Learning Resources: Dinosaurs & Del Toro Moon

Del Toro Moon by Darby Karchut is a magical Middle Grade adventure with talking horses, medieval knights, and modern day cowboys. It’s a wild ride that will knock your boots off! Why dinosaurs then, you ask? Well, one of the main characters, a cute, sassy girl named Perry, is the daughter of a paleontologist whose work in the remote deserts of Colorado is what kicks off the story for Matt, his family, and their lovable war horses.

Both Perry’s mom and her paleontology become a bigger theme throughout the series, but Del Toro Moon is such a fun introduction to the topic, and who doesn’t love dinosaurs?

Click here for an intro video of Del Toro Moon

This week we’ll be talking about dinosaurs and some fun activities to get you excited for Darby Karchut’s amazing summer giveaways that you can find here.

Paleontology Practice | Skills: Research, Descriptions, Fine Motor Skills, Storytelling | Ages: Middle Grade, Teen

Paleontology is the study of dinosaurs and other ancient life forms.

How well do you know your dinosaurs? We’re guessing you’re closer to being a paleontologist than you think!

  • Print a copy of this worksheet, draw your own version, or make a collage of dinosaur pictures from magazines or the internet. 
  • Label each type of dinosaur
  • List three characteristics of each dinosaur that are unique to them.
  • Tell your parent or a friend what you’ve learned. Have fun discussing the many fascinating traits of different types of dinosaurs!

Dino Terrarium | Skills: Nature, Creating, Design, Nurturing | Ages: Young Children, Middle Grade, Teen

Terrariums are small indoor gardens, kind of like a mini-greenhouse. They are also the perfect home for a dinosaur friend or two.

The cool thing about terrariums is that they are basically a mini-ecosystem, where the plants and the soil in the terrarium release water vapor, which then condenses onto the walls of the bottle or jar before trickling back into the soil.

They recycle their own water and can be a lot of fun to make and care for.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A glass jar or plastic bottle with a lid. We used an empty 2 liter soda bottle. Remove all labels and rinse out any liquid.
  • Small plants or seeds
  • Potting soil
  • Rocks or glass pebbles to line the bottom of the container.
  • A small dinosaur, horse, or other creature to live in the container and guard your plants (okay, this one is not strictly necessary, but it makes it more fun!).

Here are our versions with both a horse and a dinosaur. If horses are more your speed than dinosaurs, Del Toro Moon is definitely for you!

Here’s what you’ll do:

  • Have an adult cut the top off of your plastic bottle, leaving about 1/3 on the bottom. If you’re using a glass jar, you can skip this step.
  • Fill the bottom of the bottle with pebbles or glass beads. This helps with drainage and allows the water space to condense, so it’s not trapped in the thick soil. My little guy wanted to use red rocks so they looked like lava, but you can’t see those very well here. Whatever you decide on, make that about an inch or two of the bottom.
  • Fill the rest with soil, leaving an inch or two at the top for planting.
  • Using a spoon, dig out a small hole for each of your seeds or plants.
  • Plant your seeds or plants and gently tamp down the soil.
  • Water your plant just enough that the soil is moist.
  • Add your little garden creatures. We tried both a dino and a horse, and we loved both! Smaller dinos would have worked better, but the bigger one is what we had on hand.
  • Cut small slits on either side of the top half so that it fits over the bottom half.
  • Place somewhere that it gets good lighting but isn’t in direct sunlight.

The first day it may look foggy in your terrarium, but as the plants and moisture settle in, you’ll start to see droplets forming on the inside. These will water the plants in your little ecosystem. If your plants ever look too dry, remove the lid and add drops of water until the soil is damp, but don’t overwater.

Enjoy watching your magical dino ecosystem!

Dinosaur Tic-Tac-Toe | Skills: Strategy, Reasoning, Fine Motor Skills,  | Ages: Young Children, Middle Grade, Teen

Who doesn’t love a good game of Tic-Tac-Toe? We all could use a little strategy in our lives! And it just might be even better with these little dino friends.

To play:

  • Print the Tic-Tac-Toe board or draw your own on a piece of paper, on a sidewalk with chalk, or create the grid on your carpet with painters tape.
  • Print out SET 1 or SET 2 of our dinosaur friends and cut them out. You can either use them as is or attach them to a recycled lid or other item for durability. We used baby food jars. If you don’t have a printer, draw your own or use the more traditional Xs and Os in the squares.
  • Play with you and one other person. Alternate turns to place your piece in a square on the grid. The first player to get 3 dinos in a row (up, down, across, or diagonally) is the winner!

Dinosaur Skating | Skills: Fine and Gross Motor Skills, Strategy, Eye-hand Coordination | Ages: Young Children, Middle Grade, Teen

Using the dinosaur pieces from the above Tic-Tac-Toe game, print, cut out, and mount the dinosaurs on recycled lids. We used baby food lids.

Tape painters tape or mark the opposing lines with a piece of string or yarn. Each player will have a line or goal in front of them.

Take turns flicking your pieces toward the goal opposite of you. You can either play for fun or you can keep score and see who makes the most dinosaur goals as the pieces skate across your finish line.

Paleontology Word Search | Skills: Problem Solving, Language Learning, Vocabulary, Spelling | Ages: Middle Grade, Teen

We all love a good word search! Print out this version to practice your sharp paleontologist eye as you search for dino-related vocabulary words.

When you’ve found them all, have fun coloring the Hadrosaurids and foliage in a way that’s unique to you!


We hope these activities have been fun! Don’t forget to check out Darby Karchut’s summer giveaways and grab a copy of Del Toro Moon to keep your children reading this summer!

P.S. We don’t usually share products, but these are two dinosaur-related products we’ve recently loved at our house.

BAODLON Kids Dinosaur Toy Painting Kit w/ 10 Dinosaur Figurines. This one was fun because they’re decent sized dinos (4-6 inches) and there are 10 of them, so there’s plenty of variety. I thought they’d be ceramic, but they were just like the plastic dinosaurs kids play with, which I loved because they were actually made to use. My 8 year old thought they were so fun to decorate. Some looked authentic. Some looked like a rainbow exploded. Both were delightful.

Dinosaur Egg Fossil Dig. This one is messy, but you basically have 15 eggs that you “excavate” to find toy dinosaurs inside. There’s an ID card to determine the different types, and my kids, ages 8-13, had a lot of fun breaking them open and learning about each type they found. There are several varieties available, but this was the one we tried.

Happy dino days!

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