All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
/Educational Activities

Everything Dinosaur’s work with schools and other educational bodies. Articles, features and stories about dinosaurs and their role in education and educating young people.

23 05, 2017

Dinosaurs of China Coming to Nottingham

By | May 23rd, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Educational Activities, Main Page, Teaching|0 Comments

Major Feathered Dinosaur Exhibition Coming to Nottingham

The idea that dinosaurs are not extinct might ruffle a few feathers.  However, the Dinosauria essentially consists of two parts, avian dinosaurs (birds) and non-avian dinosaurs, iconic prehistoric animals such as Tyrannosaurus rex, Stegosaurus and Triceratops. It is the bird lineage, that is very much still with us today.  No need to get into a flap if this statement confuses, a major dinosaur exhibition starting this summer will provide all the answers.

Dinosaurs of China Exhibition Coming to Nottinghamshire

Sinornithosaurus

One of the stars of the “Dinosaurs of China” exhibition – Sinornithosaurus.

Picture Credit: Zhao Chuang

A Once-in-a-Lifetime Event

Opening its doors on the 1st of July, the “Dinosaurs of China – Ground Shakers to Feathered Flyers” exhibition will tell the story of how one group of dinosaurs evolved into birds and you can expect to meet an incredible cast of characters on the way.  Located at two venues, (Wollaton Hall and the Nottingham Lakeside Arts Centre), this family-friendly dinosaur exhibition provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to view amazing fossils and skeletons that have never been outside of Asia before.

For further information and ticket details: Dinosaurs of China Website

Ground Shakers

Highlights of the exhibition will include an enormous, rearing long-necked dinosaur Mamenchisaurus that looks down at you from a head height of thirteen metres, that’s twice as high as a giraffe!  If the mighty double-decker-bus-sized Mamenchisaurus doesn’t get your young dinosaur fans roaring with excitement then look out for Sinraptor, a vicious carnivorous dinosaur that once roamed China some 160 million years ago. With a skull almost a metre in length and a set of powerful jaws lined with serrated teeth, Sinraptor was a formidable predator, one that could probably run faster than you!  Had you been around in the Late Jurassic and been unfortunate to meet this hypercarnivore, Sinraptor would very probably have viewed you as potential prey and tried to eat you.

The Fearsome Sinraptor (S. dongi)

Dinosaur - Sinraptor dongi.

Large Late Jurassic predator Sinraptor dongi.

If you like meat-eating dinosaurs, take time out to visit the bizarre double-crested Dilophosaurus on display at the Nottingham Lakeside Arts Centre and whilst there, sign up for one of the exciting dinosaur themed activities, all aimed at educating and inspiring the next generation of young palaeontologists.  A comprehensive programme of prehistoric animal arts, crafts, fossil exploration, workshops and story-telling has been designed to run in conjunction with the exhibition.  Booking early is recommended to avoid disappointment.

Running from 1st July through the summer holidays and ending on the 29th October, the “Dinosaurs of China” exhibition provides a rare opportunity to get up close to some of the most astonishing and scientifically important fossil discoveries ever made.

Feathered Flyers

Telling the story of how dinosaurs evolved into birds, the carefully crafted exhibition will entertain, inform and enthral, with visitors getting the chance to meet a dinosaur ensemble including several bizarre members of the Dinosauria.  Take the buck-toothed Epidexipteryx (pronounced epi-decks-ip-ter-icks) for example, a dinosaur that may have lived like a squirrel and winkled grubs out of tree holes like an aye-aye.

Dinosaurs Don’t Get Much Stranger than Epidexipteryx

The dinosaur called Epidexipteryx hui.

Epidexipteryx hui

Picture Credit: Zhao Chuang, Xing Lida/Nature

For further information about this exciting dinosaur exhibition coming to the UK this summer: Visit the Dinosaurs of China Exhibition Website

12 05, 2017

Popular Palaeontologist to Present at Prestigious Science Festival

By | May 12th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Educational Activities, Main Page, Teaching|0 Comments

Dean Lomax Presenting at Cheltenham Science Festival

Award winning palaeontologist Dean Lomax, an honorary scientist at Manchester University, will be presenting at next month’s prestigious Cheltenham Science Festival.  In what is likely to be one of the highlights of the annual event, Dean will be focusing on British dinosaurs and speaking about some of his research into the Ichthyosauria.

