Category: Educational Activities

Celebrating All Things Dinosaur

Dinosaurs – End of Topic “Wow”!

For the Reception class at St Lawrence CE Primary, today was a special “dinosaur day”, as to help draw their term topic to a close, a visit from Everything Dinosaur had been arranged.  The eager explorers and budding young palaeontologists have been studying dinosaurs and fossils since the beginning of the Spring Term and there was a lot of lovely dinosaur themed writing and prehistoric animal inspired artwork on display in the classroom.

Dinosaurs on Display in the Classroom

Lots of literacy and numeracy activities displayed.

Lots of literacy and numeracy activities displayed.

Picture Credit: St Lawrence CE Primary/Everything Dinosaur

The children had certainly been enjoying their topic.  Teacher Mrs Rogerson, ably supported by the two teaching assistants, had put together an exciting and diverse scheme of work for the children.  The Reception class had been involved in a wide range of activities, all aimed at helping to develop everyday skills and to support learning.  The children had even brought in some of their dinosaur models and toys from home.  The classroom had been turned into a Lancashire’s very own “Jurassic Park”!

Inspiring Confidence with Numbers

The extension ideas and additional resources provided by our fossil expert will help develop the children’s confidence with numbers.  Will they be up to one of our “pinkie palaeontologist challenges” and have a go at calculating just how big some dinosaur footprints could be?  Working in small groups, the children demonstrated a good grasp of simple subtraction and they were confident when it came to using the measuring cubes and comparing their own hands to the feet of some dinosaurs.  One of the other extension activities involves an unusual way of measuring a fearsome Tyrannosaurus rex, perhaps the class can try this activity in the hall, as quite a bit of space will be needed.

Encouraging Writing

The children demonstrated lots of existing knowledge, using terms like Cretaceous and Mesozoic, which was most impressive.  We set some writing challenges, all based around non-fiction writing.  We wonder if any of the children’s dinosaur facts will get posted up onto the display wall, next to all their wonderful artwork?

Chalk Drawings of Dinosaurs on Display

Reception class uses different materials to explore dinosaurs.

Reception class uses different materials to explore dinosaurs.

Linking Dinosaurs and Space

After half-term the children will be moving on to learn all about space and the planets.  Whilst Everything Dinosaur worked with the children in the spacious hall, the teaching assistants could prepare the classroom in readiness for the new topic.  How to link dinosaurs and space?  Fortunately, our expert was on hand to explain which dinosaur fossils have been into space and to send links to Mrs Rogerson to help support the topic transition.  In addition, when the extraterrestrial object slammed into planet Earth, marking the end of the “Age of the Dinosaurs”, the explosion was so powerful that sea creatures were shot so high into the air, that they may have left Earth’s orbit.  Some Ammonites could have landed on the moon!

Ammonites Shot into Outer Space

How many Ammonites can you count?

How many Ammonites can you count?

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Inspiring Dinosaur Themed Activities for Reception Classes

Reception Classes Get Creative with Dinosaurs

As Everything Dinosaur team members visit schools up and down the country delivering dinosaur workshops, they get to meet lots of teachers and it is always a pleasure to see the engaging and imaginative ways in which teaching teams are delivering the national curriculum.  Take for example, the two Reception classes at Higher Openshaw Community School (Manchester).  These two classes have been learning all about dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals this term.  A tour of the classrooms provided an insight into the highly creative and imaginative teaching activities that the children had been enjoying.  It seems even the playground had been taken over at one point as teachers, Miss Burke and Mrs Ashworth had made painted outlines of dinosaurs to help the children appreciate the size and scale of some prehistoric monsters.

Reception Children Explore Ideas About Extinction

Reception children explore ideas about dinosaur extinction.

Reception children explore ideas about dinosaur extinction.

Picture Credit: Higher Openshaw Community School/Everything Dinosaur

There were lots of examples of children’s writing on display in the well-organised classrooms.  There was even a special dinosaur exploration area to help the children understand more about life in the past.  As the term topic draws to a close, the Reception classes will be looking at extinction theories and during Everything Dinosaur’s visit, a number of the children were keen to point out that “a rock fell from the sky and killed all the dinosaurs”, well, these budding palaeontologists seem to have grasped the fundamentals of the extraterrestrial impact theory that’s for sure.

