Category: Teaching

Year 2/3 Send in Thank You Letters

Year 2/3AP Say Thank You

Back on the 18th November, one of our team members visited Pebble Brook Primary in Cheshire to undertake a series of dinosaur and fossil themed workshops with three classes.  We challenged Miss Pestell’s class to write to our offices and send us thank you letters. We wanted to see lots of careful hand-writing with sentences starting with capital letters and proper use of punctuation.  Sure enough, yesterday afternoon the postman arrived and handed over a big red envelope which when opened, was found to contain lots of lovely letters from the children.

What a Lovely Set of Thank You Letters from 2/3AP

Thank you letters sent to Everything Dinosaur

Year 2/3AP sent in thank you letters to Everything Dinosaur after our fossil workshop.

Picture Credit: Year 2/3AP (Pebble Brook Primary) Everything Dinosaur

Drawings of Dinosaurs

During our dinosaur workshop, we asked the eager, young palaeontologists to imagine designing their very own dinosaur.  The children chose to illustrate their letters to us with some of their dinosaur creations.  Our dinosaur expert wanted to see lots of labelling on the diagrams and the children certainly obliged, well done Year 2/3AP.  Young Alfie even put a drawing of “Dinosaur Mike” next to his dinosaur so that he could show the scale, that’s a really good idea.

Alfie’s Letter Included a Prehistoric Animal Drawing That Used “Dinosaur Mike” for Scale

Alfie says thank you after the dinosaur workshop.

Alfie’s thank you letter.

Picture Credit: Alfie (Pebble Brook Primary)/Everything Dinosaur

A number of the children, including Ashlea, Luke and Adam wanted to know how we find all the fossils?  Well, it takes patience and you have to visit places such as beaches where fossils are being washed out of the cliffs, then you simply explore the beach area picking up and examining any strange shaped objects you might find amongst the stones and gravel.  Sometimes, we have to dig out dinosaur bones using excavators and shovels, but when we get close to the bone we take great care and use much smaller tools such as fine chisels and brushes to carefully free the fossil from the surrounding rock.   If the children of class 2/3AP found a complete fossil of a Tyrannosaurus rex buried in their playground and they all worked eight hours a day, seven days a week it could take more than three years to excavate the fossilised bones, clean them all and prepare them for display in a museum!

Mia asked how much does a T. rex weigh?  Another good question, we estimate that a fully-grown T. rex would weigh around seven tonnes, that’s heavier than more than 250 Year 2 pupils!  Some children asked how big was a T. rex skull?  Recently, palaeontologists discovered a Tyrannosaurus rex skull in America, when it has been dug out and put together it is likely to measure more than 1.2 metres long.

A Super Thank You Letter Sent in by Anita

Young dinosaur fan send in a letter.

A thank you letter to Everything Dinosaur from Anita.

Picture Credit: Anita (Pebble Brook Primary)/Everything Dinosaur

Several of the children impressed with their joined-up hand-writing and we really like the spiky dinosaur that Anita drew for us.  To answer your question Anita, T. rex was a meat-eater, whilst Stegosaurus was a plant-eater, can the children in Year 2/3AP remember the word used by scientists to describe a meat-eater C_R_IV_RE?  Can they remember the word used to describe plant-eaters H_RB_V__E?

A Thank You Letter from Ruby

A thank you letter from Ruby.

Ruby’s thank you letter.

Picture Credit: Ruby (Pebble Brook Primary)/Everything Dinosaur

Lots and Lots of Questions

Andrea asked what age our dinosaur expert was when he found his first fossils?  He was eight-years-old, when he found his first fossils on a trip to the seaside.  Lucie and Patricia asked how many fossils have we got?  To be honest Patricia and Lucie, we have never stopped to count them all, we must have a few thousand in total.  Our thanks to Andrei, Ryan, Cyprian and Lois and to the whole of class 2/3AP for their super dinosaur designs.  We enjoyed looking at all the prehistoric animal drawings and we loved reading all the wonderful letters.  A big T. rex roar with delight to all the children in Year 2/3AP and a special thank you from us to Miss Pestell for being such an inspiring teacher.