“Jurassic Britain” with Dean Lomax at the Cheltenham Science Festival 2017

Dean Lomax (palaeontologist) studies Ichthyosaur fossils.

Palaeontologist Dean Lomax with one of the Ichthyosaur specimens from a recent scientific study (Ichthyosaurus larkini).

Picture Credit: University of Manchester

The event, titled “Jurassic Britain” is scheduled to take place on Sunday June 11th at 5pm and further details can be found here: “Jurassic Britain” Information and Ticket Booking

A Fossil Detective Exploring Deep Time

Dean will expertly guide the audience through the myriad of amazing dinosaur fossil discoveries that sparked the original “dinomania” in Georgian and Victorian times.  From members of the Tyrannosaur family that once stalked Gloucestershire, Yorkshire Sauropods to huge Iguanodonts and armoured monsters that once roamed the Isle of Wight, often referred to as the “dinosaur capital of Europe”, the Doncaster-based scientist will demonstrate the importance of the British Isles when it comes to vertebrate palaeontology.

Dean explained:

“I’m looking forward to sharing with the public the incredible story of British dinosaurs.  When you hear the word dinosaur, most people think about dinosaurs from faraway lands, but it all started right here in Britain and I am going to introduce the public to some of the more incredible finds.”

Dean Lomax and Fellow Researcher Judy Massare Studying “Fish Lizards”

Dean Lomax and Judy Massare examining Ichthyosaur specimens.

Dean Lomax and Judy Massare examining Ichthyosaur specimens in the marine reptile gallery at the Natural History Museum (London).

Picture Credit: Dean Lomax

“Jurassic Britain” – Dinosaurs and Ichthyosaurs

Before the first dinosaur had been scientifically described, Georgian society was rocked by the discovery of the fossilised remains of bizarre sea creatures.  These fossil finds, such as those made by Mary Anning on the Dorset coast, helped shape the academic approach to the nascent sciences of geology and palaeontology.  In his hour-long lecture, Dean will also provide an insight into some of the latest research on one enigmatic group of marine reptiles – the Ichthyosaurs.

Dean added:

“The second part of my talk will focus on my continuing research into British Ichthyosaurs.  I’ve been researching these incredible marine reptiles for around eight years and in that time, some astonishing new species have been described.  If you like hearing about how fossils have been rediscovered and identified as something new to science then you should come along!”

Monster Marine Reptiles from Somerset (I. somersetensis)

Ichthyosaurus somersetensis holotype.

ANSP 15766, holotype specimen of Ichthyosaurus somersetensis.

Picture Credit: E. Daeschler Academy of Sciences of Drexel University.

The venue, for what no doubt will be a highly informative and illuminating presentation, is the impressive Crucible building, next to Cheltenham Town Hall, in the centre of this picturesque Gloucestershire town, that just happens to be not too far away from where distant relatives of Tyrannosaurus rex once stalked their prey.

“Jurassic Britain” – Sunday 11th June 2017 5pm to 6pm tickets £7 plus booking fee.

Eagle-eyed visitors may even be able to spot some Jurassic marine fossils for themselves.  Many of the town’s municipal buildings are constructed from Cotswold building stone.  These are limestones (Middle Jurassic), that were laid down in a marine environment and a number of small fossil shells and their casts can still be seen in the stonework.  How exciting to have one of the UK’s leading young palaeontologists discussing dinosaurs and marine reptiles in such an appropriate location!

For general information on the Cheltenham Science Festival, which runs from Tuesday 6th until Sunday June 11th: Cheltenham Science Festival 2017

“Dinosaurs of the British Isles”

For a general introduction to British dinosaurs, Everything Dinosaur recommends “Dinosaurs of the British Isles” written by Dean Lomax and Nobumichi Tamura.  This book provides a comprehensive account of the dinosaur discoveries from Britain and is aimed at the general reader as well as students and academics.

