Montessori Dinosaur Study: The Mesozoic Era

After taking a close look at dinosaur fossils and the clues they left us, we dove into the Mesozoic era with a study of dinosaurs by type and age.

I made a timeline to scale to show the lengths of the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous time periods, which you can download for free HERE.  On our copy, I also added cut-outs of the way the earth appeared at those different times to show the continental shift that was happening.  I couldn’t add that picture to my free download, but you can cut it out HERE.

We began by talking about Theropods, Sauropods, Ornithopods, Armoured Dinosaurs, Ceratopians, Pterosaurs, and Sea Reptiles and the main characteristics that defined them using several of our dinosaur books [see full book list below].   We used these beautiful dinosaur 3-part cards as examples of each. Then we went through each of the different time periods to see exactly which dinosaurs lived in each one.

Throughout our dinosaur study, we used the pictures of dinosaurs found in Every Star is Different’s  Dinosaur Unit Science and Culture Printable Pack 1 — these were especially helpful for sorting by time period, as each of the cards has the time period that dinosaur lived in written on it. This served as our control of error when we were sorting the dinosaurs on my Mesozoic Era timeline.

When we began each time period, we read from our books about the climate and environment during that time and then spent one day for each of the different dinosaurs we decided to study more in depth — largely chosen from the printables above and the ones that were mentioned in our dinosaur books.  These are the dinosaurs we decided to study in depth (1 per day) for each period:

Triassic Dinosaurs:

Henodus, Eoraptor, Herrarasaurus, Coelophysis, Plateosaurus

Jurassic Dinosaurs:

Dimorphodon, Dilophosaurus, Pterodactylus, Diplodocus, Stegosaurus, Allosaurus, Saurophaganax

Cretaceous Dinosaurs:

Iguanodon, Microraptor, Baryonyx, Giganotosaurus, Triceratops, Parasaurolophus, Corythosaurus, Troodon, Pachycephalosaurus, Ankylosaurus, Spinosaurus, Struthiomimus, Velociraptor, Oviraptor, Pteranodon, Elasmosaurus, Tyrannosaurus Rex, Therizinosaurus


For each dinosaur, we studied what they looked like, if they were carnivores or herbivores, how they moved, where they lived, how big they were compared to humans today, and what their fossils could tell us about other things.  I was actually surprised by how much the girls already knew just from watching Dinosaur Train!


We rely heavily on wonderful children’s books for all of our themed studies, and here are the books we used to study the Mesozoic Era as part of our dinosaur study:

Usborne’s Encyclopedia of World History

The Complete Book of Dinosaurs, by Dougal Dixon

Dinosaurium, by Lily Murray

Ultimate Dinopedia, by Don Lessem

Dinosaur Encyclopedia, by IglooBooks

Stay tuned as we continue our Montessori dinosaur study by examining different theories of extinction!


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