Carrfield Primary Academy and Dinosaurs

Key Stage 1 Study Dinosaurs, Volcanoes and Fossils

Children in the three Key Stage 1 classes at Carrfield Primary Academy (south Yorkshire), have spent the second half of the autumn term learning all about dinosaurs, volcanoes and fossils.  Working with the Cornerstones curriculum, the dedicated teaching team have been exploring all things prehistoric under the “Dinosaur Planet” scheme of work.  The well-appointed and tidy classrooms have lots of amazing dinosaur themed examples of the children’s work on display.  In class 1HJ, the budding young palaeontologists have been learning about bones and parts of the body by creating their very own dinosaur skeletons.

Dinosaur Skeletons on Display

Year 1 make dinosaur skeletons from drinking straws.

Carefully crafted dinosaur skeletons on display in a Year 1 classroom.

Picture Credit: Carrfield Primary Academy/Everything Dinosaur

Outside of the Year 1 classroom, the teaching team have posted up “dinosaur fact flaps” featuring a massive Brachiosaurus, the plant-eating horned dinosaur Triceratops and the tiny, feathered meat-eater Microraptor.  Some excellent examples of non-fiction writing accompany the informative dinosaur posters.

Class 1HJ Posted Up Lots of Dinosaur Information

Class 1HJ and their dinosaur posters.

Dinosaur facts and figures posted up by the Year 1 class at Carrfield Primary Academy.

Picture Credit: Carrfield Primary Academy/Everything Dinosaur

Dinosaur Explorers in Class 1/2LD

Under the inspiration tutelage of the teaching team, the children in the mixed Year 1/2 class have been creating dinosaur themed story maps all about their favourite prehistoric animals.  We hope the tongue-twister we provided on the famous fossil hunter Mary Anning inspires the children to write their own prehistoric animal themed poetry.

Lots of Schematic Story Maps on Display in the 1/2LD Classroom

Dinosaur themed schematic story maps on display.

Schematic story maps are a great way to check understanding and learning.

Picture Credit: Carrfield Primary Academy/Everything Dinosaur

Being able to demonstrate evidence of learning as the children progress through a term topic is extremely important.   These schematic story maps are a great way to check understanding and to test the children’s ability to recall information.  Outside in the corridor, the pupils in 1/2LD have been looking at baby dinosaurs and studying dinosaur eggs.  Paper mâché models of the eggs of dinosaurs had been created and if you look inside, you can see the baby dinosaurs waiting to hatch.

Key Stage 1 Children Look at Dinosaur Eggs

Dinosaur egg arts and crafts by KS1.

“Out of the Egg” display by Year 1/2 children.

Picture Credit: Carrfield Primary Academy/Everything Dinosaur

The paper mâché models certainly made an “egg-citing” display.  The children had also constructed volcanoes out of plastic bottles and paper mâché.  Mums, dads, grandparents and guardians had been invited into the school to help the volcanoes erupt!

Year 2 Combine Learning About Three-Dimensional Shapes with Dinosaur Studies

The teacher in Year 2 with the help of the enthusiastic teaching assistants had been explaining about three-dimensional shapes.  The challenge set was could the class create a Tyrannosaurus rex out of cylinders, cubes and cones?

A 3-D Tyrannosaurus rex on Display Outside of 2CN Classroom

A 3-D model of a dinosaur in school.

A three-dimensional dinosaur helps children to learn about spheres, cylinders, cubes and cones.

Picture Credit: Carrfield Primary Academy/Everything Dinosaur

The children made some three-dimensional dinosaur teeth out of clay, they could compare their clay teeth to the dinosaur teeth we showed the children in the workshop.  What sort of three-dimensional shapes are the teeth of dinosaurs?

We provided lots of extension ideas and suggestions plus some extra resources to help the teachers with their lesson plans as they bring this exciting dinosaur themed topic, a topic that has been thoroughly enjoyed by the teaching team as well as the children, to a conclusion.

