Category: Teaching

Extension Ideas for Key Stage 2

Fossils and How Fossils Form with Everything Dinosaur

Year 3 at Hurst Green Primary have been studying rocks, fossils and dinosaurs in the second half of the autumn term.  3H have even been split into five teams for this topic that explores dinosaurs and life in the past.  The teams are Tyrannosaurus rex, Velociraptors, Sabre-Tooth Tigers, Mastodons, and Pterodactyls.  Our dinosaur and fossil expert, praised the teaching team for their innovative approach to delivering the learning objectives for this topic, however, it was pointed out that there were one or two concerns over the names chosen for the teams.  For example, although “Sabre-Tooth Tiger” is a term in common usage, the cats within the genus Smilodon are not closely related to modern tigers.

The Table Teams in Class 3H

Teams in the classroom learning about dinosaurs.

Teams in the classroom learning about dinosaurs.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur/Hurst Green Primary

We did point out the other errors in the team names and sent over information to help the teacher make the corrections.  In addition, we gave the class one of our “pinkie palaeontologist challenges”!   In collaboration with the teacher, we challenged the children to create a scientific poster of the prehistoric animal that their team name was based on.  We promised to email over some teaching resources all about these prehistoric animals. Could the children create a display all about T. rex, Mastodons, Velociraptors etc.

To set up the task, we explained how scientists display results and data on poster boards.  We asked the children to create scale drawings, diagrams of the animal that their team was named after (with proper labelling of course).  Could they explain what the animal ate, where it lived and how long ago these animals roamed the Earth?

A Teacher Makes Notes About Suggested Extension Ideas for Year 3

A teacher lists the extension ideas during a dinosaur workshop.

A teacher lists the extension ideas during a dinosaur workshop.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur/Hurst Green Primary

The posters would provide an example of a non-chronological report.  This activity would help the children recount what they had learned during the Key Stage 2 dinosaur workshop and it would link nicely in with teaching objectives related to English, Maths, History and Geography elements of the national curriculum.

Our dinosaur expert spent the morning helping Year 3 study dinosaurs and fossils.  With a focus on ICT, could the children’s posters be pinned onto a classroom wall and a picture taken of them?  This photograph could then be emailed to Everything Dinosaur, all part of helping the children to learn about how emails and websites work.

The teacher commented:

“Thank you Everything Dinosaur, an excellent session – informative but fun with loads of hands-on activities for the children (and staff).”

For an explanation about why it is not valid to use the term “Sabre-Tooth Tigers”: How Smilodon Got Stripes

EYFS and Dinosaurs

What was the Biggest Dinosaur?

For the Reception class at St Joseph’s R.C. Primary, the question posed this term was “which was the biggest dinosaur”?  The budding palaeontologists had been busy exploring prehistoric animals aided by their enthusiastic teaching team.  Mrs Crean had helped the children to build a dinosaur museum in the classroom.  Inside the museum, there were lots of examples of words used to describe different types of dinosaur and other animals that lived in the past.  The museum even had a gift shop and a cloakroom, a place for palaeontologists who visit the school to store their hard hats!

EYFS Build a Dinosaur Museum in their Classroom

Come to our dinosaur museum!

Come to our dinosaur museum!

Picture Credit: St Joseph’s R.C. Primary/Everything Dinosaur

The teaching team for the EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage) are following a very creative curriculum and the children were very confident and enjoyed handling the fossils and learning just how big some dinosaurs could be.  The dinosaur workshop enabled the children to experience what it would be like to be an Ankylosaurus moving through the forest, or an Ammonite in its shell bobbing up and down in the sea.  During the teaching session the children were encouraged to use describing words and to explore the properties of materials.  A fossil tooth feels very cold to the touch, some fossils can be small and light, whilst others can be very heavy.  Our thanks to Miss Harrison for helping when it came to carrying the specimens.  Miss Tucker made sure that everyone was given the opportunity to take part and Mrs Barnes helped organise the children into a group photograph to mark Everything Dinosaur’s visit.  Perhaps the photograph will be put up in the museum?