However, the teachers are keen to look at other extinction theories, such as the influence on our planet’s climate as a result of the massive amount of Late Cretaceous volcanic activity.  Hence the very colourful volcano display in Miss Burke’s classroom.  Coloured tissue paper makes great lava and the volcano provides a focal point, around which examples of the children’s hand-writing and independent research can be exhibited.

Some of the children have started to use examples of similes in their hand-writing exercises, this demonstrates excellent progress for Foundation Stage 2.  The children have obviously been as speedy as Velociraptors in picking up simile usage.

Dinosaurs as a term topic provides excellent opportunities to move the children gradually away from free flowing play activities to more structured formal learning, in preparation for the move up to Year 1.  The children had certainly been having a lot of fun, the scheme of work for this term topic had been skilfully crafted by the teachers with the able support of the enthusiastic teaching assistants.

Fossil Themed Sand Tray Activities

Both classrooms had sand trays so that a mini-dinosaur excavation activity could be set up for the children.  Ms Saylaby explained that she had placed some real fossils into the sand so that the children could learn about how fossils form, where they are found and how they are excavated.  We supported this element, by letting the children handle real fossils during our workshop, some of which, as the children discovered, felt very cold and were really, really heavy!

Reception Children Learn About Fossils

Real fossils and fossil models to explore in a sand tray activity.

Real fossils and fossil models to explore in a sand tray activity.

Picture Credit: Higher Openshaw Community School/Everything Dinosaur

Some of the fossils in the sand tray in Mrs Ashworth’s class are shown in the photograph above, the fossil expert from Everything Dinosaur explained how the fossils formed and which animals they represent.  There were some particularly nice examples of Gryphaea in the tray.  Gryphaea (graff-fee-ah) formed dense beds, very much like oysters today and they are common as fossils on the North Yorkshire and Cleveland coasts.  Palaeontologists can learn a lot from these fossils, as growth rings are often preserved on the fossilised shells.  They also suggest that these fossils formed in shallow seas, close to an ancient coastline.  The specimens in the tray date from the Jurassic.

The Fossils in the Sand Tray Come from a Jurassic Sea

Dolphin-like prehistoric animals.

Providing information about prehistoric habitats.

The fossil models also seen  in the sand tray come from a set that we at Everything Dinosaur know very well.  This is the Ancient Fossils Set, which we use in our teaching work: Set of Ten Ancient Fossils they are great for creative play.

Our dinosaur workshop and the extension activities provided will help the teaching team to round off the term topic.  Clearly, the children have really enjoyed all the activities and benefited from such an enriching learning environment that the hard-working staff at Higher Openshaw Community School have created.

Reception Childen Get Excited About Dinosaurs

Reception Classes Study Dinosaurs

It has been a busy day at Mount Carmel RC Primary (Manchester, England) as the two classes of Reception children have been learning about dinosaurs and fossils with a special workshop conducted by an Everything Dinosaur team member.  The children in Foundation Stage Two, have been studying dinosaurs and life in the past over the course of this half-term and they were keen to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of the subject.  With the help of the enthusiastic teaching team, the eager pupils had created lots of artwork and some super examples of hand-writing in their dinosaur workbooks.

The bright and well-organised classrooms were adorned with lots of prehistoric animal themed work that the children had produced.  Our dinosaur expert has heard a rumour that one of the teachers has found some dinosaur eggs, we hope the children have thought about what materials might make a good nest for a dinosaur!

What will happen when the egg hatches?  We will have to wait and see…

A Busy Morning

Splitting the morning into two roughly equal sessions, divided by the mid-morning break, we were able to deliver very tactile learning with lots of fossil handling.  It was a good job that some of the children had managed to have a hearty breakfast, several of the fossils and other artefacts were heavy, but thanks to the helpful teaching assistants, the children were able cope.  Lots of photographs were taken, we especially liked the snarling dinosaur faces on the big class photograph at the end of each workshop – very scary!

The children in the two Reception classes have even been doing some homework, what a bunch of enthusiastic palaeontologists they are.  One of the teachers showed our dinosaur expert a beautiful picture that Edith had brought in to show her friends at school.  It is a wonderful picture of a Tyrannosaurus rex.  Can you remember how many fingers T. rex had altogether?