Exploring Life in the Past with Year 2/3

Dinosaurs and Fossils with Year 2/3

For the children in the three classes of Year 2/3 at Pebble Brook Primary School, the autumn term has been dedicated to learning all about prehistoric life.  Over the last eight weeks or so, the dedicated teaching team have introduced a wide range of cross-curricular activities all linked to learning about dinosaurs, prehistoric animals and the Stone Age.  As part of the challenging scheme of work that had been devised, the children were asked to make a dinosaur themed model over the half-term break.  A member of the Everything Dinosaur team visiting the school had the opportunity to view some of the amazing dinosaurs and prehistoric scenes the children had created.

On Display Outside the Year 2/3 Classrooms – Prehistoric Scenes

Dinosaurs on display.

Dinosaur and prehistoric scenes outside the classrooms.

Picture Credit: Pebble Brook Primary School/Everything Dinosaur

The collection of prehistoric landscapes and dinosaur dioramas made a very attractive exhibit and several of the children’s models were used in a special assembly following our dinosaur and fossil workshop.  The Year 2/3 children presented some of the fascinating facts that they had learned about dinosaurs to other classes as well as the mums and dads.

A Very Sparkly Dinosaur Created as a Half-term Project

A very sparkly armoured dinosaur.

A very sparkly armoured dinosaur spotted in Year 2/3 AP classroom.

Picture Credit: Pebble Brook Primary School/Everything Dinosaur

The well-appointed classrooms highlighted lots of fiction and non-fiction writing exercises and each of the three classrooms had a special “wow wall” with a wonderful dinosaur and Stone Age people illustration surrounded by lots of topic themed words to help the budding young palaeontologists expand their vocabularies.

Prehistoric theme for a special topic about life in the past.

A colourful dinosaur and cavemen display board.

Picture Credit: Pebble Brook Primary School/Everything Dinosaur

Carnivores, Omnivores and Herbivores

The children were keen to demonstrate their knowledge and they enthusiastically explained the foods that carnivores, omnivores and herbivores ate, all linking nicely into that part of the Year 2 science programme in the English national curriculum that relates to living things and their habitats.  In addition, the Year 3 children enjoyed learning about the properties of fossils, which dove-tails into the lower Key Stage 2 science programme that covers soils, rocks and fossils.

Exploring Life in the Past

Dinosaurs and cavemen.

A Dinosaur and cavemen themed display board.

Picture Credit: Pebble Brook Primary School/Everything Dinosaur

All three classes would be getting to grips with the use of rulers for measuring in the very near future, the extension activity we provided which involves measuring and comparing the footprints of different dinosaurs should work well with the teaching team’s lesson plans.  The dinosaur coprolite certainly proved to be very popular and it helped reinforce the children’s learning after they had examined some “dinosaur poo” in a previous classroom activity.

Mini “Jurassic Worlds” on Display

Colourful dinosaur scenes.

Several prehistoric scenes on display outside the classroom.

Picture Credit: Pebble Brook Primary School/Everything Dinosaur

All too soon, it was time to leave the enthusiastic pupils and their dedicated teachers.  However, we did set the children a special challenge.  As they had lots of questions and since we were unable to address them all during the day, it was suggested that the children could write into our office or email us and we would do our best to provide them with answers.  This provided yet another non-fiction writing activity for the children to undertake, as well as giving the teachers the opportunity to explore the differences between writing a letter and sending an email with their pupils.

Dinosaurs at Anfield Road Primary School

Year 2 Tackle Dinosaurs

It was a busy day for High Flyers, Bright Sparks and Whizz Kids, the three classes in Year 2 at Anfield Road Primary yesterday.  The children had just started their term topic “Can you Walk with Dinosaurs?” as well as having just moved into their brand-new classrooms.

The enthusiastic teaching team had prepared for the dinosaur and fossil themed workshop delivered by Everything Dinosaur, by helping the children to explore what they already knew about dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals, part of a teaching method, we refer to as KWL – what children know?  What they would like to know and what have they learned at the end of the topic?  This is a great way to start a term topic and the outcomes from this class exercise can provide an invaluable guide to planning the scheme of work.

The children in High Flyers class had used cut-outs of Triceratops (during our workshop we explored the chin of a Triceratops), to write down what they know about dinosaurs.  Lots of amazing pre-knowledge being demonstrated and plenty of room on the spacious display wall for lots of other dinosaur related facts.

What Do We Know About Dinosaurs? (High Flyers)

What do we know about dinosaurs?