For further information about “Dinosaurs of the British Isles” and to purchase: Visit Siri Scientific Press

7 05, 2017

Imaginative Dinosaurs

By | May 7th, 2017|Educational Activities, Main Page, Teaching|0 Comments

Children Draw Long-necked Dinosaurs

Time to catch up on our correspondence and to pause between dinosaur workshops and other teaching assignments in what has been a busy start to the summer term.  As part of our service to schools, the dinosaur and fossil themed workshops that we deliver often lead to lots of extension activities, all aimed at supporting the curriculum and the school’s scheme of work.  For example, during a session with Key Stage 1 children and a Reception class, a child asked why did the long-necked dinosaurs grow so big?  Our dinosaur expert provided an explanation (large gut for processing lots of coarse vegetation), as well as touching upon a couple of other relevant points.  This led on to a discussion as to what was the biggest dinosaur of all?  An opportunity to discuss the Titanosauriformes, (simplified language that is age appropriate, of course), even ones that have yet to be officially named and scientifically described.

A Typical Titanosauriform – Saltasaurus

Saltasaurus dinosaur model

“Reptile from Salta Province” – Saltasaurus

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A Dinosaur Themed Extension Activity

We made a note of the questions that were asked and once the dinosaur and fossil workshops had concluded for the morning, we discussed with the class teachers ways in which we could develop extension activities that relate to the topics raised by the children.  For example, we sent the children a link to an article that featured an as yet, undescribed dinosaur from Argentina that is believed to represent the biggest dinosaur known to science.  Could the children come up with a name for this dinosaur discovery?  We explained to the class teacher how this idea could be developed into a recording of data exercise whereby the class vote for their favourite dinosaur name and calibrate their results using a simple graph or table.

Using Dinosaurs to Explore How to Record and Show Data

Dinosaurs inspire graphs and data representation in schools.

Plotting dinosaur data in class.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

An article on the largest dinosaur known to science: Biggest Dinosaur Needs a Name

Cross Curricular Activities

As well as supporting the numeracy element of the curriculum, our dinosaur expert set the children some “pinkie palaeontologist challenges” as we call them.  Extension ideas that involve both fiction and non-fiction writing and provide an opportunity to compare our bodies to that of a dinosaur.  A simple drawing activity involving drawing an enormous long-necked dinosaur provides a touchstone to expressive arts and design, involving children exploring and playing using a wide range of media and materials.  Encouraging young learners to share their thoughts, ideas and feelings through a variety of art themed activities.

Reception-Age Children Draw a Long-necked Dinosaur (Sauropodomorpha)

Reception child draws a Sauropod.

Long-necked dinosaur by a Reception-aged child.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To request further information about Everything Dinosaur’s activities in schools including dinosaur and fossil themed workshops: Contact Everything Dinosaur – School Workshops

We encourage the class teachers to take lots of photographs during our dinosaur and fossil themed workshops.  These are great for recall and recounting activities after the session and the teaching team (with permission of the school), can always post some up onto social media such as Twitter, so parents and guardians can see what the class have been doing that day.

6 05, 2017

New Children’s Dinosaur Book “Thomas T. rex”

By | May 6th, 2017|Book Reviews, Educational Activities, Main Page|0 Comments

Mum Inspired to Write Dinosaur Story Books

Nicole Mills has a background in publishing, so when she took an interest in her son’s dinosaur obsession, photographing him with his various prehistoric animal models and toys, her mind began to wonder how she could help other children share his fascination for these long extinct creatures.  Mum and son’s imaginations were certainly sparked, whilst Henry made up stories about his dinosaurs, Nicole decided to turn these into a series of dinosaur themed story books, aimed at young readers.

Nicole Mills and Son Henry

Dino-Mom and Dino-Boy

Nicole with Henry (dinosaur toys).

Picture Credit: Lavide (Phoenix)

Ideas can come from all kinds of places, you never quite know when inspiration will strike.  When Henry told his mum that he needed a detective to solve a dinosaur mystery, the idea of publishing a series of dinosaur detective story books was born.

“Dinosaur Detective: Thomas T. rex and the Case of the Angry Ankylosaurus”, is the first title, in which detective “Thomas the T. rex” attempts to solve the riddle of some disappearing ferns by following a set of clues including some dinosaur footprints.  The press release provided with the inspection copy that was sent to Everything Dinosaur, states that children will be exposed to valuable life skills such as problem solving and the power of emotions, whilst the humour within the simple text will keep adult readers entertained.