A Wonderful Dinosaur Picture Sent in by Edith (Reception Class)

Edith painted a lovely dinosaur picture.

Edith painted a lovely dinosaur picture.

Picture Credit: Edith (Mount Carmel RC Primary School)

What a colourful picture Edith!  Lots of reds, blues and yellows and even a splash of white to help the green dinosaur feel at home.  We like the black eyes that you gave your Tyrannosaurus rex.  His eyes match the black stripe running down his back, at least we presume it’s a boy, it could be a girl T. rex.  Can the children remember the special fact our dinosaur expert told them about the Tyrannosaurus rex girls?

Extension Activities

After the visit, it was straight back to the office to email over the promised extension activities and fact sheets to help support the teaching team and their scheme of work.  We did set some of our “pinkie palaeontologist challenges”, including the design of the children’s very own dinosaur and an exercise which involved the careful measuring of dinosaur footprints.  We even sent over a picture of a T. rex and asked if the children could have a go at labelling the various parts of his body, those small arms, the fingers and the skull of course.

Reception Children Challenged to Label a Dinosaur

Can you label a T. rex?

Can you label a T. rex?

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

We are glad all the children had a great time and thanks again for the super drawing Edith.

Fossils Found at Weston Rhyn Primary School

Jupiter and Saturn Classes Study Dinosaurs

It certainly was a “dinotastic” day for children in Jupiter and Saturn classes at Weston Rhyn Primary, as these two classes spent the day learning all about prehistoric animals and fossils.  In a morning of dinosaur themed activities, the Year5/6 class (Jupiter), learned that sometimes animals believed extinct prove to be very much still with us, a little bit of homework for Mrs Jones (teaching assistant), as she was challenged to conduct some research into Coelacanths.  In addition, under the enthusiastic tutelage of the class’s teaching team the children had created a Mesozoic timeline listing all the geological periods that make up the so called “Age of Dinosaurs”.  This gave our dinosaur expert an opportunity to check understanding and also allowed him to furnish the class teacher with some fact sheets to help populate the timeline with various well-known dinosaurs.  The budding young palaeontologists had a go at fossil casting as well as exploring the link between dinosaurs and birds.  Some of the children have chickens at home (one pupil even had quails).  Could they take a photograph of the bird’s feet – ample evidence here of the link between our feathered friends and meat-eating dinosaurs.

Plenty of Evidence of a Rich and Varied Teaching Programme in Key Stage 2

Excavating their own fossils.

Excavating their own fossils.

Picture Credit: Weston Rhyn Primary School/Everything Dinosaur

The fossil handling activities proved very popular and the Year 5/6 children were given the opportunity to work scientifically, investigating a strange fossil found at the bottom of a coal mine in Illinois (United States of America).

Saturn Class Get Busy with Dinosaur Research

In the afternoon, it was the turn of Saturn class and the children grappled enthusiastically with the problem of what to call a new dinosaur species.   We used a real life example to demonstrate some of the pitfalls when it comes to naming a new dinosaur, especially one with “big thighs”.  Not wishing to see Mrs Owen (teaching assistant), left out, our dinosaur expert asked her to find out about Sir Richard Owen, the English anatomist and scientist who was given the task of coming up with a name to describe what we now know as the Dinosauria.  Perhaps, Mrs Owen might even be distantly related to Sir Richard, we sent over some links and further information about the founder of the Natural History Museum (London) and asked the children could they design their very own blue plaque like the one erected at Sir Richard’s old school in Lancaster?

All in all, it was a very busy day for our team member.  There were lots of questions from the children, he did his best to answer them all.  Even the tricky ones about how Velociraptor is wrongly portrayed in movies.  Once back in the office, there was just time to email over the promised extension plans and further teaching resources to help the school’s term topic before moving onto the next dinosaur teaching assignment.  The resources and additional information should help enrich the children’s learning experience and who knows, Weston Rhyn Primary might just produce some famous scientists in the future, perhaps some who will go on to be as famous as Sir Richard Owen!

