Learning Menu: Dinosaurs and Adaptations
Standard: Science.5.9.4 – Explain that organisms fit enough to survive in a particular environment will
typically produce offspring fit enough to survive and reproduce in that particular environment. Over
time, these inherited characteristics are carried as the predominant forms (e.g., adaptations such as
shape of beak, length of neck, shape of teeth).
Objective: By the end of this three-day project, students will be able to evaluate the relationship
between dinosaur adaptations and their habitats and lifestyle, modifying their predictions as they gather
Directions: You will have class time and homework time over the next three days to complete your
menu on adaptation. In addition to science time, you may work on your menu when you complete
other assigned tasks during the three days. Remember to do your best thinking and writing on the
menu. The menu is designed to help you think about how dinosaurs adapted to do their particular
environments and lifestyles. Look at the principles of adaptation we’ve been developing as you work.
Get your data chart checked by the teacher when you finish all your work in all three sections of the
Main Course (You must serve everything in this section)
Read passages assigned to you on dinosaur legs, feet, claws, and teeth. Your assigned passages
are the ones in the green/red/yellow/purple folders.
Complete the data chart as you read to make a good record of what you find out about dinosaur
legs, feet, claws, and teeth. This will help you with the rest of your menu work.
Look at the dinosaur models on the table in front of the room and complete a
prediction/evidence chart for each of the models. On that chart you’ll need to predict how the
dinosaur’s feet, legs, claws, and teeth point to the kind of lifestyle to which that dinosaur has
adapted. You’ll also need to give evidence to support your predictions. Use your data chart to
help you with evidence. Go back to your assigned passages if you are short of evidence.
Side Dishes (You must serve at least two of these)
Go over your prediction and evidence chart with a friend who has completed his or her
prediction charts. Write how your ideas are alike and different. Be thorough with your
explanations. Put your conclusions in the box on the teacher’s desk so she can look over them
and discuss them with you.
Look at a bookmarked website on dinosaurs. See if your prediction and evidence charts seem
correct based on what you see at the site. On your data chart, write new understandings of
evidence about dinosaur adaptation you get from the site. On a green index card, write your
name, the web site you consulted, ways in which the site helps you see your prediction and
evidence charts are correct, and ways in which the web site helps you improve your prediction
and evidence charts.
Watch the dinosaur video set up in the back of the classroom. See if your prediction and
evidence charts seem correct based on what you see in the video. On your data chart, write
new understandings or evidence about dinosaur adaptation you get from the video. On an
orange index card, write your name, ways in which the video helps you see your prediction and
evidence charts are correct, and ways in which the video helps you improve your prediction and
Read more about dinosaurs and adaptation in one or more of the books about dinosaurs on the
table in the front of the room. See if your prediction and evidence charts seem correct based on
what you read in the books. On your data chart, write new understandings or evidence about
dinosaur adaptation you get from the books. On a yellow index card, write your name, ways in
which the books help you see your prediction and evidence charts are correct, and ways in
which the books help you improve your prediction and evidence charts.
Desserts (You may serve one or more of these if you’d like to)
Write a letter from a stegosaurus to kids in the 21 st century explaining what life was like for a
stegosaurus and how the stegosauri came to be the way they were. Once you have a good draft
put your letter on chart paper, so we can read it. Since we’re assuming the stegosaurus can
write (not likely – do you know why?), you can also assume he or she might like to draw and you
can illustrate the letter in ways that help us understand what the stegosaurus is saying to us.
Select a dinosaur that you like. Make and label a sketch that shows us how the dinosaur
adapted for his or her particular lifestyle. Assume we don’t know much, and make your
explanations full enough to reach us.
Make up a story about a dinosaur that couldn’t adapt and what happened as a result. Be sure
the story helps us understand how adaptation works, and what would happen if it didn’t work!
You may tell your story on the tape recorder, so we can listen to it later, or you may write it so
we can read it later.