Making Books with children · Making books with elementary students

A Fold-Up Dinosaur Diorama


Dinosaur book and folder

There is generally one project that I am most smitten by each year. This year’s dinosaur project, which first grade teacher Mrs. Kaveny and I put together, is my star of the season.

Here's the Generic Dinosaur Sample Book that I Made to Show Students
Here's the Generic Dinosaur Sample Book that I Made to Show Students

We folded two 11″ x 17″ cover weight papers, a blue paper for the background, and a white paper for the foreground. Using pre-pressed score lines, students folded the sides of the white paper in 4.25″ on both sides, so that the paper closed like a set of french doors. We added a pop-up on the left  fold, and cut curvy mountain ranges on the top edge.  The blue paper was folded just a bit differently than the white so that the papers overlapped in an interesting way.

Jake's Dinosaurs

For me, the highlight of the project was bonding to our dinosaurs. Students were assigned a specific dinosaur. The librarian, Mrs. Fields, downloaded line drawings of dinosaurs from the Enchanted Learning website then students colored in their dinosaurs. Mrs. Kaveny and I both agreed that no one really knows what colors bedecked the dino’s bodies, so these  7-year old artists used colors at their own discretion. After the coloring was done, I took their drawings home, scanned them into my computer,  then copied the image three times, doing some shrinking and stretching, so that I was able to hand back three dinosaurs -a family!- to grace inside of the book.

Of course we needed to insert the research writing. There are two books within this book. On the right hand panel there’s a folded page which contained “fast facts.” In the center of the book there is a pocket which contains another book, which is filled with complete sentences and paragraphs.

Here’s what the pages for the writing looked like in my sample. After the part of the project that I facilitated was done, my time at the school was over, so I didn’t have a chance to see the project completed. Students did the writing and the rest of the landscape decoration with their teacher.

The finishing touch to the book was Mrs. Kaveny’s title for the book, Dino Details. We cut out the title in the shape of a dinosaur egg and made a crack. The students were talking about adding a baby dino on the cover too. Wish I had thought of that!

5 thoughts on “A Fold-Up Dinosaur Diorama

  1. Wow, that looks great! I’m totally going to steal that idea. I’m also considering buying the Social Studies book you worked on from Scholastic. It also looks like it has a lot of terrific ideas. So maybe you can expect another royalty check some day in the not so distant future. Thanks.


  2. Paula, Thanks for all of your wonderful ideas!! The kids were so into this project! We will definitely have to do this one again next year! We are moving on to your Biome idea from second grade next 🙂


    1. I think it was in third grade, in Mrs. Dadd’s class, that we had to a report on an animal. My animal was the duckbill platypus. A result of this is that I have gone through life feeling somehow bonded to the duckbill platypus, like it was my own special animal. So, when Mrs. Kaveny told me about this research project she wanted to do with her first graders, it seemed to be that bonding with the animal right from the start, through the drawings, would help them really connect to their creature and motivate their research. It really seemed to work that way. I’ve been playing around with the idea using art to bond with the object of research to help kids make connections, and plan to write a post about this in the future.


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