Kangaroos and Badgers Explore Dinosaurs

Children at Broom Valley Community School Study Dinosaurs

The children in Foundation Stage 2 at Broom Valley Community School (South Yorkshire), have been getting to grips with prehistoric animals as they have been studying dinosaurs this term.  The two classes, Kangaroos and Badgers, had a visit from “Dino Mike” of Everything Dinosaur, he showed them real fossils which helped to explain just how big some dinosaurs could be.  With the help of the enthusiastic teaching team, the budding young palaeontologists have been taking part in lots of creative and fun activities all geared towards helping them develop confidence with numeracy and literacy.

Lots of Colourful Prehistoric Animals on Display to Inspire the Children

Plenty of prehistoric animals on display.

Plenty of prehistoric animals on display.

Picture Credit: Broom Valley Community Primary School/Everything Dinosaur

During the workshops, the class teachers Miss Priddle (Kangaroos) and Mrs Reilly (Badgers) were encouraged to take lots of photographs of the activities.  These pictures can then be used to assist the children with a recount/recall activity to support learning.  To help the children gain an understanding of what it is like to dig for dinosaur bones, a corner of one of the classrooms had been turned into a dinosaur dig site.  A member of the teaching team had made some salt dough dinosaur bones over the weekend and with the brushes and magnifying glasses at the ready, we are sure the children will have a super time excavating all the dinosaur bones.

Going on a Classroom Dinosaur Dig

A super hands on activity for FS2

A super hands on activity for FS2

Picture Credit: Broom Valley Community Primary School/Everything Dinosaur

It is great to see such imaginative ideas being used in school to help enthuse and engage children.

If you don’t have time to make the salt dough bones, dog owners might like to take a look at any dog biscuits they have around the house for their pet.  There are usually a number of bone shaped biscuits in the packet and these make excellent “dinosaur fossils” for children to dig up and explore.

Extension Ideas

As part of the visit, the team member from Everything Dinosaur provided a number of additional teaching resources and ideas to help support the term topic.  From an exercise comparing and measuring dinosaur footprints to information on a newly discovered dinosaur that is going to feature in a forthcoming BBC television documentary.  Naturally, we were also happy to send over some drawing materials for the children.  We challenged Badgers and Kangaroos to have a go at labelling the drawings.  Could they name the various parts of an Ankylosaurus or a Tyrannosaurus rex?  Could the young scientists think of suitable describing words to include on their drawings?  We certainly had plenty of describing words when we looked at the jaw bones of a Triceratops, the children came up with a most impressive list – gigantic, massive, huge, giant – well done Kangaroos and Badgers!

A Challenge to Label a Dinosaur Drawing

Use dinosaurs to help children develop their vocabulary.

Use dinosaurs to help children develop their vocabulary.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

So You Want to be a Palaeontologist?

Practical Career Advice for Fossil Fans

One of the most frequently asked questions sent into us is how do you go about getting a job as a palaeontologist?  We provide what information and support we can to budding fossil experts (and their mums and dads), but thankfully, assistance is at hand with the publication of this helpful and most informative guide on how to develop a career in palaeontology.  Author Dr. David Penney, dissects his more than twenty years of experience in this scientific field and provides an overview of the type of career paths, those who have a love of fossils and all things prehistoric might want to consider.

So You Want to be a Palaeontologist?

Practical advice and guidance.

Practical advice and guidance.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Always put a scale on your photographs!  The book is full of tips and advice on how to stand out from other potential job applicants, whether it is as a professional fossil dealer or a scientific illustrator (palaeoartist).

This well written publication defines palaeontology before setting out the various roles and activities that palaeontologists undertake.  Dr. David Penney, expertly guides the reader through the wide variety of career options that the science now offers.  He covers the work of palaeontologists in museum related roles as well as providing a comprehensive overview of more academic focused avenues, whether as a researcher, a lecturer or a field technician.

For further information and to purchase an advance copy of this wonderful book: Visit Siri Scientific Press

Illustrated with some lovely colour plates, including some insightful behind the scenes photographs, the main section of the book is dedicated to exploring the various and very diverse jobs that someone with an interest in fossils might want to consider.  There is helpful advice on obtaining qualifications, as well as some words of encouragement for those of us who spend our time blogging about palaeontology and fossil discoveries.

If you are searching for a book which outlines a history of fossil research, then look elsewhere, but if you really want a practical and sensible walk through of the career possibilities linked to this fascinating aspect of science, then “So you want to be a palaeontologist?” is a must have for your book shelf.

