Dinosaur Derby

This is a set of several activities involving dinosaurs. The activities were designed to be used one after the other in the order presented, but you can use them in isolation. The derby was designed for a group of families to play together, but it can be adapted for one large family or a small class.

  1. Teach a new version of Barney's song with actions, using a dinosaur puppet if available.

  2. Preface with a short discussion about everyone's loveable purple friend, Barney the dinosaur. You know, the one that sings, "I love you, you love me. We're a great big family..." (or something like that). (Of course, the true message is much more complex--God wants us to also obey Him--so you may want to elaborate.) Start with this dialog: "Well, we have a hot pink dinosaur puppet with us today, and his name is Dino. Dino wants to teach you some different words to Barney's song and show you some actions that go with the words. Please help Dino get this right:"

    "God loves you, God loves me,
    He wants us in His family.
    If you ask Him now He'll come into your heart,
    And of His family you'll be part."

    After most people know the words to the song, go on to the next activity--which includes singing it.

  3. Play "Musical Dinosaurs."

  4. Step 1:

    The purpose of this activity is to have a fun way of dividing everyone up into 2-person teams. (If there are very few players to begin with, let each of them win a dinosaur and adapt the "Dinosaur Details" game so they can do it without partners.) In this activity, players win chances to choose a plastic dinosaur from a box by being the one holding it when the music stops. Only half the players may choose a dinosaur, so first count the total number of players and divide by 2. (Add or subtract an adult to make an even number of players, if necessary.) Now you know how many 2-person teams there will be. That will be the # of times the music will play and the box will stop. (Assign someone to count!)

    Have players sit in a circle of chairs and pass the box to the right while a pianist plays the song and everyone sings. When the pianist stops abruptly now and then, the person holding the box gets to choose a dinosaur from it. (Variation, if you want to shorten the game: if s/he has already chosen a dinosaur, the closest player on the right who has not won a dinosaur gets to choose.) Continue until all the dinosaurs have been chosen. Now either everyone has a dinosaur or half of the players have dinosaurs and the other half of the players will become their partners in the next step.

    Step 2:

    (Omit this step if there are too few players to let them have partners.) Remove half of the chairs. To match people up into 2-person teams, those who did not get a dinosaur must sit in the remaining chairs with their eyes closed and the ones with dinosaurs must march in a circle around them. (No music is needed.) The activity coordinator stands in the middle with the dinosaur puppet, ready to give it to a player.

    Get the marching group started and give one of the seated players the dinosaur puppet, then let him or her call "DINO!" in their best dinosaur voice. When s/he does, the marching group stops and whoever is nearest the caller becomes his or her partner. Remove one chair and let the caller leave the circle. Continue in this manner until everyone has a partner.

  5. Play "Dinosaur Details."

  6. Activity goal:

    The goal of this activity is for a team (or individual player) to be the first to cross the room. They win the right to take a step in that direction by giving the correct answer to a question about their dinosaur without looking at it.


    Allow players to spend 5 or 10 minutes studying their plastic dinosaurs (and to decide which of them will hold the dinosaur first, if they are in 2-person teams. The game will be repeated so each of them will have a turn). Then have the players line up along one wall of the room. If everyone is playing as individuals, they must face the opposite wall and hold the dinosaurs behind their backs. If they are in 2-person teams, the players holding dinosaurs face the opposite wall and their partners stand back-to-back with them (facing the near wall).

    Playing the game:

    Ask a question from the following list (and/or make up your own based on the plastic dinosaurs available to you), and have the players answer "yes" if their dinosaurs have that characteristic or "no" if they don't. No peeking! (NOTE: You might want to tell players the questions are based on these particular plastic dinosaurs and that we don't know if real dinosaurs had/have these specific characteristics.)