The Dinosaur Term Topic Challenges the Children to Expand Their Vocabulary

Encouraging the use of describing words.

Encouraging the use of describing words.

Picture Credit: St Joseph’s R.C. Primary/Everything Dinosaur

As for what was the biggest dinosaur, our dinosaur expert emailed over some information on the dinosaur that is currently regarded as the biggest scientifically described – Argentinosaurus.

Rocks and Dinosaurs at St Mary’s Catholic Primary School

Year 2 and Year 3 Study Dinosaurs and Fossils

Pupils at St Mary’s Catholic Primary School enjoyed a visit from Everything Dinosaur today.  The visit of a dinosaur and fossil expert was scheduled to take place as Key Stage 1 pupils were starting a topic on dinosaurs and Key Stage 2 classes were beginning a science topic all about rocks, fossils and soils.

The children in Wharfe class (all the classes are named after rivers), had been considering whether a dinosaur would make a good pet.  They had looked at eggs and put up notes on their topic wall about animals that laid eggs.

Identifying Which Animals Lay Eggs

Which animals lay eggs?

Which animals lay eggs?

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The visitor from Everything Dinosaur was able to provide quite a bit of evidence about dinosaurs and their suitability for a pet.  Identifying how much a Triceratops probably ate by looking at the jaws and teeth, convinced most of the children that some of the biggest dinosaurs known would not make good pets.  Under the tutelage of the class teacher Mrs Conroy, the children would be learning about living and non-living things, with a focus on life in the past.  One of the learning objectives for this part of the Autumn term was for the children to consider what living things require in order to survive and flourish.  There was a big emphasis on developing a scientific vocabulary, our dinosaur expert helped the class by assisting them when it came to identifying what some prehistoric animals ate and the terms used to describe these types of prehistoric creatures.

To read more about Everything Dinosaur’s teaching work in schools: Everything Dinosaur School Visits

Year 3 (Swale class), had been learning about different types of rocks and their properties.  Mrs Hunt, the teacher was excited to learn about the local geology and all about the rocks that form Swaledale.  The children loved handling the fossils and taking part in the experiments to demonstrate petrification processes such as permineralisation.  On a table in the classroom, the children had lots of rocks to explore and to learn about.  The eager pupils were keen to show the Everything Dinosaur expert their fossils and he was happy to tell them all about these specimens, the class particularly liked learning about “Devil’s toenails”.

Lots of Rocks for Year 3 to Examine

A very full "rock table".

A very full “rock table”.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Having left each class with one of Everything Dinosaur’s “pinkie palaeontologist challenges”, we shall see how the children get on and we are all excited to hear the results.

A “Brummie-saurus”

Birmingham School Children Learn All About Dinosaurs and Fossils

It was an early start today for an Everything Dinosaur team member as they set off to visit a school in Birmingham (West Midlands), to work with the Year 3 classes who had just started their topic on dinosaurs and fossils.  The focus for the day was to help each class get to grips with working scientifically and to support the intended learning outcomes of the teaching team.  One of the things we had been asked to do was to help explain what the world looked like during the time of the dinosaurs and how the location of land masses has changed.  Time for us to bring in some of our collection of Permian plant fossils, specifically fossils of various Glossopterids to assist us with this aspect of our work.  A map of the world stuck onto the wall of the dance studio where we were based for the day came in very handy.

This is the first time a dinosaurs and fossils topic had been introduced at the lower Key Stage 2 level at this school, however, our sharp-eyed photographer spotted a wonderful paper mache Sauropod that was lurking in a corridor.  Apparently, this dinosaur had been part of a art project a few years ago.  It was certainly a very striking sculpture.

Diplodocus Inspired Artwork on Display at School

A school's very own version of "Dippy".

A school’s very own version of “Dippy”.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur 

We conducted various experiments (hopefully, our experiment with 3PW will demonstrate tomorrow how fossils can form), we were asked some amazing questions by the budding young scientists and we set each class one of our “palaeontologist challenges” as part of the extension activities.