The book is not aimed at younger readers, but it has been written for a very broad audience.  Students, hobby fossil collectors, writers, artists and those interested in a career in science education would do well to get hold of a copy.  Everything Dinosaur recommends this publication in particular to mums, dads, grandparents and guardians of primary school children who are expressing an interest in science and palaeontology.

For advance copies of “So you want to be a palaeontologist?”: Siri Scientific Press Website

Commenting on the book a spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur stated:

“This is a must have for anyone seriously contemplating working in palaeontology.  It also makes a great gift for anyone who is considering aspiring to be amongst the next generation of palaeontologists, or indeed for the enthusiastic fossil collector who would like to become more involved with this fascinating area of science.”

Dinosaur Hunt at Primary School

Year 1 Goes on a Dinosaur Hunt at St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School

It was a busy morning for Year 1 pupils at St Joseph’s Catholic Primary (Brighouse, West Yorkshire), as they explored dinosaurs and fossils as part of their term topic “Dinosaur hunt”.  The classroom already had plenty of examples of dinosaur themed writing as the children had written to the experts at Everything Dinosaur inviting a team member to visit to help them learn all about prehistoric animals and life in the past.

Plenty of Examples of Hand-writing on Display

Writing about dinosaurs.

Writing about dinosaurs.

Picture Credit: St Joseph’s Catholic Primary/Everything Dinosaur

Meeting up with Miss Vogel, the Year 1 class teacher, before the start of the morning of activities, a member of Everything Dinosaur’s teaching team was able to provide advice on a range of extension ideas, all aimed at supporting the learning needs of the class.  The first part of the session was located in the spacious hall, providing plenty of opportunities to introduce some physical exercises to help reinforce learning.  The second session was based in the classroom and it was focused on a prehistoric animal measuring activity, a chance for the children to practice using measuring cubes and rulers and to compare the size of dinosaur’s feet to the size of their own hands.

A Dinosaur Themed Display Wall

A dinosaur and fossil themed display wall.

A dinosaur and fossil themed display wall.

Picture Credit: St Joseph’s Catholic Primary/Everything Dinosaur

Under the enthusiastic guidance of Miss Vogel, the children had drawn some fossil ammonites and some of these had been placed on the display wall.  The children got to see some real ammonite fossils including a giant one, that Mrs Midgley (teaching assistant), helped the children explore.    The workshop encouraged a multitude of tactile activities including lots of fossil handling as well as exploring how some dinosaurs ate plants and how the brain of an Ankylosaurus compares in size to our own.

As part of the term topic, the teaching team intend to turn a corner of the classroom into a dinosaur museum so that the children’s work can be displayed.  The dinosaur expert from Everything Dinosaur provided advice on how best to do this and how to incorporate discovery learning projects that involve encouraging more hand-writing and links into building an understanding of the geography of the UK.

The Teaching Team Plan to Build a Small Dinosaur Museum 

A dinosaur museum under construction.

A dinosaur museum under construction.

Picture Credit: St Joseph’s Catholic Primary/Everything Dinosaur

The children were very excited by the dinosaur workshop and they were keen to show how much about dinosaurs they had already learned.  Mrs Midgley helped one little boy create a super dinosaur skeleton out of straws.  Well done Mrs Midgley, we love the way in which you created the dinosaur’s eye.  This is just the sort of hands-on, kinaesthetic activity that can really help younger, less confident learners.

Mrs Midgley and Her “Straw-o-saurus”

A dinosaur made from straws.

A dinosaur made from straws.

Picture Credit: St Joseph’s Catholic Primary/Everything Dinosaur

Just like a real scientist, Mrs Midgley even put her name on her work.  The children were challenged to have a go at comparing dinosaur footprints and recording information in the same way that palaeontologists do.  All in all, it was a fun and fact filled morning.

In Praise of Britain’s Regional Museums

Seek Out These Hidden Gems

According to VisitBritain, tourism to the UK swells our nation’s coffers by some £26.2 billion annually.  In 2014, there were 34.38 tourist visits to Britain, feedback from tourists be they Americans, Australians, visitors from France, Germany or ever increasingly from China, cite our country’s wonderful history and heritage as one of the key reasons for their visit.  However, for us Brits the fact that we have such a rich, varied and fantastic heritage sometimes gets overlooked.

