As kids arrive: Nametags & Invent-a-Saurus worksheet
Read: Dinosaurs! by Gail Gibbons
I wanted to incorporate some writing into the program, along with the idea of "taking notes" since that's what the actual scientists do, albeit in a bit more high-tech fashion (I imagine). I created the cover using the Jurassic Park font and clip art from Microsoft. Inside are 4 pieces of white paper, and we folded the whole thing in half and stapled it with the big stapler we have for magazine repair. I set out pencils and clipboards at the dinosaur dig station so they could record what they found.
After we read Dinosaurs! together, I explained the stations and had the kids work through them at their own pace. They actually did a really good job of self-regulating their time at each station. I was thoroughly impressed!
Dino Dig Station
I happened to get the Dino Dig kit from Lakeshore during a sale, so it was much cheaper, but I would say the kit is worth the cost. It comes with 4 sifters and 4 brushes, along with 24 rubbery dinosaur skeletons. I purchased a shallow plastic tub and filled it with a mixture of play sand and leftover aquarium gravel. I knew this would be a popular station and was struggling to figure out how I could manage the number of kids there without having to tie myself to that area the entire program. Then I glanced upon some dinosaur hats I picked up at the dollar store and had my answer. If kids were at the station, there had to be a hat for them. At the beginning of the program they would all wear them (so fun!) but by the end they were really good at counting the hats and finding something else to do if there were too many kids.
Make Your Own Fossil Station
I made a homemade dough using coffee, coffee grounds, salt, and flour. Kids made pancakes and then pressed dinosaur feet (I happened to get these on sale or I wouldn't have purchased them) to make an impression. You could also use shells or plastic plants, which was my backup plan if I couldn't find affordable dinosaurs. We had them smoosh their fossils on wax paper, which they then put into a plastic sandwich bag to take home.
Prehistoric Puzzles Station
I found a dinosaur floor puzzle (c)1977 in a box labeled "dinosaur stuff" in our storage area, so the kids put that together on the table, and I also copied the Dinosaur Word Find from the CSLP manual. Some kids just took that to do at home.
Dinosaur Timelines Station
Dinosaurs were around for a long time, and different dinosaurs lived during different eras. I thought it would be fun to make a timeline to show that, but how do you make one simple enough to be done as one activity among many? Easy-- you make this. Volunteens cut out the brown paper from a roll of parcel paper, folded them, and punched the holes. I pulled a few dinosaurs from each era from Enchanted Learning's stock and printed them along with the appropriate labels.
Dinosaur Food Station
Somewhere on the Internet that is escaping me, I came across a recipe for a dinosaur trail mix consisting of twigs (pretzel sticks), fruit (raisins), and dinosaur footprints (Honeycomb cereal). Volunteens mixed a batch in a 2 gallon bag and portioned it out into small cups. Also at this station were my "Flip the Lid" containers.
I wanted to show how you could tell what a dinosaur ate by the kind of teeth they had. But how to make that fun and interactive? I ended up with the idea of taping a picture of a dinosaur along with a close up of their tooth to the lid of a to-go container, with a picture of a steak, salad, or both inside depending on if the dino was a carnivore, herbivore, or omnivore. This required a ton of image searching on the Internet, but turned out to be pretty fun.