Earth Science Lesson Plans
The Mesozoic Era

Notes for the leader/teacher on The Earth Science Lesson Plans The Mesozoic Era:

The Mesozoic Era is the time of the great reptiles. Students will likely already have some knowledge of the species that existed during this era. Focus for the era should be on the new life form (reptiles) as a result of the receding waters and condition on land to support the reptiles. As before, keep it simple to allow for individual investigation. Dialogue for the lesson is included in bold and italics. Things you would do during the lesson are in CAPITAL LETTERS.

Prerequisites for The Earth Science Lesson Plans The Mesozoic Era: Intro to Clock of Eras; Hadean, Archaean, Proterozoic and Paleozoic presentations.
Materials for The Earth Science Lesson Plans The Mesozoic Era:

  • A clock of eras chart. Click here for a printable version
  • A blank or non-colored chart. Click here for a printable version
  • Loose pieces for each of the Eras (You’ll use four sections in this lesson: The Hadean, Archaean, the Proterozoic, Paleozoic and Mesozoic.)
  • (Optional: A large, black poster board or construction paper to use as a background.)
  • Templates for student follow-up
  • Research suggestion cards or papers to guide independent investigation

Presentation of The Earth Science Lesson Plans The Mesozoic Era:

  1. Review of previous presentations (SHOW BLANK CLOCK OF ERAS AND LAY DOWN EACH PERIOD AS YOU REVIEW THE NAMES.) We have learned about millions of years in our Earth’s development. We started with the Hadean Time when the Earth’s crust was formed. We continued with the Archaean Time when the oceans were formed and cells developed in the oceans. Next came the Proterozoic Era when the cyanobacteria worked with the sun to produce and oxygen-rich atmosphere and the foriminiferans cleaned the oceans of the deadly salts. (SHOW THE PALEOZOIC ERA PIECE.) After all this preparation, life exploded in the next Era: the Paleozoic Era. All the life of this era was in the ancient seas. At the end of this era, something happened that caused a great extinction of the life forms that had existed. These changes prepared the Earth for its next chapter.
  2. (SHOW THE MESOZOIC ERA PIECE) This piece represents the Mesozoic Era. It is the next Era on our clock. The Earth looked very different now. The land mass had moved around on the Earth’s surface. The seas were lower. There were different types of land regions: tropical forests, marshlands and even deserts. The Mesozoic Era is shown in brown because many of the most important life forms were now on the land instead of in the sea. It took most of the Mesozoic Era for life on Earth to recover from the mass extinction. New life forms had developed and made new habitats. Because life had to exist in dry land habitats, new systems for survival and reproduction had to develop. The primitive plant life actually did better than most of the animals during the mass extinction because they were already beginning to have strategies for living out of the water. Plant life during the Mesozoic developed stems with special tissues for containing water and carrying it up and down from roots to leaves. They also developed a way to reproduce using seeds. Animals developed systems in their bodies to survive during times of drought. Amphibians, that still needed to spend most of their time in the water, developed a way to breathe outside of the water as well as inside the water. Reptiles, that learned to live in the deserts, had tough outer skin to hold the water in their bodies and were cold-blooded to withstand the extreme changes in temperature. Because of their successful adaptations, reptiles became giant species and ruled over all the other species on the Earth at that time. Reptiles lived on land, in the seas and in the air. Even though mammals existed during this time, they were small and not very important in the whole scheme of life during the Mesozoic. At the end of the Mesozoic another mass extinction occurred. No one really knows what caused it, but many scientists think that the Earth might have been hit by a giant meteor or that a huge volcano erupted. No matter what caused the change, it brought an end to the giant reptiles and set the stage for a new kind of life on the Earth.

Follow up for The Earth Science Lesson Plans The Mesozoic Era:

  • This is a good time for any age appropriate dinosaur activities or lessons.
Finished with The Earth Science Lesson Plans The Mesozoic ? The Cenozoic is the next and last lesson in this series.

Click here for more information on The Clock Of Eras