We are very fortunate in this country to have some amazing regional museums, each telling the story of a small part of the British Isles, providing insight and access to some remarkable historical objects and artefacts.  Take as an example, Dorking Museum and Heritage Centre, based as you might guess, close to the busy centre of the Surrey town of Dorking.  For anyone with an interest in palaeontology, geology, or indeed for anyone eager to learn how these two sciences came into being, such places can provide a wonderful opportunity to indulge an inquiring mind.

Dorking 130 Million Years Ago

Dinosaurs once roamed this part of the world, in fact it is thanks to the fossil discoveries from such famous geological deposits that form the Wealden Group, that scientists in Georgian Times first had the opportunity to study the fossilised bones of the prehistoric reptiles that were to become known as the dinosaurs.  The county of Surrey played an important role in the early days of palaeontology.  Add the fact that overlying these continental deposits of clays and sandstones is the equally important Lower Greensand Formation, a later sequence of deposits formed as sea levels rose, permitting this part of England (including Dorking) to became home to a vast array of exotic and for the most part, now extinct creatures.

Dorking in the Early Cretaceous

Dinosaurs once roamed Surrey (England).

Dinosaurs once roamed Surrey (England).

Picture Credit: Natural History Museum (London)

The picture above shows a large Ornithopod (Iguanodon) in the foreground, with two Hypsilophodont dinosaurs close by.  An armoured Polacanthus slowly makes its way across the fern rich lowlands, whilst close to the shoreline a Theropod dinosaur can be seen consuming its latest kill.  The posture of the dinosaurs shown in this illustration is now a little outdated, but fossils collected from the various quarries that surround Dorking provide ample evidence that such creatures did indeed roam this part of the world some 130 million years ago.

On Display at Dorking Museum and Heritage Centre – Tail Bones from an Iguanodon

On display at the museum.

On display at the museum.

Picture Credit: Dorking Museum and Heritage Centre

One of the local fossil finds is the tail of an Iguanodon, a Wealden dinosaur, found during the excavation of a well at Capel in 1891.  It is on show at the Museum in the original case built for its display.  Many of the fossils within the Museum’s collection were donated to the founding committee of the Dorking Museum back in 1948 by Roland Cubitt, the 3rd Baron Ashcombe.  The “Ashcombe Collection” consists of an eclectic range of minerals and fossils assembled by George Cubitt, the 1st Baron Ashcombe, in the 19th century.  A large part of this important geological collection is made up of local chalk fossils, many of them unearthed during chalk quarrying at nearby Ranmore.  The 1st Baron Ashcombe rewarded employees for delivering fossils to him and shared his discoveries with early experts, including the anatomist Richard Owen, who was influential in the foundation of the London Natural History Museum.  The fossil collection on show at the Dorking Museum and Heritage Centre is fondly known as ‘Lord Ashcombe’s teeth’.  There are particular strengths in crustaceans and fish, but the collection also includes teeth and bones of mammoths, woolly rhinoceri and the like from the Ice Age gravels of the River Mole.

The Fossilised Teeth of a Woolly Rhino

The molars of an ancient Woolly Rhino.

The molars of an ancient Woolly Rhino.

Picture Credit: Dorking Museum and Heritage Centre

Ice Age Dorking

The well defined roots of the molars can be easily seen in the photograph, particularly in the tooth at the top of the picture.  The gravels of the River Mole still occasionally yield Pleistocene fossils as the river winds its way through the valley before it links up with the River Thames at Hampton Court.  The valley and its surrounding geology, including that all important Cretaceous Wealden Group, are the focus of attention of the Mole Valley Geological Society, but the Dorking Museum gives visitors the chance to explore the geology of the town itself as regular tours are conducted through the impressive South Street Caves.  An opportunity to view the chalk formations of southern England from a very different perspective and to indulge in a little bit of local history as well.

To visit the website of the Mole Valley Geological Society: Mole Valley Geological Society

An Outstanding Archive

Around the main museum, themed panels explore periods, events, themes and individuals that have played a part in the history of the town and its surrounding villages.  These are supported by paintings, posters, photographs and artefacts that bring the stories to life.  Digital frames inset into the panels, and things to touch and smell, puzzle and try on all enhance the visitor experience.