Our dinosaur expert got some lovely feedback from the children.

“I loved learning all about dinosaurs” – AB

“It was fantastic!” – AM

One of the Year 3 teachers told us:

“The children’s reaction to the workshop was fantastic.  They were all engaged and amazed by the facts and the artefacts!”

The dance studio, where we set up for the day, was also the place where a number of volcano models that had been built by children at the school were being stored.  We felt very much at home.

Models of Volcanoes Built by School Children

Geology on display in the dance studio.

Geology on display in the dance studio.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To contact Everything Dinosaur to learn more about our outreach work in schools: Contact Everything Dinosaur for Further Information

As part of the agreed extension activities, we set up a little bit of work for the children which links into their ICT studies this term.  We can’t wait to see the results.  Perhaps these Birmingham based school children will design their very own dinosaur, could we have a “Brummie-saurus” on our hands?

Year 2 Pupils Learn All About Dinosaurs

Dinosaur Workshop at Liverpool Primary School

School children at Anfield Infants School enjoyed a visit from Everything Dinosaur this week, as Year two pupils studied dinosaurs and fossils.  The school children had just started their topic and they had lots of amazing questions about prehistoric animals, which we did our best to answer.  The dedicated teaching team had prepared a comprehensive scheme of work and they had posted up a huge K-W-L chart in each of the Year 2 classrooms (high flyers, bright sparks and whizz kids).

The K-W-L Chart Prepared as Part of the Term Topic

Learning all about dinosaurs and fossils.

Learning all about dinosaurs and fossils.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur/Anfield Infants

The K-W-L concept helps teachers to plan a topic and to check learning.  It consists of three areas, firstly, the children brainstorm and say what they think they know about dinosaurs and fossils.  During the brainstorming session, statements might be identified that provide the teacher with information as to what the children would like to find out about prehistoric animals.  The third area highlights what the children have learned at the end of the topic.  This helps reinforce learning and allows the teacher to check understanding.

The Everything Dinosaur team member, as part of the dinosaur workshop, challenged the classes to carry out some extension activities and promised to follow up any questions that the children emailed into the company as part of uniting this topic with their ICT studies.

Lots of Prehistoric Animal Inspired Artwork on Display Throughout the School

Stegosaurus inspired artwork.

Stegosaurus inspired artwork.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur/Anfield Infants

To read more about Everything Dinosaur’s work in schools and educational activities: Dinosaur Workshops in School

Haverigg Primary School Pupils Study the Stone Age

School Pupils Learn All About Mammoths and Woolly Rhinos

Children in Year 3 at Haverigg Primary School were happy to show our dinosaur expert how much they knew about prehistoric animals.  Under the enthusiastic tutelage of the teaching team the children had been studying different parts of human history beginning with the Stone Age.  We were happy to point out how long ago dinosaurs lived before the likes of the Stone Age came along, a simple demonstration using a clapping exercise was a helpful way of illustrating just how deep geological time can be.  With the assistance of some very knowledgeable Year 3 students we explained how fossils form and what types of rock are likely to contain fossils.  In addition, we helped the children gain an appreciation about what fossils can tell us (and perhaps, as importantly), can’t tell us about animals and plants that lived long ago.

The children had created lots of very well labelled posters.  Each class had been split into teams and given the task of researching and writing about a certain type of prehistoric mammal that might have roamed the land now known as the United Kingdom sometime in the past.

Year 3 Children Research Prehistoric Mammals

All about Ice Age animals.

All about Ice Age animals.

Picture Credit: Haverigg Primary/Everything Dinosaur

In addition, we discussed the important role of Mary Anning and her contribution to the nascent science of palaeontology.  We set each class a couple of challenges as part of planned extension activities agreed with the teaching team.  The Everything Dinosaur team members are looking forward to seeing the results.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“The children loved showing how much they had learned as they studied this topic.  They also enjoyed the fossil workshop immensely and we look forward to hearing how they have progressed with the extension activities we set after teaching about fossils in school.”

