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Dinosaur Discoveries

Dinosaur Hand Shadows

Help your child learn and create the shape of various dinosaurs.


  • white wall in a room that can be darkened
  • bright flashlight


  1. Ask your child if he’s ever made hand shadows before. Let him demonstrate any hand shadows he already knows, such as a dog barking, or a bird flying.
  2. Show the video clip, above, from the end of “Hornucopia” in which the characters use moonlight to create shadows of different Mesozoic creatures.
  3. Give each child a copy of the printout for making 4 dinosaur hand shadows. First have your child try to form the hand shapes without using the flashlight.
  4. Turn off the lights, except for a flashlight. Have your child put her hands in between the flashlight and the wall, and make the hand shadows on the printout: a Pteranodon flying, a Stegosaurus walking, a Triceratops’ head, and a side view of a T. Rex.
  5. Have your child explore picture of other dinosaurs, such as those in the Field Guide, and come up with his own hand shadows. Have fun experimenting with the distance between the hands and the flashlight. Ask your child to figure out how they need to position their hands to make the images smaller or bigger.
  6. Your child could discover that the closer their hands are to the light source, the bigger the image on the wall.

Take It Further

  • Your child can create a hand shadow play featuring the Mesozoic animals from the printable page, as well as those he invents himself. He can discuss the best way to use his hands to create different features such as horns, tails, teeth and so on.
  • To see examples of professional hand shadow artists, help your child search the Internet for video clips.

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