The Museum houses an outstanding archive including books, maps, photographs and documents that tells the story of Dorking and the surrounding area.  From important dinosaur discoveries and fossil fish through to historical characters such as William Mullins one of the Pilgrim Fathers that set sail for America, to more recent luminaries such as the composer Ralph Vaughan Williams and the celebrated actor Lord Laurence Olivier.

The Museum is more than just a building, however, it forms a vibrant community resource.  The volunteer team works with local schools, care homes, clubs and youth groups to enhance understanding of the history of the area.  There are talks, walks, activities and visits, as well as resources for reminiscence activities and loan boxes for schools.

Dorking Museum opening times: Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 10am – 4pm.
Admission: Adults £2, Concessions £1, Under-5s free, Family ticket £4.50 (prices correct at time of publication)

For more information on this fascinating regional museum visit: Dorking Museum and Heritage Centre

Emphasising the Importance of Regional Museums

Regional museums are not just the sole preserve of tourists and the curious members of the public keen to learn about local history.  Sometimes, such institutions can play a significant role in research.  For instance, the Ashcombe collection includes a fossilised pliosaur skull found in the Dorking chalk pits during the 1850’s.  Richard Owen, no less, identified it as a pliosaur called Polyptychodon interruptus, but vertebrate palaeontologist Dr Roger Benson (Oxford University) cast doubt on Owen’s conclusion.  Dr Benson states that this specimen has close affinities to a pliosaur genus known from North America and as such, the Dorking specimen might represent the fossilised remains of one of the last of these great marine reptiles to have lived.

To read more about the Dorking specimen research: Pliosaur Skull Links Dorking to Kansas

Funded entirely by public donation and staffed by a dedicated team of enthusiastic volunteers, the Dorking Museum and Heritage Centre is just one of those hidden gems to be found in Britain’s towns and cities.  We at Everything Dinosaur, take time out today to pay tribute to the work of such institutions and to acknowledge their contribution to the preservation of our country’s heritage and for their assistance in the advancement of the science of palaeontology.

To contact the Museum via email:

Everything Dinosaur and the Festive Period

Christmas Time and Dinosaurs

Team members at Everything Dinosaur are working up to the late afternoon of Christmas Eve.  We have blog posts to finish for museums, a teaching resources article to complete and the warehouse needs a quick tidy up before Santa drops in.  We will also be monitoring the emails to deal with any customer queries should any arise.  In addition, we shall be keeping a listen out just in case we get any last minute phone calls.  As for the office and our working arrangements over the Christmas period, we shall of course, be taking a well earned break.  However, team members will be on hand throughout the majority of the holiday season to make sure that emails and other correspondence are answered promptly.

Nearly All Prepared for Christmas at Everything Dinosaur

Even members of the Thyreophora celebrate Christmas it seems.

Even members of the Thyreophora celebrate Christmas it seems.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Joys of the Annual Stock Take

Once the festivities are over, we shall be commencing our annual stock take.  This is a bit of a tradition and the task is made bearable thanks to lots of hot coffee, mince pies and a few savoury morsels to keep us all going.  Undertaking an inventory of our product range and fossil collection is quite an onerous task, we have thousands of products and lots and lots of fossils, even though this year we have given away a great many of our smaller specimens to schools and other institutions as part of our work in schools.  Speaking of which, January is going to be yet another record breaking month for our dinosaur workshops in schools.

We are going to have so much fun working with all the school children.

To learn about Everything Dinosaur’s outreach programme: Everything Dinosaur’s Work in Schools

Back to School with Dinosaurs, Rocks and Fossils

Everything Dinosaur and teaching work in schools.

Everything Dinosaur and teaching work in schools.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

New Models from CollectA, Papo, Rebor Safari Ltd, Schleich etc.

2016 will see us once again expanding our product range with lots of new dinosaur models and replicas.  Only this morning we were telephoned by one of the senior managers at Papo, he wanted to tell us how excited he was after having seen the new Papo prehistoric animal models that are due out next  year.  In particular, he was “bowled over” by the new Papo Baryonyx replica that is going to be in stock at Everything Dinosaur sometime in quarter 1.

The New for 2016 Papo Baryonyx Dinosaur Replica

Papo Baryonyx dinosaur model - available early 2016 from Everything Dinosaur.