School Lesson Plan – How do Fossils Form? (Key Stage 1/2)

Celery Experiment Helping to Demonstrate How Fossils are Formed

With rocks and fossils now part of the National Curriculum for science at Key Stage 2 and with many schools running a term topic focused on dinosaurs as part of their scheme of work with Reception and Year 1, our team members have received lots of requests from teachers to help them explain how fossils are formed.  We do cover this subject area in our dinosaur workshops but here is a simple experiment that the children can conduct that demonstrates an important principle in fossilisation.

The vascular system of plants can be used to suggest how open spaces in a living organism can become filled with minerals that crystallise out of water seeping through the sediment that the remains have been covered by.  The filling up of the pores and open spaces is known as permineralisation.  This process helps to explain how some types of fossil can be formed.  By studying the movement of coloured water in a stalk of celery the children can observe how liquid is moved around a plant.  An experiment such as this demonstrates that plants have spaces inside them, which allow permineralisation (and replacement for that matter), it also leads in very nicely to the work in the English national curriculum about the structure of plants.

National Curriculum Links (England)

  1. Plants (Year 1, 2, 3)
  2. Living Things and their Habitats (Year 2, 4, 5, 6)
  3. Rocks (Year 3)
  4. Animals including Humans (Year 1-6)

Preliminary

Ask the class what are fossils?  Explore ideas about how fossils form.  Stress that fossils can be formed over very long periods of time and some fossils are formed when the spaces inside an animal or plant that has died gets filled with minerals and slowly over time the remains of the plant or animal turn to stone (petrification).  It is this process, that explains in part how fossils are made.

This experiment will permit the children to see that living matter has spaces inside, it is these spaces that can be filled with minerals as part of the fossilisation process.

What You Will Need – Teaching Resources

How Fossils Form (Celery Experiment) Resources

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Resources = plant material (celery recommended), magnifying glass, water, glass, food colouring, chopping utensil, chopping board or surface and a ruler

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Resources = celery stalks, glass or clear plastic beaker, a few drops of food colouring (we found red or blue works best), magnifying glasses, a simple chopping tool, a chopping board, ruler and some tap water.

How Fossils Form – The Experiment (Part 1)

  1. Divide the class up into small groups, provide each group with their own set of resources as outlined above.
  2. Have the children carefully chop the top and bottom of their chosen celery stalk(s), if resources allow have them choose stalks with and without leaves.
  3. Using the magnifying glasses, have each group observe what they can see when they study the stalk ends.  The bottom part of the celery stalk should show very clearly evidence of a vascular system.  Record this information.

Examining and Recording What Can Be Observed

Tubes and other structures can be made out (evidence of a vascular system).

Tubes and other structures can be made out (evidence of a vascular system).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

How Fossils Form – The Experiment (Part 2)

  1. The length of each stalk can be measured (remember to include the length of the leaves on any stalks), these measurements can be recorded.
  2. A quantity of water can then be put into the beaker or glass.  A precise measurement is not needed but it is important to make sure that the bases of all the stalks will be covered.
  3. Carefully, each group puts a couple of drops of the food colouring into the glass or beaker.  Only two to three drops will be needed.  A cap full of food colouring will be sufficient.  The water can be given a quick stir.

Adding the Food Colouring to the Beaker/Glass

Add a couple of drops of food colouring to each beaker/glass.

Add a couple of drops of food colouring to each beaker/glass.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Place the celery to be tested in the beaker/glass, record the time when this was done.

Time to Leave Your Fossil Experiment

Record the time when the celery was placed in the solution.

Record the time when the celery was placed in the solution.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

It may take several hours, but slowly capillary action will permit the coloured water to move up the plant tissues.  This experiment not only highlights the water transportation system in plants (xylem) but also demonstrates that spaces in living organisms have the potential to be filled by minerals such as calcium carbonate or phosphate that are dissolved in water.   This experiment is demonstrating how living things can become filled with minerals dissolved in water which can lead to petrifaction (means turning to stone), the fossilisation process.

