Dinosaur Dig Up – A Fun Data Lesson Plan for the Early Years


Summary of Lesson Plan:

In this lesson plan, students read the book ‘Tom and the Island of Dinosaurs’ by Ian Beck. They then become archaeologists and use sandpits with plastic dinosaurs in them to record data. It’s a fun lesson that relates to real-life experiences (as well as being on the topic of ‘Dinosaurs’) and will be sure to have your students excited about collecting and representing data.

Australian Curriculum Links:

Year 1 Mathematics:

  • Represent data with objects and drawings where one object or drawing represents one data value. Describe the displays (ACMSP263)

Year 2 Mathematics:

Lesson Plan Sequence:

Mathematical Prior Learning:

  • Can sort and classify objects according to a common attribute ie. Colour
  • Can rote count to at least 12


For students to:

  • Sort and classify objects according to an attribute
  • Represent and record their findings
  • Interpret their findings ie. There were more blue dinosaurs buried than red


Children are read the book ‘ Tom and Island of Dinosaurs’. In pairs, students are provided with a tray each (representing part of the island of dinosaurs). They are asked to find out ‘ what dinosaurs were buried when the volcano erupted?’.
In pairs, working with the above tools, students pretend to be archaeologists and search for dinosaurs. Together students decide how to sort and classify their discoveries (reasoning), before counting their collections.
Students record and represent their findings with drawings to show how the dinosaurs have been grouped, compared and counted
(communicating). Children make statements to describe/interpret their data using language comparisons. This may be scribed by the teacher. The teacher interacts throughout by asking questions and discussing findings. This enables the children to justify and reflect on their thinking strategies.

Modifications for Stage 2:

The above experience is implemented however this time students represent their date in a table using tally marks.

Questioning to extend Working Mathematical focus:

  • How have you organised the dinosaurs?
  • Which type of dinosaur was buried the most?
  • Can you tell me about your written recordings?


Through questioning techniques of strategies and student’s reasoning; observing conversations between peers; observing students sorting and classification; through viewing work sample – record of findings.


  • Book: ‘Tom and Island of Dinosaurs’ by Ian Beck * Can be purchased for $11 from eBay.
  • 10 plastic craft trays – filled with wet sand with 8-12 plastic dinosaurs buried in each (prepare trays prior to the experience)
  • Archaeologist tools: 10 paddle pop sticks, 10 toothbrushes and 10 plastic spoons




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