Papo Baryonyx dinosaur model – available early 2016 from Everything Dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Papo with additional annotation by Everything Dinosaur

To read our exclusive article on the new Papo prehistoric animal model range: New from Papo for 2016

We have some interesting new additions to our portfolio so check out our Facebook page, social media and this blog for exciting announcements in the next few weeks.

Predictions and Prehistoric Favourites

Over the next few days we shall also be finalising our palaeontology predictions for the year ahead, as well as looking back on the predictions we made this year.  In addition, we have our annual list of the most popular prehistoric animals of 2015 to compile, given all the dinosaur sales, letters, pictures and fossil photographs we receive this will take some calculating.

Everything Dinosaur’s palaeontology predictions for 2015: Palaeontology and Fossil Predictions for 2015

That’s enough about the future, just time to return to the present and to wish all our customers, supporters, followers and fans a Merry Christmas.

Dinosaurs, Rocks and Fossils

Dinosaurs, Rocks and Fossils with Year 3 (Broadway Primary School)

A busy morning spent working with the enthusiastic pupils in Year 3 at Broadway Primary as the children have been learning about life in the past and exploring dinosaurs as their topic for the second part of the autumn term.  This subject area links nicely into the national curriculum science element for England at Lower Key Stage 2 (Rocks, Animals and Working Scientifically).  One of the aims of that part of the curriculum related to learning about different types of rocks involves explaining how fossils form and what fossils can tell us about extinct animals.  The girls and boys got the chance to cast their own fossils from Everything Dinosaur’s collection and thanks to the classroom wall they learnt all about how sedimentary rocks get laid down.

Can you See the Layers of Sedimentary Rocks?

Can you see the different coloured bands which represent different layers of rock?

Can you see the different coloured bands which represent different layers of rock?

Picture Credit: Montana State University/Everything Dinosaur

The picture above shows a view of the amazing Judith River Formation which can be found in Montana (north-western United States).  These rocks were laid down in layers towards the end of “Age of Dinosaurs”, near to the end of the Cretaceous Period.  The dinosaur fossils we find in these rocks are approximately 79-75 million years old.  Duck-billed dinosaurs and horned dinosaur fossils can be found (herbivores).  There are also fossils of the meat-eating dinosaurs (carnivores) but these are much less common then the plant-eaters.  Can Year 3 work out why?

We can also find fossils of salamanders, bony fish, lizards and several types of crocodiles, although none of these crocodiles are closely related to the crocodiles alive today.

Dinosaurs and Maths

As part of our workshop and in order to support a number of mathematical themed extension exercises, we looked at how big the teeth of Tyrannosaurus rex really are.  One of the “pinkie palaeontologist” challenges we set the class was whether or not the children could use the special “greater than” and “less than” symbols we sent over to make a table listing items in the classroom that were bigger or small than the T. rex tooth they saw.  Could the children think of a way to present their data?

Benjamin’s favourite dinosaur was Velociraptor, he and some of his chums were shown an unusual way to measure a dinosaur.  Once this relatively small dinosaur had been measured we set the class another challenge that involved them trying to measure a much larger, carnivorous dinosaur.  Let’s hope they can master their eight times table, as this would certainly help!

Dinosaur Models Made by the Children

Model dinosaurs on display at Broadoak Primary School.

Model dinosaurs on display at Broadoak Primary School.

Picture Credit: Broadway Primary School

On the classroom walls there was lots of excellent evidence of independent learning, the books at the back of the classroom had inspired the young researchers.  There were also a number of wonderful dinosaur models on display.   The Year 3 class had produced some excellent dinosaur replicas and we loved the “Thomasaurus”.

Dinosaurs and Literacy

In collaboration with Miss Heaton (class teacher), we were able to advise on further extension resources, focusing on literacy.  Different types of writing activities were proposed (non-fiction and fiction) and we challenged the children to use some of the resources that we had provided to write statements about prehistoric animals and also to think up some questions to pose for us.  We know Ethan and Emma have questions, we suggested that they save them in their heads and then include them in a thank you letter that they could compose and send to the Everything Dinosaur offices.

We look forward to seeing some of the results of the children’s research as they study rocks, fossils and dinosaurs.

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