How Fossils Form – The Experiment (Part 3)

  1. Examine the celery leaves and stalks after 4 hours (later on in the school day).  What changes can the children see?   Can they record how far the coloured water has travelled?  What differences can be seen between stalks?

Examine the Celery Stalks after about Four Hours

If a camera or Ipad is handy a visual record of the change can be made.

If a camera or Ipad is handy a visual record of the change can be made.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

What differences can the children observe with their fossil formation experiments after a day, two days, a week?  Can the children measure the amount of red colouration they see after each time interval?

After One Day the Fossil Formation Experiment Will Show A Distinctive Colour Change

The food colouring in the water will have been transported up the plant.

The food colouring in the water will have been transported up the plant.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Hard biological materials such as bones, shells and wood contain tiny pores and other spaces (such as the Haversian canals in bones – see close up picture of dinosaur fossil bone provided below).  When buried in sediment, these pores and spaces can be filled up with minerals that crystallise out of the water seeping thorough the layers of sediment.  These extra minerals are permineralising the organism, the start of the process of turning a once living thing into stone has begun.

A Close up View of Fossilised Dinosaur Bone Showing Internal Structure

The internal structure of the dinosaur bone can be seen.

The internal structure of the dinosaur bone can be seen.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The picture above shows the internal structure of a dinosaur tail bone.  Bones just like teeth, shells and even wood contain pores, it is these open spaces that can become permineralised as part of the process of fossilisation.

Extension Ideas

  1. Why was it easier to see the movement of water when the leaves were examined (links to the role of different parts of the plant)?
  2. If the hard parts of organisms like bones and teeth can permineralise and become fossils, what happens to the soft parts such as gums, skin, muscle?
  3. What examples of fossils formed from the soft parts of animals and plants can the children find?  How were these fossils formed?
  4. What other types of fossils can be found?  Think moulds, casts and trace fossils like burrows and footprints.
  5. Record and photograph this experiment and utilise it again when exploring plants, plant transport systems and photosynthesis with older year groups

Extra Notes – Capillary Action

Capillary action, the movement of liquid through tubes takes place because water molecules stay close together (cohesion forces) and because water molecules are attracted to and stick to other substances (adhesion forces).  The adhesion of water to the walls of a narrow vessel such as xylem in a plant stem will cause an upward force on the liquid at the edges where the water and the surface of the tube interact.  This will result in the meniscus turning upward.  Surface tension acts to hold this water at the surface of the tube (the front of the water column) intact.  Capillary action will occur when the adhesion to the walls of the tube is stronger than the cohesive forces between the water molecules.  It is through this capillary action that water is transported around plants.

If you need to speed up the experiment, some change in colouration can be seen after two hours or so, especially if a wilted piece of celery with leaves is chosen.

For information on Everything Dinosaur’s fossil and dinosaur themed workshops in schools: Contact Everything Dinosaur

Year 2 Dinosaur Workshop Extension

St Joseph and St Bede R.C. Primary make Dinosaur Video

Year 2 under the supervision of their enthusiastic teachers made a comic strip and video presentation after a visit by Everything Dinosaur.  Our team members had conducted a dinosaur workshop with the class back in September and as part of a planned extension activity we had pretended to leave a clutch of dinosaur eggs behind for the schoolchildren to discover and then look after.

The children asked if they could look after the eggs and we agreed.  However, disaster has struck, one of the eggs has hatched and a baby dinosaur has escaped.

St Joseph and St Bede Primary School Children Make a Video

Picture Credit: St Joseph and St Bede R.C. Primary School

We think the baby dinosaur is going to be all right.  It was spotted on the school’s CCTV climbing out of a window and heading off out of the school gates to start a “dinosaur adventure”.  We provide lots of extension activities and support to schools when we conduct dinosaur and fossil workshops in schools.  One of the suggestions we have made, is for the dinosaur to be pictured (photoshop comes in very handy), at a number of famous landmarks.  The “Cretaceous critter” can then send the class postcards and emails all about where it has been and what it has done.  The children can plot the dinosaur’s travels on a map (great for helping with geography lessons).  They can also write back to the dinosaur, which in itself is a great lesson plan for a creative writing session.