Children explore what they know about dinosaurs.

Picture Credit: Anfield Road Primary/Everything Dinosaur

A Dinosaur World Ready for Creative, Imaginative Play (Bright Sparks)

A dinosaur display in the classroom.

A prehistoric park ready for creative, imaginative play in the classroom.

Picture Credit: Anfield Road Primary/Everything Dinosaur

The teacher in the Bright Sparks classroom had helped the children create a miniature dinosaur world.   This is a great way of helping the children to work out what resources animals need to survive and no doubt this mini “Jurassic Park” will inspire the children when it comes to fiction and non-fiction writing.  Over the course of the day, our dinosaur expert met a number of children who had names quite similar to the names of some dinosaurs.  We challenged the children to design their own dinosaur, labelling the body parts (especially the skull).  Could they come up with a name for their new dinosaur?

Morgan and Morganucodon

During one of our dinosaur workshops we met a little boy called Morgan.  He explained that a big asteroid hit the Earth and that helped wipe out the dinosaurs.  Morgan and all his friends showed great listening skills and they joined in all the exercises with tremendous enthusiasm.  Coincidentally, the Everything Dinosaur team member who led the workshops at the school is currently proof reading a new book all about prehistoric mammals, some of which would have scurried around the feet of dinosaurs.  One of the earliest mammals was a little mouse-sized creature called Morganucodon (pronounced Mor-gan-yew-coe-don), so, especially for Morgan, we have included a picture of this Triassic mammal in our article.

A Picture of Morganucodon For Morgan and His Friends

The Triassic mammal Morganucodon.

An illustration of the Triassic mammal Morganucodon.

For its size, this little mammal had a big brain.  In the dinosaur themed workshop, we challenged the children to test their brains against the brain of the biggest, heaviest armoured dinosaur known to science, just one of the many activities and topic areas covered as we compared people to dinosaurs.

Ready to Display All the Dinosaur Themed Work (Whizz Kids)

Ready to explore a dinosaur themed term topic.

A wall in the classroom ready to display dinosaur themed work.

Picture Credit: Anfield Road Primary/Everything Dinosaur

We had the opportunity to take a quick look around the new classrooms.  The children had just moved into them earlier in the week.  The light, airy and superbly appointed classrooms looked fantastic.  The teaching team and the rest of the dedicated staff at Anfield Road Primary are quite rightly very proud of these new teaching facilities, we look forward to seeing lots of lovely dinosaur themed numeracy and literacy displays posted on the walls of the spacious classrooms.

Fossil Hunting at Biddulph Grange

Already for the Fossil Hunting at Biddulph Grange

Last Sunday, Everything Dinosaur team members visited Biddulph Grange Garden in Staffordshire as part of the dinosaur themed activities that had been organised at the National Trust property.  Our staff arrived nice and early and set up a fossil hunting activity for the budding young palaeontologists in the specially erected marquee that had been provided.

All Ready for the Fossil Hunting Activity at Biddulph Grange Garden

Everything Dinosaur fossil hunting activity.

Fossil trays laid out at Biddulph Grange Gardens.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The picture above shows the marquee starting to get prepared for all the visitors we were expecting that day.  The event, part of The National Trust’s promotional campaign to raise awareness about the restoration of the unique Geology Gallery at Biddulph Grange, had been sold out for some weeks.  However, on the day itself our dedicated team met up with a number of other visitors to the beautiful gardens and we even gave away some fossils to visitors who had been unaware of the event and “popped into the tent to have a look around”.

Preparing the Tables to Help Identify the Fossils

Everything Dinosaur at Biddulph Grange Gardens 2016.

Fossil trays laid out at Biddulph Grange Gardens.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Giving Away Fossils

We put lots of gravel into the trays on the floor and then carefully added a variety of fossils so that visitors could have a go at spotting fossils amongst the stones.  There were shark teeth, bivalves, brachiopods, fossilised wood, trilobites, ammonites, belemnite guards and even pieces of fossilised bone.  We certainly had a busy day, our early arrival allowed us to get organised and lay out all the helpful fossil identification charts that we had prepared.  We had to keep up topping up the fossil hunting trays, the visitors were finding so many specimens.

