Review + Teachers’ Notes: ‘Dinosaur Day Out’


Title: Dinosaur Day Out
Author/Illustrator: Sara Acton
Publisher: Walker Books
Age Range: early childhood
Themes: dinosaurs, museums, books, family, Sydney

Click on title links or cover image to purchase.

Siblings Sally and Max are off to see the dinosaurs at the museum with their dad! They are most excited about the dinosaur exhibition but when they arrive they find it is closed. Dad instead buys a book about dinosaurs at the museum shop and off they go on a walk through the city, reading about dinosaurs as they go – the pterodactyl, the stegosaurus and so on goes the list of dinosaurs dad reads about.

Dad is so utterly engrossed in the book that he is totally unaware that Sally and Max are seeing those dinosaurs from the book roaming around the city! There’s a fabulous lesson in visual literacy in this book – with the pictures telling a different story to the text.

A gorgeous addition to the home or school library for dinosaur lovers of all ages.

Follow it Up in the Home, Classroom or Library

Teachers’ Notes prepared by teacher Melissa Kroeger for Children’s Books Daily in context with the Australian Curriculum.

Title: Dinosaur Day Out
Author/Illustrator: Sara Acton


  • English


  • Critical and Creative Thinking
  • Literacy



  1. Without showing the cover, tell students the title ‘Dinosaur Day Out’ and ask what they think the book might be about. Discuss.

2. Show the front cover to the students and discuss further.

  • What could the book be about?
  • What kind of dinosaur is on the front cover?
  • Who are the main characters?
  • What are the children doing? Why do you think so?
  • What is the adult doing? Why do you think so?
  • Where are they? (outside the museum)
  • What is a museum? What kinds of things would you see at a museum? Who has been to one?
  • In the title the word ‘Dinosaur’ is in green and the words ‘Day Out’ are in other colours. Why do you think this has been done this way? Can colours help to represent a word? Discuss some examples of other words that could be written in green to help represent them –peas, broccoli, grass, aliens etc.
  • Open the book flat to display the front and back covers – the illustration is continued onto the back cover. Why as the illustrator done that? Is it to try to show us that dinosaurs are very LARGE? What other large things could be displayed like that to help us understand that they are big? Whales? Bus? Mansion?

3. Read the blurb.  Who do you think Sally and Max are? Can you see them on the front cover? Do you think that dinosaurs exist anymore? And where would they go on their day off?

4. Sara Acton is the only name on the front cover. What does that mean? – she is the author and the illustrator.

5. What mediums has Sara Acton used for her illustrations? Pencil, watercolours.

6. Let’s have a look at the endpapers – what dinosaurs do you know? There is one difference between the front endpaper and the back endpaper, what is it?

 After reading the book

  • Do you think that the dinosaurs were really walking around? Or do you think that Sally and Max had wonderful imaginations? What makes you think that?
  • What facts did you learn about dinosaurs? Make a list.
  • If fiction books are stories and non-fiction books have facts and information, what type of book do you think this is? Fiction or non-fiction?

To continue this, let’s compare a fiction text and a non-fiction text and look at the differences in features:


Content Description: ACELY1665
Discuss different texts on a similar topic, identifying similarities and differences between the texts


  • comparing two or more versions of the same topic by different authors or from different cultures, describing similarities and differences


Content Description: ACELA1463
Understand that different types of texts have identifiable text structures and language features that help the text serve its purpose


  • identifying the topic and type of a text through its visual presentation, for example cover design, packaging, title/subtitle and images
  • becoming familiar with the typical stages of text types, for example simple narratives, instructions and expositions


Content Description: ACELY1711
Analyse how text structures and language features work together to meet the purpose of a text


  • comparing the structures and features of different texts, including print and digital sources on similar topics, and evaluating which features best aid navigation and clear communication about the topic


Content Description: ACELY1711
Analyse how text structures and language features work together to meet the purpose of a text


  • comparing the structures and features of different texts, including print and digital sources on similar topics, and evaluating which features best aid navigation and clear communication about the topic


Content Description: ACELT1602
Make connections between the ways different authors may represent similar storylines, ideas and relationships


  • commenting on how authors have established setting and period in different cultures and times and the relevance of characters, actions and beliefs to their own time
  • comparing different authors’ treatment of similar themes and text patterns, for example comparing fables and allegories from different cultures and quest novels by different authors

For this activity you will need two books – ‘Dinosaur Day Out’ and a non-fiction text on dinosaurs, such as: ‘Steve Parish Amazing Facts: Australian Dinosaurs’, J. Wright, A Cook, S. Hucknell, Pascal Press, 2006 or any other appropriate book you may have.

After reading ‘Dinosaur Day Out’ and promoting discussion (as above in ‘After reading the book’) discuss the features of this fiction book –

  • title
  • front and back covers
  • spine
  • blurb
  • hand drawn/painted illustrations with not huge amounts of detail
  • endpapers
  • inside title page

Text Features:

  • characters – main (and supporting)
  • setting
  • problem or conflict
  • plot (or what happened first, second, last and what was the main idea of the story?)

You could even continue this with a worksheet like this, done together as a class (on a whiteboard) or individually/ small groups to help you tease it out more.

Now, compare this to the non-fiction book on dinosaurs that you have selected. You will not be required to read this book from front cover to back! Just small parts of it.

Introduce the book to your students and look at the following:

  • title (oh look – so does ‘Dinosaur Day Out’)
  • front and back covers (oh look – so does ‘Dinosaur Day Out’)
  • spine (oh look – so does ‘Dinosaur Day Out’)
  • blurb (hmmm…a little different to ‘Dinosaur Day Out’…in what way?)
  • illustrations with loads of detail and photographs within the book
  • no endpapers
  • no inside title page

Discuss the text features of the non-fiction book:

  • Table of Contents (not in ‘Dinosaur Day Out’)
  • Illustrations AND photographs (no photographs in ‘Dinosaur Day Out’)
  • Captions near illustrations and photographs (not in Dinosaur Day Out’)
  • Maps (not in Dinosaur Day Out’)
  • Subtitles (not in Dinosaur Day Out’)
  • Special print (there IS some in ‘Dinosaur Day Out’)
  • Labels (not in Dinosaur Day Out’)
  • Subtitles (not in Dinosaur Day Out’)
  • Comparisons (not in Dinosaur Day Out’)
  • Index (not in Dinosaur Day Out’)
  • Glossary (not in Dinosaur Day Out’)

Print out this Non-Fiction text features grid and cut into cards (laminate if you like). Place Blu-Tak on the back of the cards.

You could photocopy pages of the Non-Fiction text which display the text features from the link and display them on a board (depending on copyright). Or you could just use the book and turn pages to find the appropriate features.

Place the cards in your hand face down and choose a student to take a card. They read out the card then find the page in the book or on the display with the text feature and stick it next to it. Continue for all cards. Promote discussion along the way.




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