Reading Together

Studies have shown that if parents enjoy reading and have a house filled with lots of books, then their children are more likely to become avid readers too.  Immersing children in literacy activities at an early age can help them gain confidence with their own reading and writing.  Exposure to books, with parents taking time to read to their offspring will help the child develop a bigger vocabulary and assist with spelling.  The large font and the adoption of a simple rhyming motif make the words in this story book very accessible for young children, although parents and guardians on this side of the Atlantic might struggle with the American spelling, “armor” and “favorite” being cases in point.

Creative, Imaginative Play can Help Children Prepare for Formal Education

Tyrannosaurus rex model and a young dinosaur fan.

T. rex model and a young dinosaur fan.

Picture Credit: Schleich

“Dinosaur Detective: Thomas T. rex and the Case of the Angry Ankylosaurus” is the debut book in this series, the author hopes to publish one book for each letter of the alphabet, after all, enough dinosaurs have been named and described to easily fill an alphabetical list.  The tone and text of this book accommodates aspects of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), elements of the English national curriculum.  For example, within the statutory framework of the English national curriculum, literacy is a priority, with children being encouraged to link sounds and letters and to commence reading and writing independently.  The framework stipulates that children should be given access to a wide range of reading materials including poems to help ignite their interest.

Actual Dinosaur Models Feature in the Stories

Observant children will be able to recognise several of their dinosaur and prehistoric animal toys within the book.  For example, illustrations of the eponymous hero “Thomas the T. rex” suggests to us that the Papo brown standing T. rex dinosaur figure plays the detective role in Henry’s imaginative tales.  Using familiar models will help young readers to buy into the story, they can even recreate some of the story lines themselves (as well as inventing a few new ones).

The Papo Standing Tyrannosaurus rex Model (Brown)

Papo T.r ex figures.

The Papo brown T. rex figure with the Papo baby Tyrannosaurus rex.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Available from Archway Publishing Online Bookstore: “Dinosaur Detective – Thomas T. rex and the Case of the Angry Ankylosaurus”

ISBN: 978-1-4808-3766-9 (soft cover) or hardback version 978-1-4808-3767-6 and in addition, a downloadable E-book is available.

Author, Nicole commented:

“It’s important for children and parents to read, play and discover together, so what better way to do it than with dinosaurs?  Through Henry’s obsession with dinosaurs, he has not only learned an encyclopaedic wealth of information, but I have too.”

We wish mum and son the very best of luck and we hope that “Thomas the T.rex” is able to crack all his cases.

22 04, 2017

The Tactile Nature of a Schleich Brachiosaurus

By | April 22nd, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Educational Activities, Main Page, Teaching|0 Comments

The Schleich Brachiosaurus and Creative Play

The recently introduced Schleich Brachiosaurus dinosaur model is proving to be a big hit amongst teachers and teaching assistants who work with Foundation Stage children and those children in Year 1.  The model, which measures around thirty-two centimetres in length and stands a fraction under twenty centimetres high is an ideal size for little hands to handle and the dinosaur is sturdy enough to withstand the attentions of even the most enthusiastic, budding palaeontologist during creative play.

The Schleich Brachiosaurus Dinosaur Model

Schleich Brachiosaurus dinosaur model.

The Schleich Brachiosaurus dinosaur model (2017).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Suitable Dinosaur Models for Early Years Foundation Stage 

Children in Foundation Stage (Nursery and Reception) will be mostly learning through games and creative play activities, although in Reception classes (Foundation Stage 2), by the beginning of the summer term, many schools will be introducing more structured learning routines to help prepare the children for the greater emphasis on cognitive abilities which comes with Year 1.  One of the key areas of learning is to help children to develop language and communication skills, as well as learning about the properties of materials (understanding the world).  The Schleich Brachiosaurus model has a roughened texture over part of the dinosaur’s body.  Other areas are smooth, as a result, the figure is ideal for exploring how different objects feel.

The Beautiful Texture on the Schleich Brachiosaurus

The texture on the neck and shoulders of the Schleich Brachiosaurus dinosaur model.

