Dino Dan



Young paleontologist teaches kids about Jurassic giants.

What parents need to know

Educational value

The series exposes kids to different dinosaur species, examining their lifestyles, eating habits, and defense mechanisms. The show’s use of CGI allows kids to see the dinosaurs in action as hunters and protectors of their young. Each episode also introduces unfamiliar words like “herbivore” and “paleontologist” and includes their definitions so kids can expand their vocabularies.

Positive messages

The show celebrates kids’ natural curiosity and impetus to learn by observing the world around them. Each story relates a classroom topic to a new question Dan has raised about how dinosaurs lived.

Positive role models

Teachers and kids alike encourage Dan’s interest in dinosaurs, and they allow him the freedom to make connections between class work and his paleontological knowledge.

Violence & scariness

Some fighting among the dinosaurs to replicate real-life coexistence, but no injuries or death.

Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this series is a surefire hit for kids with a passion for dinosaurs, since its CGI subjects come to life right in front of their eyes. The twist that puts the great beasts in modern time rather than in their own time period gives the show an even more exaggerated feeling of innocence, and the lack of violence -- beyond the occasional head butt or tail slap -- makes it totally kid-friendly. In addition to exposing kids to a variety of dinosaur species, the show also includes science-based vocabulary words and their definitions.

What's the story?

DINO DAN centers on young Dan Henderson (Jason Spevack), an aspiring paleontologist who discovers that learning how dinosaurs lived is as easy as looking out at his own backyard. Unbeknownst to everyone else, Dan can see dinosaurs roaming the streets, parks, and school grounds amid the unsuspecting people, and by watching them interact, he learns a lot about how they lived so many years ago.

Is it any good?


CGI brings to colorful life these replicas of the Jurassic giants, and kids will delight in the chance to see what scientists believed them to look like during their heyday. Their physical appearance, size, and demeanor hold clues for kids to the way they lived, ate, and protected their young. In addition, each new story introduces kids to and defines science-based vocabulary words like “herbivore” in an attempt to increase their vocabulary.

Older kids will find the show a little cheesy and overacted, but younger kids who don’t know the difference will enjoy the chance to see these dinosaurs in action. The best news is that compared to other CGI dino tales marketed for kids, this one is completely harmless, since the dinosaurs’ interactions are brief and virtually violence-free.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about science. What aspects of science are your favorites? How does studying science help us understand the world around us? Why is it important to learn about extinct species like dinosaurs?

  • Kids: What are your favorite hobbies or interests? What books or other rescources help you learn more about these interests? How do they relate to your home or school life? Do your friends share your interests?

  • What kinds of fossils have been found where you live? What do they tell us about the creatures and people who lived here before us? Where can you go to see some of these items?

TV details

Cast:Jason Spevack
Network:Nick Jr.
Topics:Dinosaurs, Science and nature
TV rating:TV-Y
Available on:DVD

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Educator and Parent Written bydebn6 May 11, 2013

Concerns about the message this show gives children

As a parent and clinical psychologist I really struggle with this show. The creators missed the mark. Dan has many of the hallmarks of a pervasive developmental disorder, which is absolutely fine if the message the creators wanted to give was a show about how he is able to improve his social skills and live in his world of dinosaurs and effectively interact with others as well. Sadly, this is not the show that was created. In this show there is no mention of Dan's obvious struggles. Instead, he focuses with an extreme obsession on his singular topic of interest- dinos. He exhibits a complete lack of social skills, turning every conversation, including classroom lessons, back to his worldview about dinosaurs and cannot engage with anyone about anything else. Further, he exhibits such rigid thinking about this topic that he cannot accept others opinions either. The adults in his world perpetually seem a little annoyed by him, from his mother to his classroom teachers who try in vain to get him to think about life outside of dinosaurs. Due to his lack of social awareness he is oblivious to their frustrations. (I won't even start in on the issue of his father who is perpetually absent on his paleontology work and the relationship between that and Dan's obsession.) In summary, I think the show either needs to go further and acknowledge Dan's struggles as an opportunity to educate about kids who live with pervasive developmental disorders. If the show moved in this direction it could be a teaching tool and an important resource as well as a positive role model for children. However, as the show currently stands it should go off the air completely.
Parent Written byMom-of-2-boys March 26, 2011

Don't know what everyone's complaining about.

For those who are complaining about how boring the show is - well it's not designed for you. Your preschooler thinks the same thing of The Apprentice, Greys Anatomy and The Office. My 2 year old (not even 2 1/2 yet) loves it, and he actually knows more about dinosaurs than I do because of this show. He can name dinos with 4-syllable names - can you do that? Yes, it's dorky with goofy acting - I still see major Canadian actors signing up for roles so it can't be that bad. Yes, the main character "sees" dinosaurs - it's called imaginative, not schizophrenic. Yes, he lives with his brother and mom, who happens to be divorced from his dad who lives elsewhere for work - this isn't uncommon in our society, and while it's not the easiest way to raise a family it's still how many families live. At the end of the day it's a show that is great for young kids - if it scares your child (which I find is more in the parent's head than anything else - the dinos are neon colored and never aggressive) then put something else on. But for my money, while it's annoying to me as an adult my son LOVES it, so it's on in our house daily.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great role models
Kid, 10 years old February 2, 2011

Too scary and shouldn't belong on a preschool channel

I can't believe this show goes on Nick Jr. That's a preschool channel! I really don't think that this show is for preschoolers. The dinosaurs are very realistic and dinosaurs are scary for young kids like preschoolers. Also, they show them fighting! Double scary...
What other families should know
Too much violence
Educational value
Great role models


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