The early arrival also allowed Everything Dinosaur team members to visit the partially restored Geology Gallery.  When completed (late spring 2017), the gallery will house many fossils and casts that help explain about prehistoric animals and life in the past.  Mr James Bateman, the former owner of Biddulph Grange and Gardens, built a wonderful gallery dedicated to uniting the ideas of a biblical creation with the newly emerging sciences of geology and palaeontology, scientific ideas that were beginning to take root in the 1860’s.

Day V (Five) in the Geology Gallery

Biddulph Grange Geology Gallery.

Part of the Geology Gallery at Biddulph Grange Gardens, ready for restoration.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The picture above shows the spaces in the walls where the original fossils were housed.  The large, almost triangular space at the top of the photograph was the location of a partial Ichthyosaur skull (Temnodonotosaurus platydon).  Sadly, very little documentation regarding the gallery and its contents have been preserved.  One of the fascinating problems associated with this particular restoration project is trying to work out what fossils went into the various spaces.  Only one of the original fossils remains, a section of Lepidodendron bark with its characteristic diamond shaped leaf scars.

The Lepidodendron Bark Fossil in the Geology Gallery

A piece of fossilised bark (Lepidodendron).

The Lepidodendron fossil (ancient bark).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Although the term Lepidodendron is used to refer to a genus of tree-sized lycopsid, strictly, only the scale bark on the uppermost part of the plant is named Lepidodendron.  Plants are rarely preserved as whole fossils but normally occur as isolated fragments, often representing different parts of the organism, the leaves, roots, trunk, stems, fruiting bodies, flowers and such like.  As these different parts are found separately, each plant tends to get a separate scientific name.  Hence, the roots of this lycophyte are referred to as Stigmaria and the base of the trunk is called Knorria.

Lepidodendron is derived from the Greek, it means “scale tree”, a very apt description for the diamond-shaped leaf scales which can be clearly seen in the Biddulph Grange fossil.

Everything Dinosaur and the Cornerstones Curriculum

Whole School Topic Maps and the Cornerstones Curriculum

One of the main focal points linked to the establishment of a new curriculum was the aim to help every child reach his or her potential.  Providing an enriched and stimulating environment is essential and every day we come across examples of teaching excellence.  We see the efforts of many teachers to introduce a range of teaching styles and to really enthuse and motivate their class.  Thanks to the support of the senior leadership team, teaching professionals can set out to develop children emotionally and help them to prepare for adult life as well as embracing an appreciation of lifelong learning.  Hence the renewed focus on helping the children to experience personal, social, health and emotional development.

Helping Young People to Become Lifelong Learners

Personal, emotional and social development.

Helping learners to gain an appreciation of lifelong learning.

Picture Credit: Press (Frankfurter Buchmesse)

The Cornerstones Curriculum

A lot of schools have chosen to adopt the Cornerstones curriculum.  This topic based curriculum reflects the requirements of the National Curriculum in a structured and organised manner, helping pupils to remain engaged and to apply skills and knowledge.  Often a whole school topic map will be planned, usually running on a biannual cycle.  Learning about rocks and fossils is now part of the science curriculum for Lower Key Stage 2, whilst evolution and natural selection subjects are found within the science subject areas for Year 6, so Everything Dinosaur’s workshops have a very broad appeal.  In addition, teachers of younger children find dinosaurs as an ideal term topic area, following on from children’s fascination for dinosaurs and providing an opportunity to develop and improve skills learnt to enable them to reach their full potential.

A Dinosaur Term Topic Can Really Help the Development of Young Minds

Children enjoy learning about dinosaurs.

Lots of literacy and numeracy activities displayed.

A Cross Curricular Approach to Learning

The Cornerstones curriculum allows the teaching team to tailor the content and delivery of the teaching scheme of work to meet the needs of individual pupils.  It is essentially, a cross curricular approach to learning, hence when we are delivering a dinosaur themed workshop to Lower Key Stage 1 for example, we like to be briefed on the learning outcomes that the teaching team require.  In this way, we can cover key aims and help to reinforce learning, as well as providing plenty of numeracy, literacy and IT based extension exercises.