The beautiful texture of the Schleich Brachiosaurus is ideal for creative play.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Looking at the Properties of Different Materials

Dinosaur toys and models are a source of fascination for both young boys and girls.  Team members at Everything Dinosaur use an assortment of dinosaur models and figures in their outreach work with children, particularly those children in Year 1 and Foundation Stage.  The tactile, kinaesthetic quality of the Schleich Brachiosaurus dinosaur makes it ideal, as the children feel the model’s rough scales and smooth skin.  We also use this Schleich dinosaur model to help children learn and remember the names for different parts of the body and to compare our bodies to that of a dinosaur.

Can You See His Eyes?  How Many Eyes Does the Dinosaur Have?

The Schleich Brachiosaurus dinosaur model.

The tactile quality of a Schleich Brachiosaurus dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Schleich model is ideal for exploring parts of the body with young children at Foundation Stage and Year 1.  Can they point to the teeth?  Where’s the dinosaur’s tongue?  Can you count the dinosaur’s toes?

To view the range of Schleich prehistoric animal models including the robust, sturdy Schleich Brachiosaurus figure: Schleich Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animal Models

The Schleich Brachiosaurus dinosaur model has a very tactile nature, a result of the carefully moulded scales on various parts of the body.  It is a robust and sturdy dinosaur model, ideal for use when working with EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage).

28 03, 2017

EYFS Become Palaeontologists for a Morning

By | March 28th, 2017|Educational Activities, Main Page, Teaching|0 Comments

Foundation Stage Children Study Dinosaurs

Another busy day for the team members at Everything Dinosaur.  Children in the Foundation Stage classes (Nursery and Reception), at Saint Thomas C of E Primary have been learning all about dinosaurs and fossils.  Everything Dinosaur was invited into the school to work with the two classes over the course of the morning.  This well-appointed school conducts lots of outreach activities with its pupils, the children certainly get the opportunity to experience a wide variety of curriculum related activities.  The hall had been set aside for our visit, after all, some fossils can be quite big, or even “massive” as pointed out by a child in Nursery when we looked at the best way to describe fossils.

Using a Big Space for all the Big Fossils we Brought

The hall is closed for dinosaurs and fossils.

Dinosaurs and fossils in the school hall.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The morning assembly was cancelled, this allowed us to have more time working with the Foundation Stage children.  The Nursery class went first and they, very enthusiastically, mimicked the survival skills of armoured dinosaurs.  The children “froze like statues” when Tyrannosaurus rex came into their forest.  Prior to the workshop, we had checked with the teaching team so that we could deliver sessions that supported the scheme of work and learning objectives.  We were informed that one pupil loved looking at smooth objects, so we ensured that some polished fossils, including sectioned ammonites were incorporated into the tactile workshops.

The Reception Class has a Cave for a Fossil Display

We are palaeontologists!

We are palaeontologists (display area in school).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The light, airy and tidy Reception classroom had lots of space for dinosaur themed displays.  We especially liked the “cave” in the corner that the dedicated teaching team had created for the budding palaeontologists to practice their phonics and to display their fossil finds.

Dinosaur Themed Extension Activities for Foundation Stage

Having been advised that the Reception class were going to be learning about the famous fossil hunter Mary Anning, we made sure to provide some suitable extension resources featuring this pioneering Georgian woman.  We also challenged the class to draw their very own dinosaur, could they label the body parts including the skull?  This simple exercise is a great way to reinforce learning when it comes to parts of the body and the differences between ourselves and other animals.  A “dinosaur hokey cokey” that we had prepared was also handed over, a chance to help the children with their motor skills and to tie in drama and music/movement activities into the dinosaurs and fossils term topic.

After the conclusion of our morning’s work, the Foundation Stage Two teacher emailed to say:

“Thank you ever so much for the workshop with Reception and Nursery.  The children were highly engaged throughout the sessions and did not stop talking about all the things they learnt throughout the day.  The resources and delivery of the session were brilliant and enabled the children to stay focused and handle lots of interesting objects.  Also, the resources provided for the teachers will be a great way to supplement the topic after the workshop so the children can continue their learning.”

