Dinosaur Decisions

by Sharon Temple

Sharon is currently a full-time student. She has taught elementary school for two years.


Instructional Objective The learner will be able to correctly match dinosaur names and attributes with the appropriate picture and then be able to state if the dinosaur is an herbivore or a carnivore.

Learners/Context The learners are first and second graders with some prior knowledge and education of dinosaurs.

This card game would be used after the students have been introduced to the dinosaur names, pictures, the terms herbivore and carnivore, and the distinguishing physical attributes of both types of dinosaurs. Several sets of the card game would be available for students to use in pairs.

Rationale Children love to play card games, especially when it's an activity they can choose at school. One of the skills that elementary students need is identification. They need to learn which things go together and which things don't belong. Matching and classifying are also primary grade skills that are important because children learn how to group things and determine why they are grouped together. The topic of dinosaurs is used because it is part of the science curriculum and it is interesting for the students.

A card game is useful for these skills because it is a non-teacher directed activity, so the students are able to complete the game without help from an adult. Also, a concentration game helps them to practice and review dinosaur facts in a non-traditional way rather than the more traditional approach of drill and practice.

Rules This Concentration game is designed for two players.

1. Shuffle the playing cards carefully.

2. Spread the cards face down on a clean, flat surface. Make sure that the cards are scattered and are not touching each other.

3. Each player in turn turns up two cards, one at a time, without moving either away from its position in the layout.

4. If the two cards are a pair, (a dinosaur name and attributes card with its picture card,) then player 1 decides if it is a carnivore or an herbivore. Player 2 checks the answer sheet and looks under the name of the dinosaur. If player 1 is correct, he/she removes them to his/her own pile of pairs won, and turns over two more cards. If the answer is incorrect, then player 2 gets the pair to put in his/her pile and then he/she turns up two cards.

5. When the player turns up two cards that are not a pair, he/she returns them to their face down position, and the turn passes to the next player.

6. The player who gathers the most pairs of cards wins the game.

Card Design

Deck Design The deck is made up of twenty cards where ten of them have names and attributes and ten of them have pictures. I wanted to keep the game short because elementary children have a fairly short attention span and I believe they need to be able to complete the game and experience success along with completion.

Design Process I wanted to design an educational game for children that I could use in my classroom in the future. I then decided that primary grade children would be my target population because that is the age group in which I have my teaching experience. I then chose a topic that has high motivation for students and then finally, I decided on the objective for the game.

Once I decided on the learners and the content, I needed to decide what format would work best with what I had chosen. I decided on concentration because it's a game children already know and the format fit best with my content and objective.

The next step was to design the cards. I wanted them both attractive and educational. I made sure that the children would be forced to read the cards in order to find a match. I also built in a step of having to determine, by the information on the name and attribute card, if the dinosaur was an herbivore or a carnivore. I accomplished this by not putting any markers on the cards, other than the name, to signify a match. I put the dinosaur name at the bottom of the picture card and on the top of the name card. I designed it this way to encourage the student to read the name, rather than just match it by looking in the same place on both cards. By providing an answer key, the game remained non-teacher directed. However, it took me awhile to devise a way for them to check without seeing all of the other answers. My final decision was to have a one page chart with the dinosaur names on flip-up tabs. The answer would be underneath so that if a student wanted to check if Stegosaurus was an herbivore, that would be the only tab lifted. I believe this will work because the children will keep an eye on each other so as not to spoil the game.