Birds are Dinosaurs

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Listen to learn more about extinct dinosaurs and how they are related to the ones that are still flying around the planet today.

Subject: Science
Grade level: Elementary

Dinosaurs have long fascinated humans. Surprisingly, there are still dinosaurs on Earth today, but they look different from their multi-ton ancestors that went extinct millions of years ago. The dinosaurs that exist today are small, have feathers, and can fly. That’s right, they’re birds! Listen to learn more about extinct dinosaurs and how they are related to the ones that are still flying around the planet today.

Birds are Dinosaurs

Before Listening

  1. Activate prior knowledge:
    Begin the lesson by asking students to share what they know about dinosaurs. Then ask, are there any dinosaurs living on our planet today? Explain that when many of the large well-known dinosaurs went extinct million years ago, there were some that survived and went on to evolve into animals we know today. Have students predict which animals may be related to dinosaurs and explain their predictions. Tell students that they will hear more about dinosaurs and how modern-day animals are related to them.
  2. Vocabulary:
    Preview the vocabulary by reading aloud the terms and their definitions. Ask students to share what they know about each vocabulary word.

    Focus on the word “paleontologist.” Remind students that a paleontologist is a scientist who studies plants and animals that existed millions of years ago. Explain that a paleontologist studies animals and plants that no longer exist.

    Ask students, how do you think they are able to study plants and animals if they are no longer around?

    Tell the students that paleontologists use fossilized remains of life that existed long ago. Then, they make educated guesses about things such as what the plant or animal may have looked like, acted, or eaten. Although their educated guesses may change over time, the more paleontologists discover the more accurate their guesses become.

paleontologist (noun) – a scientist who studies plants and animals that existed millions of years ago
extinct (adjective) – no longer having any living species members
asteriod (noun) – a rocky body, such as a minor planet, found in space that orbits the sun
evolve (verb) – to change, usually becoming more complex
ancestor (noun) – a plant or animal that existed long ago from which other animals have evolved
technically (adverb) – according to a rule, law, fact, or experts

  1. Introduce the story:
    Say to students: Did you know that not all of the dinosaur species went extinct 66 million years ago? That means that there are still dinosaurs here with us right now. However, they may look a little different than the large dinosaurs that we see in books. You are about to hear an audio story that explains more about dinosaurs, how they went extinct, and which modern-day animals they are related to.
  1. Active listening supports:
    Introduce the listening organizer to support students in understanding the story while listening to it. This is intended to guide students in taking notes to help them focus their listening.

During Listening

The Fill-in-the-blank organizer will help guide student listening by focusing listeners on key information about dinosaurs, birds, and how they are related to one another. (Answer key: asteroid, fly, birds, clone, bones)

After Listening

  1. Reflect on the story:  
    Ask students to respond to the listening comprehension questions and share their responses with a partner, small group, or the whole class.
  • What does the paleontologist say caused dinosaurs to go extinct?
  • Why does he say that we are still living in the age of dinosaurs?
  • Where can we see “real” dinosaurs today?
  • How does the paleontologist feel about amateurs who look for dinosaur bones and why?
  1. Classroom Discussion:
    Take time for student reflection on the audio story. Use the discussion questions to focus students on how certain dinosaurs were able to survive the mass extinction, and which other animals we see today may have dinosaur ancestors.
  • What happened when the asteroid hit, and how were feathered dinosaurs able to survive? Use details from the audio story to support your answer.
  • What other animals living today do you think might have dinosaur ancestors? Why?

Next Step: Paired Text

Use the Wonderopolis article Are Dinosaurs Still Alive? to pair with this audio story.

Ask students to discuss the facts found in the article and the audio story that support that dinosaurs are the ancestors of today’s birds.

Quiz Answers: 1>C / 2>C / 3>C / 4>A

Listen to the full podcast episode

Text materials provided by Listenwise

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