    1. Does your dinosaur have spikes on its back?
    2. Is your dinosaur striped?
    3. Does your dinosaur have bulges at the end of its tail?
    4. Is your dinosaur red?
    5. Does your dinosaur have sharp teeth?
    6. Is your dinosaur grey?
    7. Does your dinosaur have a horn on its head?
    8. Is your dinosaur blue?
    9. Does your dinosaur have a horn on its nose?
    10. Is your dinosaur two-toned? (Does it have two colours?)
    11. Does your dinosaur have a baggy skin at its throat?
    12. Is your dinosaur shiny?
    13. Does your dinosaur have a long neck and a long tail?
    14. Is your dinosaur similar to a fish?
    15. Does your dinosaur have very short front legs?
    16. Is your dinosaur fierce-looking?
    17. Does your dinosaur have a frill at its neck?
    18. Is your dinosaur walking on only two legs?
    19. Does your dinosaur have bird-like claws?
    20. Is your dinosaur smiling?
    21. Does your dinosaur have a tiny mouth?
    22. Is your dinosaur green?

    Verifying the answers:

    If everyone is playing as individuals, each player must look at his dinosaur in order to verify the answer--after s/he has said yes or no. If they are in 2-person teams, the person not holding the dinosaur answers and the player holding the dinosaur checks out the dinosaur and says "right" if his partner was correct or "sorry" if his partner was not correct.

    Moving forward:

    If the answer was correct, the individual or team moves one step toward the opposite wall. Make sure players understand that they get to move forward because their answer is correct--not because the dinosaur has the named characteristic.


    Repeat this question/answer/move process until the first player or team reaches the opposite wall.

    Repeat the game as often as desired.

  7. Play "Dinosaur Sorting."

    Begin with an even number of dinosaurs in the box if you are preparing for the next game, "Dinosaur Roller Ball."
  8. Preparation:

    Have players line up in the centre of the room (a taped line might be helpful to keep the line straight). Ask players random questions like "Do you know how old you are?", "Do you know your first name?", "Do you know how tall you are?", "Do you know your last name?" etc. When the players have their minds thinking in this way, begin the game.

    Playing the game:

    Tell the players that when Dino (the dinosaur puppet) is dropped on the floor, they must all organize themselves into a line in the order required by the statement given to them. Point out where the beginning of the line is. Make the first statement, "Line up by shortest to tallest," and drop the puppet. When the line is formed, give the person at the beginning of the line (the shortest person) a dinosaur. Make the next statement, "Line up by oldest to youngest," and drop the puppet. Give the person at the beginning of the line (the oldest person) a dinosaur. Continue with all the statements, making up more if you run out.

    1. Line up by shortest to tallest.
    2. Line up by oldest to youngest.
    3. Line up by birth month, in the usual order.
    4. Line up by grade in school, earliest first.
    5. Line up alphabetically by last name.
    6. Line up alphabetically by middle name.
    7. Line up alphabetically by the names of your favourite animals.
    8. Line up by your first name, in reverse alphabetical order.
    9. Line up by the length of your hair, longest first.
    10. Line up by the number of treats you ate tonight, smallest number first.
    11. Line up alphabetically by the name of your dinosaur.

    Make as many statements as necessary to ensure everyone wins a dinosaur. If you run out of questions to ask and there are still players without dinosaurs, remove everyone that has a dinosaur from the game and play only with the remaining people, using the statements you have already made. Continue in this way until everyone has a dinosaur.

  9. Play "Dinosaur Roller Ball."

  10. Activity goal:

    The goal of this activity is for each team to create a Dinosaur Roller Ball floor board game for other teams to play--and then to see which team plays best. During these games, players must work as a team to roll a ball around each dinosaur (one at a time) until they have rolled it around all of the dinosaurs without knocking any of them down or allowing the ball to get outside the boundary. Do several rounds, each time permitting players to use a different body part (hand, foot, elbow, left hand, hand behind back, etc.) to keep the ball from going out of play. The first team to roll their ball around every dinosaur and through the entire floor board without knocking down a dinosaur wins the round. Dinosaur Roller Ball is over when one team has won more rounds than the others, say 2 out of 3 or 4 out of 7.


    Divide participants into two, three, or four teams and give each team a ball. Make sure that each team has the same kind of ball (e.g. soccer ball) and that there is the same number of people on each team and the same number of dinosaurs on each team. (There can be more people than dinosaurs, or more dinosaurs than people.) Ask each group to assemble in a different corner of the room and choose a team leader.

