Dinosaur Hop

In this board game, children collect dinosaurs of different colors as they count their way around the board.

Lesson for:

(See Step 5: Adapt lesson for toddlers or preschoolers.)

Content Area:

Data Analysis and Probability
Numbers and Operations

Learning Goals:

This lesson will help toddlers and preschoolers meet the following educational standards:

  • Understand numbers, ways of representing numbers, relationships among numbers and number systems
  • Understand patterns, relations and functions
  • Formulate questions that can be addressed with data and then collect, organize and display relevant data to answer these questions
  • Select and use appropriate statistical methods to analyze data

Learning Targets:

After this lesson, toddlers and preschoolers should be more proficient at:

  • Counting with understanding and recognizing “how many” in sets of objects
  • Sorting, classifying and ordering objects by size, number and other properties
  • Sorting and classifying objects according to their attributes and organizing data about the objects
  • Representing data using concrete objects, pictures and graphs
  • Describing parts of the data and the set of data as a whole to determine what the data show

Dinosaur Hop

Lesson plan for toddlers/preschoolers

Step 1: Gather materials.

  • Dice
  • Game board (Create a game board that has spaces around the edges of the board. The majority of the spaces on the game board should feature dinosaur bones, with  8-10 spaces featuring colored dinosaurs. All of the dinosaur counter colors should be represented on the game board. Leave space in the middle of the board for the colored dinosaur counters.)
  • Mini dinosaur counters
  • Recording sheet with the colored dinosaurs represented at the top and a place where the children can record the different-colored dinosaurs that they collect
  • Place markers

Note: Small parts pose a choking hazard and are not appropriate for children age five or under. Be sure to choose lesson materials that meet safety requirements.

Step 2: Introduce activity.

  1. This game can be played with two to four players. The object of the game is to collect all of the dinosaurs in the basket. The player with the most dinosaurs wins!
  2. Players can start anywhere on the board. Player one rolls the dice and moves that number of spaces. If the player lands on a colored dinosaur, they collect that color dinosaur. If the player lands on a bone, no dinosaurs are collected and the next player takes a turn.
  3. Play until all of the dinosaurs are collected.
  4. Once the dinosaurs are all collected, tell the children to record the dinosaurs that they collected on their recording sheets. They can represent their collected data in any form that you choose: numerically, pictorially or with tally marks.

Step 3: Engage children in lesson activities.

  1. Explain the rules of the game to the children.
  2. Set the children up with everything that they need to play the game. Keep an eye on how the children are playing the game to make certain that they are counting correctly and collecting the correct dinosaurs. For example, when a child lands on a red dinosaur, the child will take a red dinosaur out of the basket. If the child lands on a red dinosaur and there are no more red dinosaurs in the basket, the child will not collect a dinosaur and it will be the next player’s turn.
  3. Once the game has ended, have the children record their collected data (dinosaurs) and compare their data with the other players’ data. Who collected the most blue dinosaurs? Who did not collect any yellow dinosaurs?

Additional Extensions: Include an addition column on the recording sheet. Add the number of blue dinosaurs to the number of red dinosaurs. Based on their collected data, formulate a series of addition questions that can be answered.

Step 4: Vocabulary.

  • Collect: To bring together in a group; gather (e.g.,“Collect dinosaurs as you move your way around the game board.”)
  • Count: To identify the amount of something by number (e.g.,“You rolled a four. Count how many spaces you will move.”)
  • Data: Facts and statistics collected together for reference or analysis (e.g.,“The dinosaurs that you collected are your data. We look at and record your data.”)
  • Record: To write down or indicate (e.g.,“Record your data.”)

Early Math Glossary

Step 5: Adapt lesson for toddlers or preschoolers.

Adapt Lesson for Toddlers
Toddlers may:
  • Have difficulty multitasking while playing the game
Child care providers may:
  • Have the children concentrate on just one aspect of the game (e.g., have the children roll the dice and move their markers around the spaces, counting while they move)
  • Switch the dice to include the colors of the dinosaur counters (tell the children to roll the dice and collect the corresponding dinosaurs)
Adapt Lesson for Preschoolers
Preschoolers may:
  • Collect the color corresponding dinosaurs and record their results
Child care providers may:
  • Include an addition column on the recording sheet (Add the number of blue dinosaurs to the number of red dinosaurs. Based on the children’s collected data, formulate a series of addition questions that can be answered.)

Suggested Books

  • Ten Little Dinosaurs by Pattie L. & Harris Schnetzler (New York: Andrews McMeel Publishers, 2007)
  • How Do Dinosaurs Count to Ten? by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague (New York: Blue Sky Press, 2004)
  • 1-2-3 Dinosaurs Bite: A Prehistoric Counting Book by The American Museum of Natural History (New York: Sterling, 2012)

Music and Movement

Outdoor Connections

Play Long Dinosaur Tail, a fun and simple dinosaur game. One child is IT and starts running around trying to tag the other children. When another child is tagged, the two children hold hands and continue tagging others. As more children are tagged, the dinosaur tail will grow longer (everyone holds hands in a line). The game continues until the last child is tagged and becomes IT and starts the dinosaur tail from the beginning.

Web Resources

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