Dino Hunt in Education

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Dino Hunt is a game that a teacher can use in the classroom as is! This can be especially powerful as a reward for work done early and well – letting those who do well play a game will encourage the other students.

Right out of the box, Dino Hunt is an educational game in many ways! Play of the game encourages:

  1. reading skills,
  2. basic math, as the players calculate their energy usage,
  3. decision making – which dinosaurs do you hunt to maximize your energy?
  4. classification – each dinosaur has to be placed in the correct time period, and certain Special cards require a distinction between Herbivore and Carnivore
  5. acquisition of dinosaur knowledge – each card includes at least one scientific fact which students will tend to read and absorb. This last point can be used as an indicator of how well they really are learning . . . tell each student that they must report the most interesting fact they discover back to the teacher after the game. (Don't overlook the Special cards – most of them are based on specific facts or theories, though a few are just "game cards.")

For busy teachers with many levels of students in a classroom, letting four to eight students play a game in the corner of the room can be a relief – especially when you realize that they are not simply wasting time.

Teachers are welcome to make enlarged photocopies of the cards, either for classroom use or for coloring.

Finally, individual cards make good, inexpensive motivators – most students will love them!

The cards in Dino Hunt can be used in many other ways, however! This supplement is merely to stimulate your imagination – teachers will find many more educational uses. (And we'll welcome your suggestions, to be added to later editions of this guide and posted on our web site! Send them to sj@sjgames.com.)

This supplement is divided into PRIMARY (grades K-3) and INTERMEDIATE (grades 4-6). Some of the activities can be used at a higher or lower level in the other group, however, so at least scan both sections.

Primary Activities – Grades K-3:

If your Dino Hunt collection includes a fair number of duplicate cards, a simple recognition activity is to have the younger children match them. Start to lay the cards out in a large rectangle, say six cards wide by as deep as needed. As you show the group the next card, ask them if it should be on its own, or can it go on top of a similar card? They'll eagerly scan the cards on the table, trying to be the first to spot the duplicate. Make sure you have lots of duplicates, though, as the students may get frustrated if the first dozen cards are all unique!
Younger children learn a lot by sorting cards by type. Ask them to sort dinosaurs by those that use all four legs to walk with versus those that go on two legs. Then separate by Carnivores versus Herbivores, explaining those terms. You can sort dinosaurs by main color, or by those that have horns versus those without horns, and so on.
This simple activity is for those learning the alphabet. They won't be able to pronounce the dinosaur names, but they'll have a sense of accomplishment if they can simply sort them alphabetically. Reassure them that this is a necessary first step to being able to master dinosaur names, and they'll be eager to try it!
Pass out one card to each student, and have them write a simple description of the dinosaur: size, color, what it might be eating, etc.
As dinosaur-related activities, pass out a card to each student and ask them to draw it on a different piece of paper. Cards can be used as references to make dinosaur hats that resemble the dinosaur head. The class could make a group mobile: each student draws one dinosaur and prints a fact about it on the back, and the teacher assembles them into a mobile. Students can also make "My Own Dinosaur Book" with pictures, facts, and figures such as height and weight (found on the back of each creature card).
With the school nurse's help, have the students record their own heights and weights. Then choose some sample dinosaurs and figure out how many students it would take to weigh as much as one Deinonychus? Coloradisaurus? Ichthyosaurus? T. rex? Or how many Archaeopteryxes would equal one student's weight? Likewise, height: how many students standing on top of each other would it take to be as high as T. rex? Note that the cards include translations to metric measurements, for those that wish to introduce metric at this time.
After the students have worked and played with the cards a few days, ask them to vote on their favorites and the one they'd least enjoy meeting in a dark alley (which may be the same!). Graph the results, so the students can learn about visually representing numbers.
How would a chicken egg compare to a dinosaur egg? Can the students spot eggs on any of the cards? How would a dinosaur compare to a house pet? To a lizard?
Imagination time! Pass out two or three cards to each student, and help them say the names. Have one student start a story, using one of their cards. Anything goes here – "I rode one of these to school today" is acceptable! Have the next student continue, working one of their cards into the story. The story can go anywhere at all! If the children are young enough, the teacher can write it down and read it back to them later, showing the value of learning to write and record otherwise transient events.

Intermediate Activities – Grades 4-6:

Creating a KWL chart before using the cards is a good idea.
Use the creature cards to review facts about dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals. The names appear on both sides, in large type. The other information is in much smaller type, so you can display a card and ask a question about it.
The students can do this themselves, too: break them into groups of four, and give each of them four cards. Have them study the cards for a while, then put their cards together and shuffle them well. Put the sixteen cards on a table, picture-side up. Each student should recognize a dinosaur as having been one he or she read the details of – if nobody recognizes it, put it in a discard pile. Otherwise, any of the other three students picks up the card and asks a question about the dinosaur: when did it live, is it an herbivore or carnivore, where have fossils been found, what is the fact in the box, etc. If the student correctly answers the question, the card goes in front of him or her – otherwise, it goes into the discard pile. The next card is processed the same way, until all sixteen cards have been gone through. The student with the most cards not in the discard pile wins.
If you have a group of students who have finished their work ahead of time, give them each ten to twenty Specials and dinosaur cards, and tell them to find the two most interesting facts to report to the class later. This will keep them reading and thinking about what the other students might find most interesting in all the cards they're looking through.
Draw pictures of the dinosaur habitats. Ask the students if they would have chosen the colors shown on the cards for the various dinosaurs. Ask them to draw and color some the way they would like to see them.
Make a class book of dinosaur facts and drawings, with each student responsible for a different dinosaur. The cards can also be used as models for making dinosaur masks near Halloween time.
Give each student a world map (without any words) and ten to twenty Dino Hunt cards. Ask them to put an "X" on the maps where dinosaur fossils have been found. They can use any reference book or globe to look up countries. Tell them they'll be asked later what country the "X" represents, so they need to memorize that as they make the mark!
Have them sort the cards by time line, and then put the geologic eras in the correct order.
Use the opportunity to introduce fossils to the students: how old they are, how they're formed, where they're found, etc.
Lots of opportunities here!
  1. Pass out a card to each student and ask them to tell a story about what would happen if such a creature came to their school that day. Have each student tell only a few sentences before asking the next student to take over, using the next card.
  2. Round Robin story: break into four-student groups. Give each group four cards, in the center of the group. Have them each write a story about the dinosaurs – whatever they want – for two minutes. Then have them pass their story to the student on their left, so each now has a different student's story. Give them two minutes to read what the other wrote, then have them write for two minutes, continuing the story where the other student left off. Do this until all four students have contributed to all four stories. Read them out loud to the class.
Compare dinosaur heights and weights with modern objects. Which weighs more, a large fire truck or Ankylosaurus? Which is taller, a one-story building or Tyrannosaurus rex? And so on. Note that the cards give all figures in both metric and US measurements – you can have them add dinosaur weights and heights in both types of measurements, then convert the final answers to check their math and learn conversions.
Intermediate age students love jokes and riddles – give them each four cards and have them write a joke or riddle about their favorite.
Start a Dino Facts newsletter in your classroom, with roving reporters asking other students for interesting facts for the next edition. Students can also read newspapers and magazines to report on new dinosaur information and theories.
If your school has Internet access, you can have students hunt for dinosaur information on the World Wide Web. Start with the Dino Hunt web site (http://www.sjgames.com/dinohunt/), which has links to many more. You may wish to supervise this activity.
Have the students hunt for inconsistencies between information on the cards and older dinosaur books. The cards represent scientific theories as of 1996, which often differ from earlier theories. Discuss how science advances, and if the students feel current theories will last another 50 years or be replaced by others. Note that many of the Special cards included in the game, especially the Extinction cards, refer to interesting theories that can be discussed at this time.
Note the derivations of dinosaur names on the cards. These are mostly from Greek or Latin – have the students look for root words that appear in other words they know. Have them check in a dictionary to see if the words are indeed from the same root.
As for the primary grades, but get more detailed. How are certain dinosaurs alike, and how are they different? How are they like modern animals, and how are they different?

Other Resources:

Every school library has books on dinosaurs, of course. Here are some non-book resources now available. This is just a small sampling of what is out there . . . dinosaurs continue to be popular with children of all ages.

Casual Living U.S.A. (P.O. Box 31273, Tampa, FL 33631) makes fossil kits of Apatosaurus/Brontosaurus and Tyrannosaurus.

Films, Inc., (5547 Ravenswood, Chicago, IL 60640-1199) distributes an Australian video about dinosaur fossils called Where the Forest Meets the Sea.

First Byte (3333 E. Spring Street, Suite 302, Long Beach, CA 90806) produces The Dinosaur Discovery Kit, software suitable for grades K-1.

The International Reading Association (P.O. Box 8139, Newark, DE 19714-8139) produces a 22" by 34" dinosaur poster.

The Running Press produces The Dinosaur Hunter's Kit (1990). This contains field notes, replicated dinosaur fossils in clay, and excavation tools. For all ages.

The Smithsonian Institution has a Triceratops kit available, among other resources.

For Parents and Teachers Supervising Play:

If you're playing with very young children (or if older children are playing with younger ones) you may want to adjust a couple of things to keep the game fair.

The Expert cards are very powerful, and so are some of the Gadgets. Before the game, you can sort out the Experts and Gadgets, and let each player pick one to start with. Let the youngest players pick first! If they can't decide, guide them toward the Experts.

Small children often misplay the Special cards at first. This is a chance for you to help them with their reading skills . . . teaching them what "carnivore" means, for instance, as well as showing them where to look for that information on a Dinosaur card. (Or, for very small children, just leave the Specials out of the game, and just move around the Time Track hunting dinosaurs.)

Remember that you can control the length of the game by the number of Dinosaur cards you use. For a short game before bedtime, you might want only 40 or so (half of those in the boxed set). On a rainy Saturday, turn the kids loose with a whole collection of cards and let them hunt dinosaurs all day!

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