    Floor boards:

    Give each team leader a roll of masking tape, a pen or pencil, and paper--and instruct the teams to sketch out an arrangement of dinosaurs that they think their opponents will not be able to negotiate. Establish a minimum distance (based on the size of the ball you are using) between dinosaurs in all directions. One foot should be good. Make sure all teams use the same distance! After 5 or 10 minutes, instruct the teams to put masking tape pieces on the floor where the dinosaurs should go according to their sketches, put their dinosaurs on those spots, and leave them there. Use tape to mark outside boundaries. This is the "floor board."

    Playing the games:

    Have each team go to an opponents' Roller Ball floor board and prepare to roll their ball through the dinosaur arrangement, starting from any point on the boundary. The players must figure out how to work together to keep the ball moving in circles around all the individual dinosaurs without knocking any down or sending the ball out of play (that is, getting more than the established distance away from any dinosaur or outside of the boundary). All players must participate (no one may monopolize the ball), and the ball must be kept moving. If a dinosaur gets knocked down, it must be put back into place and the team must begin again from any point on the boundary. (Hint: If one point of the boundary doesn't work for you, try another.)


    The activity coordinator begins each round by announcing which body part is to be used and then blowing a whistle. When a team has successfully negotiated the Roller Ball floor board it's playing, the shout it sends up notifies everyone the round is over. (Variation: you may choose to allow everyone to finish their games--perhaps timing them.) If there are more than two teams, they may go to different Roller Ball floor board for each round. A team may play on its own Roller Ball floor board during the last round.

  11. Play "Noah, Noah, May I?"

  12. Preparation:

    Have players select dinosaurs and make sure they know their names, and then sit in a semi-circle facing you.

    Explain the rules:

    Tell players that you are going to be Noah, and they are going to bring the dinosaurs into your ark. You (as Noah) will call out the name of a dinosaur and the person who has it must say, "Noah, Noah, may I?" If you say, "Yes, you may bring your dinosaur into the ark!" they may put that dinosaur into the box. If they just do it without saying "Noah, Noah, may I?" or if you don't say the entire statement "Yes, you may bring your dinosaur into the ark!" then they must stay where they are. The game is over when all dinosaurs have been put into the ark (box).

    Playing the game:

    Make each of the following statements in turn, inserting the name of an available dinosaur (use the names of the dinosaurs you have).

    1. "PinagoSAURus, PinagoSAURus, come into the ark!"
    2. "ParasaurOLophus, ParasaurOLophus, come into the ark!"
    3. "Oviraptor, Oviraptor, come into the ark!"
    4. "MetriaCANTHosaurus, MetriaCANTHosaurus, come into the ark!"
    5. "ALLosaurus, ALLosaurus, come into the ark!"
    6. "PachyCEPHalosaurus, PachyCEPHalosaurus, come into the ark!"
    7. "STEGosaurus, STEGosaurus, come into the ark!"
    8. "DeiNONychus, DeiNONychus, come into the ark!"
    9. "TyRANnosaurus Rex, TyRANnosaurus Rex, come into the ark!"
    10. "StyRACosaurus, StyRACosaurus, come into the ark!"
    11. "APATosaurus, APATosaurus, come in to the ark!"
    12. "DINo, DINo, come into the ark!"

    Receive the question "Noah, Noah, may I?"

    Answer sometimes "Yes"
    sometimes "Yes, you may bring your dinosaur into the ark!"


    Wait for the dinosaur to be put into box (or else a sign that the player knows he must stay in his place), and then continue. Continue in this way until all dinosaurs have been removed from the game.

You may want to incorporate information from my article Did Adam Have a Pet Dino? during the course of playing Dinosaur Derby.

Please read my article I Used to be Afraid of Dinosaurs as well.

If you tried this activity, how did it work for you? Would you like to submit an original, easy-for-children activity of your own for use on the website? Send me an e-mail to have your say.



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