To request more information about Everything Dinosaur’s work in schools: Contact Everything Dinosaur

13 03, 2017

A Purple Woolly Mammoth Inspires Dexter and His Classmates

By | March 13th, 2017|Adobe CS5, Educational Activities, Main Page, Teaching|0 Comments

Whirley Primary School Reception Children Study Dinosaurs

Children in the Reception class at Whirley Primary School have been studying dinosaurs and learning about fossils this half term.  Under the expert guidance of their teachers, the children have been looking at different types of dinosaur and working out which ones ate meat and which ones ate plants.  Tyrannosaurus rex is certainly a big favourite amongst the enthusiastic, young palaeontologists and the pupils enjoyed learning lots of new facts about T. rex during a dinosaur themed workshop.  For many schools, this week is “Science Week” and it was great to see the Foundation Stage children joining in and using their big brains (which are twenty times the size of an armoured dinosaur’s brain), to remember where they had been sitting.

Working in the hall, our dinosaur expert was surrounded by wonderful art displays created by the schoolchildren, including some wonderful illustrations of erupting volcanoes by Mr Jackson’s Year 3 class.  Our dinosaur expert felt very much at home surrounded by such colourful drawings.

Year 3 Have Been Study Rocks Including How Igneous Rock is Formed

Volcano drawings by Year 3.

Drawings of volcanoes.

Picture Credit: Whirley Primary School/Everything Dinosaur

A Purple Woolly Mammoth

Some of the Reception children found a purple Woolly Mammoth model in their classroom.  The teacher explained that dinosaurs lived a long time ago, millions of years before Woolly Mammoths and people.  Young Dexter was so intrigued to hear about Woolly Mammoths that he was inspired to draw a Woolly Mammoth for himself.

Foundation Stage Children Draw a Woolly Mammoth

A Foundation Stage pupil draws a Mammoth.

A child in Reception class draws a Woolly Mammoth.

Picture Credit: Whirley Primary School/Dexter/Everything Dinosaur

That’s a great drawing, Dexter’s teacher was very proud as he had written the words “Woolly Mammoth” and “tusks” on his illustration.  Well done Dexter!

Reception Children Write on their Prehistoric Animal Drawings

Labelling a Woolly Mammoth.

Helping young children become more confident with their writing.

Picture Credit: Whirley Primary School/Dexter/Everything Dinosaur

We set the children an extension activity.  In return for some dinosaur stickers, could the children have a go at drawing their very own dinosaur?  Could they label its body parts including the skull?  We hope the picture of a purple coloured Woolly Mammoth helps to inspire the children with their prehistoric animal designs.

A Purple Woolly Mammoth Drawing for the Reception Children at Whirley Primary School

A purple Woolly Mammoth.

A purple coloured Woolly Mammoth for Reception class.

Picture Credit: Whirley Primary School/Dexter/Everything Dinosaur

Can the children label the purple Woolly Mammoth’s body parts?  Can they label the skull?

All to soon the morning had come to an end and it was time to pack up so that the lunchtime supervisors could set up the tables ready for the school dinners.  Not to worry, we provided an assortment of teaching materials and other resources to the enthusiastic teaching team to help them carry on with this stimulating and challenging Foundation Stage term topic.

12 03, 2017

What Do You Know About Dinosaurs?

By | March 12th, 2017|Educational Activities, Main Page, Teaching|0 Comments

What Do You Know About Dinosaurs?  K-W-L Technique

Children at Clutton Church of England Primary School in Cheshire have had a busy week.  The pupils in the Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1 have been learning all about dinosaurs and life in the past and on Friday, one of our dinosaur experts visited the school to work with the enthusiastic children for a morning.   Before our dinosaur workshop commenced, the Everything Dinosaur team member had the opportunity to examine some of the children’s work including mind maps created by the teacher to help the teaching team develop an appropriate scheme of work for the mixed age group class.

What Do You Know About Dinosaurs?

The KWL technique helps teachers understand subject pre-knowledge.

Using the KWL technique to start a term topic all about dinosaurs.

Picture Credit: Clutton C of E Primary School/Everything Dinosaur

What is the K-W-L Technique?

The mind maps formed part of the teacher’s planning for the topic.  She was utilising a technique called the K-W-L.  The K-W-L concept aids teachers and helps them to plan a topic and to check understanding.  It consists of three phases, firstly, the children brainstorm and say what they think they know about dinosaurs and prehistoric animals.  During the brainstorming session, the children will make statements and assertions that provide the teacher with details as to what the children would like to find out about prehistoric animals.  The third phase, which is conducted at the end of the period of teaching, highlights what the children have learned at the end of their studies.  This third phase permits the teaching team to check understanding and gives them the opportunity to reinforce leaning if required.

