Smaller Than You Think

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Learners compare a life-size drawing of a Tyrannosaurus rex head and a full-size Sinornithosaurus body to understand that dinosaurs varied in size. Learners trace individual pieces of a dinosaur on paper and then work together as a group to arrange the pieces of the "puzzle". This is an opportunity to understand scale drawings as well as learn how to work as a group.

Quick Guide

  • Preparation Time: 10 to 30 minutes
  • Learning Time: 1 to 2 hours
  • Estimated materials cost: 1 cent - $1 per group of students
  • Age Range: Ages 8 - 11
  • Resource Type: Activity
  • Language: English

Materials List (per group of students)

  • paper, cut to 6"x6"
  • scissors
  • tape
  • pencils and black markers
  • printout of grids of a Tyrannosaurus Rex head (p3 of PDF)
  • printout of grid of a Sinornithosaurus body (p4 of PDF)


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth's History
      • Dinosaurs
      • History of Life
  • Life Sciences
    • Diversity of Life
      • Animals
    • Evolution
      • History of Life
  • Mathematics
    • Measurement
      • Size and Scale
    • Representation

To use this activity learners need to

  • see
  • read
  • be mobile
  • touch

Learning styles supported

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Links STEM to other topics of interest such as arts and humanities
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


American Museum of Natural History


All Rights Reserved, American Museum of Natural History, ©2007



Deborah Lee Rose
"Prehistoric Actual Size" book

The book "Prehistoric Actual Size" by Steve Jenkins includes full-color illustrations of life-size dinosaur parts such as beak and claw. The book would be an excellent reading connection for this activity, including for younger learners.