Where has our Baby Dinosaur Got To?

Dinosaur adventure!

Dinosaur adventure!

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Congratulations to the school children and the teaching team for making such a super video.

Feedback from Foundation Class

Five Stars for Everything Dinosaur (sort of)

At Everything Dinosaur we encourage teachers to provide our team members with feedback over our visits to schools to teach about dinosaurs.  We conduct dinosaur and fossil workshops from children within the EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stages) right up to students at Key Stage 4.  We are keen to develop our work in schools and museums and we are very grateful for all the feedback that we receive.  Whilst it would be great if teachers could leave feedback and comments on our dedicated teaching website, we do have a section dedicated to this, we do appreciate that sometimes teaching professionals find themselves so busy that this is not always possible.

To view Everything Dinosaur’s dedicated teaching website: Dinosaurs and Fossils Teaching Website

To help overcome this we always carry feedback forms with us when we visit schools, colleges and other institutions.  Being able to provide instant feedback is a great benefit to the teachers, teaching assistants and learning support team members that we work with.

Following our visit to Kensington Primary School to work with Foundation Stage children, we got lots of very positive feedback from the teaching team.  This feedback has already been posted up on our dedicated teaching website, but we thought it would be helpful if we posted up one of the forms from a class teacher here.

Foundation Stage Teacher Praises Everything Dinosaur

5 Stars for Everything Dinosaur.

5 Stars for Everything Dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Kensington Primary School

 We note that our “star rating” system was perhaps a little confusing but the comments are greatly appreciated.

The Foundation Stage teacher commented:

“Excellent resources and modelling of different vocabulary, especially focusing on opposites eg. hard/soft.  Children remained engaged throughout and loved touching the objects.  They were the focus of a lot of discussion throughout the rest of the day.”

Our dinosaur expert talked through a couple of extension activities with the teaching team and we look forward to hearing how the term topic develops.

Year 1 Explore Dinosaurs

Exploring Dinosaurs and Learning How to Eat Like a Diplodocus

Another busy day yesterday for Everything Dinosaur with a visit to Altrincham Preparatory School to work with Year 1.  The children, under the enthusiastic tutelage of their teachers Mrs Bacon and Mrs Eyley had been studying dinosaurs and fossils and a visit from our dinosaur expert helped to reinforce learning.  One of the pupils in the class heralds from Canada, so it was apt to explore the rib bones of an Edmontosaurus (named after the capital of the Canadian province of Alberta).  One of the children in 1E was born in Argentina, so we promised to send out some information on Argentinosaurus, a huge Titanosaur, as part of the extension resources.

The children had been busy writing about Diplodocus and our expert was able to see some of the excellent examples of hand-writing, vocabulary use and sentence construction that was on display.

Year 1 Pupils Write About Diplodocus

A "What I am" writing exercise with Diplodocus.

A “what I am?” writing exercise with Diplodocus.

Picture Credit: Altrincham Preparatory School/Everything Dinosaur

As part of the experiments we conducted, we showed how Sauropod dinosaurs like Diplodocus fed and then we looked at some fossilised plants and compared them to living ferns.

To read more about Everything Dinosaur’s school visit: Dinosaurs Prove to be a Roaring Success for Year 1

There was also some wonderful artwork on display in the classrooms of 1B and 1E, the children were keen to demonstrate their knowledge and one young dinosaur fan even brought in a model of a Baryonyx.

Piecing Together a Carnivorous Dinosaur

Meat-eating dinosaurs inspire artwork.

Meat-eating dinosaurs inspire artwork.

Picture Credit: Altrincham Preparatory School/Everything Dinosaur

The children and the teaching team really enjoyed the morning and it was great to see so many dinosaur themed examples of work posted up around the classrooms.  We even met one little boy called Owen, so we sent over some information on the anatomist Sir Richard Owen who was responsible for naming the group of animals we know as the Dinosauria.

To read more about Everything Dinosaur’s work in schools: Dinosaur Workshops for Schools

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