The Three Phases of the K-W-L Technique

  • What do you know about a subject area?
  • What would you like to learn about a subject?
  • What have we learned about a subject at the end of the topic?

The Second Phase – What Would We Like to Learn About Dinosaurs?

KWL - technique used in schools (dinosaur term topic).

What do you want to know about dinosaurs?

Picture Credit: Clutton C of E Primary School/Everything Dinosaur

Helping to Guide Lesson Planning

When the children in Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1 were asked to consider what they already knew about dinosaurs they demonstrated considerable pre-knowledge.  For example, the children knew what the term predator meant and they could explain a little bit about the extinction of the dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous period.

The teaching team were able to gain valuable insights into gaps in the children’s understanding of the wider world when the second mind map was created.  For instance, Olivia wanted to know if dinosaurs killed people, whilst Josh asked how did the dinosaurs eat things?  These two questions could guide the teaching team and provide a stimulus for the scheme of work.  Perhaps, a timeline could be created explaining just how long ago the dinosaurs lived.  The children could look at the teeth of dinosaurs in books and compare these teeth to the teeth of animals alive today and try and work out which dinosaurs were herbivores and which ones were carnivores.

The K-W-L technique provides a useful planning aid for teachers and teaching assistants.

 To see how schematic story maps can help children learn: Schematic Story Maps Help Children to Remember Facts

For information on Everything Dinosaur’s dinosaur workshops in schools: Contact Everything Dinosaur Request Information

6 03, 2017

Abbey Hey Primary Pupils Imagine Prehistoric Animals

By | March 6th, 2017|Educational Activities, Main Page, Teaching|0 Comments

Year 1 Design Dinosaurs

Last month, a member of the Everything Dinosaur team visited Abbey Hey Primary Academy to work with the Year 1 classes as they studied dinosaurs and fossils.  During our dinosaur and prehistoric animal themed workshop, we challenged the eager, junior palaeontologists to have a go at designing their very own dinosaur.  The dedicated teachers kindly sent us a set of the children’s drawings and dinosaur designs and what a wonderful display they make.

Year 1 Children at Abbey Hey Primary Academy Design Dinosaurs

Amazing imaginary dinosaur drawings from Year 1,

Year 1 produced some amazing imaginary dinosaur drawings.

Picture Credit: Year 1 (Abbey Hey Primary Academy)

We laid out all the colourful dinosaur designs on the floor of our warehouse.  Once we had carefully sorted them and laid them out we took a photograph (see above).  We can’t wait to pin them all up onto our warehouse notice board.

Thinking of a Name for Your Dinosaur

As part of a series of carefully thought out extension activities, our dinosaur expert challenged the children to label their dinosaur’s body parts.  Once they had done this, could they think of a suitable name for their prehistoric animal?  We received lots of lovely examples, with some super labelling, well done Year 1!  The names the children came up with were very imaginative also, we loved Madison’s purple “Maddisonodon” (see below) for example.

A Very Purple Dinosaur by Madison

A purple dinosaur with a long neck.

A long-necked, purple dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Madison in Year 1 at Abbey Hey Primary Academy

In addition, we had a long-necked dinosaur called “Indiaraptor“, spiky dinosaurs, and a scary looking “Levirex“, what super prehistoric animal names!

Flying reptiles were also included in the extension activity and we received some very colourful pictures of Pterosaurs (flying reptiles), all with lovely labelling.

A Very Carefully Drawn and Labelled Flying Reptile

Children create imaginary prehistoric animals.

A “Tabita-dactyl” – wonderful prehistoric animal drawings from Year 1.

Picture Credit: Year 1 Abbey Hey Primary Academy

The teacher who kindly sent in the pictures included a note:

“We hope you like our lovely imaginary dinosaurs all with unique names”.

We certainly did and the drawings have been put up on display in our warehouse.  Our thanks to all the children in Year 1 and their teachers at Abbey Hey Primary Academy.