Cornerstones has four main areas of learning:

  • Engage
  • Develop
  • Innovate
  • Express

During each of these interlocking stages, children have the opportunity to develop and improve skills learnt to enable them to reach their full potential.   We are often amazed at just how much knowledge children demonstrate during our school visits, for example, during our last fossil themed workshop, children were eager to tell us all about some marine reptiles that they had been learning about.

In the “Engage” element, pupils have the opportunity to kick-start a topic area with a memorable, thought provoking, first-hand learning experience.  Everything Dinosaur’s dinosaur workshops in schools are often used as a provocation to help give the term topic a good start.  Our dedicated teaching team will be undertaking a number of these provocations over the next two weeks as schools start a new dinosaur and fossil themed topic area at the beginning of the second half of the autumn term.

In the “Develop” element, children improve their knowledge and understanding in relation to their topic.  They develop and practice new skills learnt and have time to explore and create in relation to their term topic.  Many of the extension ideas we provide to teaching teams allows children to build on their pre-knowledge and to apply this and newly acquired knowledge to a range of scientific themed exercises.  All these extensions are aimed at helping to reinforce learning.

For further information about Everything Dinosaur’s work in schools: Contact the Teaching Team at Everything Dinosaur

When it comes to the “Innovate” section, we like to see pupils applying the skills and knowledge they have learnt in real life, palaeontological contexts.  An example of this is challenging a Year 6 class to debate whether cloning a Woolly Mammoth would be a good idea.

Thoughtful and Provocative Debates Related to Climate Change, Extinction and the Ethics Behind De-extinction

The science behind de-extinction.

The science of de-extinction by Beth Shapiro.

Picture Credit: Princeton Press

During our workshops, we like to give children the opportunity to explore real problems.  This helps to inspire them through learning and allows them to see how classroom teaching can be applied to real scientific conundrums.

Finally, we come to the “Express” section.  This provides young learners with the opportunity to become performers, experts and to inform others.  Demonstrating what they have learned can come in different forms, from a school assembly presentation related to mass extinction to writing and performing an expressive dance piece that depicts the extinction of the dinosaurs.  We advise teachers to have a dinosaur and fossil themed “learning wall” for this type of term topic.  This permits the class to showcase and celebrate their achievements as they have studied the topic.  A dinosaur museum set up in the classroom can provide a useful focal point for showcasing the work undertaken.

Come to the Dinosaur Museum!

A dinosaur museum set up on the classroom.

Come to our dinosaur museum!

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

We wish everyone well with the start of the second half of the autumn term.  Onwards and upwards with learning, whatever curriculum the school is following.

Fossil Hunting Event at Biddulph Grange Garden

Budding Palaeontologists Wanted at Biddulph Grange Garden – Sunday 30th October

On the cusp of “Dinovember” already and Sunday 30th October will see team members from Everything Dinosaur visiting the prestigious Biddulph Grange Garden (Staffordshire), to set up a fossil finding activity in support of the fund to help restore and refurbish the amazing Geological Gallery at this National Trust property.  The beautiful Biddulph Grange House and Gardens, a fine example of Victorian architecture and landscaping, hide a secret.  Theologian, lay preacher and naturalist James Bateman, the erstwhile owner of the house and gardens, built a unique gallery dedicated to uniting the ideas of a biblical creation with the newly emerging sciences of geology and palaeontology.

An Illustration of the Victorian Geological Gallery

An lithograph of the geological gallery at Bidduph Grange House.

An illustration of James Bateman’s amazing Geological Gallery in its Victorian heyday.

Picture Credit: National Trust

This amazing gallery is currently being restored and Everything Dinosaur will be inviting “palaeontologists in training” to brush up on their fossil hunting skills and help us to discover fossils.  What you find you can take home and keep!

For ticket prices and further information: Palaeontology Camp at Biddulph Grange Garden

Everything Dinosaur team members are busy sorting out all sorts of amazing fossils that they intend to giveaway to lucky fossil hunters on Sunday 30th October, with so many fossils to find, visitors to this fund-raising event are bound to come away with something special, we might even bring a few of our dinosaur fossils and other items along too.

