarries," explain that quarries are big pits, or holes, in the ground.
Teacher asks: What do fossil hunters first need to do?
Students answer: They first need to find a dinosaur.
Read page 19 out loud, then stop. Page 19 ends with, “They have to be very careful.”
If students are confused by the word "rubble," explain that rubble means broken pieces of stone or rock.
Teacher says (models thinking): After a fossil hunter finds a fossil bone, scientists chip, or hit away, at the rock close to the fossil. I am thinking that scientists are most likely chipping away at the rock close to the fossil so that they can make room around the fossil and dig it out.
Teacher asks: Let’s review - what are the scientists trying to do by chipping at the rock close to the fossil?
Students answer: They are trying to dig out the fossil.
Read page 20 out loud, then stop. Page 20 ends with, “...when someone tries to put the skeleton together.”
Teacher asks: Shellac is a kind of clear paint that can hold things together and make them shiny. Why is a bone brushed with shellac after it is uncovered?
Students answer: The shellac holds the bone together, so it won’t crumble.
Teacher asks: And after the bone is brushed with shellac, what is done to the bone?
Students answer: The bone is numbered.
Teacher asks: After the draftsman draws each bone in its exact position, what does the photographer do?
Students answer: The photographer takes pictures.
Teacher says: The draftsman draws each bone in its exact position, and the photographer takes pictures of the bones so that there can be no mix-up later, when someone tries to put the skeleton together.
Read pages 22-24 out loud, then stop. Be sure to read the caption below the picture on page 23. Page 24 ends with, “...and taken to the museum.”
Teacher asks: When the workers finish digging out all of the bones and they have been photographed in their exact positions, what happens next?
Students answer: Next, the bones are packed and taken to the museum. (Students may also include: Tiny bones are wrapped in paper and put in boxes, and some big bones are wrapped up like a cast and put into boxes with straw.)
Read pages 25-26 out loud, then stop. Page 26 ends with, “...and what it ate.”
Teacher asks: When the fossils arrive at the museum, what do scientists do with the fossils?
Students answer: The scientists at the museum finish digging out the fossils and then study them.
You can skip page 27 if you are running short on time, but please read page 28 out loud, then stop. Page 28 ends with, “The dinosaur skeleton looks just as it once did.”
Teacher asks: Finally, if enough bones have been collected, what are scientists able to do?
Students answer: Scientists are able to build a complete skeleton.
Read the rest of the book out loud.

Teacher says: Let’s review the steps used to collect fossil bones and build a complete dinosaur skeleton.

  1. Fossil hunters find a dinosaur.
  2. A team of experts digs out the fossils.
  3. The photographer takes pictures of the fossil bones.
  4. The bones are packed and taken to the museum.
  5. Scientists build a complete skeleton.

Part 2: Guided Practice and Discussion

For this oral lesson, cut out the five diagrams provided in the following pages. The diagrams represent different steps of collecting fossils and building a dinosaur skeleton. We recommend placing these diagrams on a board or screen that allows students to put them in the right order.
Teacher says: Now we are going to review the steps necessary to collect fossil bones and build a complete dinosaur skeleton. I have all of the steps here, but they are out of order. I need you to help me put them back in order.

Read the text for each step out loud to the class, then ask, "Which of these steps happens [first/second/third/etc.] when making a dinosaur fossil?"

As each step is correctly identified, move it to the correct sequential position on the board or screen.


After each graphic organizer has been completed and discussed with the class, ask the following two discussion questions.

Teacher asks: Why do we need different people, with different jobs, such as scientists and photographers, involved in collecting, studying, and building dinosaur skeletons?
Students answer: Different people are involved because they are good at different things which need to be done to collect, study, and build dinosaur skeletons.
Teacher asks: What could a scientist learn about a specific kind of dinosaur by putting all of its fossil bones together to make a life-size skeleton of that dinosaur?
Students answer: A scientist could learn how a dinosaur looked, or how tall or large the dinosaur was. A scientist could learn about whether a dinosaur ate meat or plants by looking at the dinosaur teeth.

Part 3: Student Independent Practice

Read each question out loud to your students and have each student complete the worksheet independently. For questions 5 A) and 6, you can have students draw their answers, answer orally, or write their answers depending on your students’ progress. If you have them write their answers, you may want to write the word(s) on the board for them to copy.

Texts & Materials

Standards Alignment

(To see all of the ReadWorks lessons aligned to your standards, click here.)

User Comments

Thanks,I love it !

Thank you so much!! I would very much like to try this with my special education 1st grader.

I Think you have some great ideas. The teacher language and what to say are helpful as we all need to use the child's language when talking with them. Thanks.

Awesome lessons but couldn't access the independent worksheets . Can you help me?

Hi Alexandra! You can find the independent practice worksheet under the green "Texts & Materials" tab at the top of the page.


thanks so much my kids love this!

very good..Awesome!


sounds good


I love it!