 

16 02, 2017

Helping to Organise a School Trip to Wren’s Nest

By | February 16th, 2017|Educational Activities, Geology, Main Page, Teaching|0 Comments

Wren’s Nest and School Trips

Everything Dinosaur has been contacted by a school based in the West Midlands, seeking advice about a trip to the famous Wren’s Nest National Nature Reserve, a place we know very well indeed!  This location is a popular destination for local schools which are studying fossils and rocks as part of the National Curriculum (England).  Wren’s Nest is to the north-east of the town of Dudley and it is a designated SSSI (site of special scientific interest), so no hammering at the cliffs of this former quarry is allowed. However, lots of fossils are being washed out of the scree slopes and there is something like seven hundred different types of fossil to collect, nearly ninety of which are unique to the Wren’s Nest area.

The Famous Ripple Beds at Wren’s Nest

Ripples preserved in limestone.

The famous ripple beds at Wren’s Nest SSSI located in the West Midlands.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The picture above shows the famous “Ripple Bed Hill” at Wren’s Nest.  This near vertical cliff face was once at the bottom of a shallow sea.  The “ripples” are the preserved remains of wave action on the seabed, they are around 426 million years old.  Taking schoolchildren to this location, helps them to gain an appreciation of deep, geological time.

How Did the Ripple Beds Form?

These structures formed as a result of massive, probably seasonal storms that swept across the normally, relatively calm sea.  The huge waves generated by the storm, led to the seabed being disturbed, the waves created by the storm had much more energy and their effect was felt much deeper in the tropical sea than usual.  Sand and debris was picked up and washed backwards and forwards over the seabed, creating the ripples.  The seabed was nearly 100 feet (thirty metres), under water and normally it would have been unaffected by usual sea conditions.  However, the symmetrical ripples are evidence of storm damage to this part of the seabed back in the Late Silurian.

After the storm had passed, the sea would have once again returned to its relatively calm state.  Thirty metres down the seabed was once again protected by the effects of normal-sized waves, which could not penetrate deep enough to wipe away the ridges and ripples caused by the storm.  Crinoids, (sea-lilies) soon colonised this part of the sea floor. However, sometime later, perhaps a few months, or perhaps after several years a large amount of mud was dumped on top of the ripples, permitting their preservation.  The mud could have been deposited as a result of exceptional run-off from the land, or perhaps an earthquake or other seismic event led to a large amount of sediment being shifted.  Whatever, the cause the ripples (and the crinoids living on them), were buried.  Palaeontologists have identified a total of twenty-five ripple bed areas in the cliffs that make up this feature of Wren’s Nest.  Each ripple bed represents a separate storm event.

Fossils Galore to be Found

More than 700 different fossils found at Wren's Nest

Lots of brachiopod and coral fossils to find at Wren’s Nest.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Top Tips for a School Visit to Wren’s Nest

The site represents the remains of an ancient coral ecosystem dating between 423-426 million years ago (mya), it is Silurian in age and more than 700 different types of fossils have been found at this site.  A party of schoolchildren will not collect them all, but they are bound to find plenty of fossils to satisfy curious minds.  However, finding your own Trilobite fossil, a “Dudley Bug” Calymene blumenbachii, is most unlikely but you might find a fragment of the exoskeleton, a piece shed when the animal moulted.

• This is an SSSI (site of special scientific interest), no hammers or tools of any kind are permitted on site. However, you don’t need any tools as the constantly eroding scree provides lots of fossils that can simply be picked up.
• There are no toilet facilities at this location
• A mid-week visit is best, either quite early in the morning or in the afternoon, although, the area tends not to be that busy at most times
• When we visit we park close to the Caves Inn (car parking from 9.30am to 4pm Monday to Friday)
• The slopes are a magnet for young fossil hunters who love to try to climb them (and run up and down them), these slopes are very steep and very slippery after rain, so sensible precautions need to be taken.
• There is a slight risk of rock falls, after all, this is an old quarry site, but in all our visits, we have never seen any evidence of this.
• Contact Wren’s Nest here: Further information about Wren’s Nest. You might even be able to arrange short talk by one of the very knowledgeable wardens.

Typical Scree Slope at Wren’s Nest

Wren's Nest SSSI

A view of Wren’s Nest.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

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