Sorting Prehistoric Sharks Teeth Ready for the Fossil Hunt

fossilised shark teeth.

A successful fossil hunt.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A Unique Space

The Geological Gallery demonstrates the growing scientific understanding of ancient life on Earth and marries it with the biblical view of creation as outlined in the first book of the bible (Genesis).  James Bateman’s vision was to set out fossils and the history of prehistoric animals and plants in the context of the seven days of the Christian creation story.  The garden was a marvel of its age, providing a striking exhibition of beautiful fossils and colourful rocks.  A dedicated team of volunteers at the National Trust are setting out to restore the Geological Galley to its former glory and visitors on Sunday have the opportunity to see the progress, as well as to take home a little bit of Earth’s prehistory for themselves.  Team members at Everything Dinosaur might even play one or two games and provide some palaeontological puzzles to test the knowledge of the young fossil hunters who join us on the day (watch out mums, dads, grandparents and guardians, we might just teach you a thing or two too).

Chirotherium Fossil Track Being Restored to the Exhibit

A Chirotherium reptile print (Triassic).

Restoring one of the fossil exhibits in the Biddulph Grange Geological Gallery.

Picture Credit: National Trust

For further information on the exciting day of dinosaur themed activities (the fun starts at 11.30am Sunday morning), check out this link: Budding Palaeontologists at Biddulph Grange Garden!

A Dinosaur “Wow Wall”

Displaying Children’s Dinosaur Topic Work

Year 1 children at Lowton St Mary’s CE Primary have commenced their autumn term topic entitled “Why are humans not like dinosaurs?  The children have not learned about prehistoric animals in school before, for the teacher too, this is a new topic, requiring careful planning to help cement the learning targets already achieved in Reception and to prepare the children for more directed learning tasks targeted on developing confidence with literacy and numeracy.  A question at the heart of the topic, provides the teaching team with a focal point on which to centre the scheme of work for the term.  In this instance, the question asking about the differences between people and dinosaurs links into one of the key areas of the English national curriculum for Lower Key Stage 1, that of learning about our bodies.

A Focal Point for a Dinosaur Themed Term Topic – “Why are Humans not like Dinosaurs”?

A "Wow Wall" in Year 1 helping to enthuse the children.

Why are humans not like dinosaurs?

Picture Credit: Lowton St Mary’s CE Primary/Everything Dinosaur

A “Wow Wall”

A number of display areas have been prepared around the well-organised classroom to showcase the children’s work.  This can provide a focal point for the children and allows good examples of writing (fiction and non-fiction), to be prominently displayed.  During a visit to the school, to conduct a dinosaur themed workshop with the class to act as a provocation for the term topic, our fossil expert provided further advice as well as some handy extension resources to support planning of the topic areas.  One suggestion was to introduce the story of Mary Anning (1799-1847).  Mary found a number of important fossils around the cliffs of Lyme Regis and the tongue twister “she sells sea shells” is connected with her.  Mary also provides a fine role model for girls, in what otherwise might be viewed as a boy focused topic.

Mary Anning – A Famous Fossil Hunter from Dorset (southern England)

Mary AnningPoster

Helping to learn all about scientists.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A Dinosaur Museum

Many teachers dedicate an area of the classroom for a dinosaur museum, this allows craft ideas such as fabric and clay models or salt dough fossils to be displayed.  This permits the teaching team to support an area of curriculum learning related to exploring the properties of everyday materials.  During our visit we met one little boy who explained that he had some fossils at home.  With permission, these items could be brought into school and put on display in the museum, this allows the teacher to explore with the children what might be needed to keep the fossils safe, how might the fossils be displayed?  When creating a dinosaur museum in a classroom environment we like to ask the class what sort of rules their museum should have.  Thinking about the rules for good behaviour in the museum links into the PSHE elements (personal, social, health and economic values), that are encouraged by Ofsted.  The children considering appropriate behaviour in their museum can help them to understand and develop knowledge, understanding, attitudes and responsibilities with regards to their own behaviour in the class generally.

Different Materials Used to Make a Prehistoric Animal Themed Display

A dinosaur themed display.

Different materials used to make a prehistoric animal themed display.

Picture Credit: Lowton St Mary’s CE Primary/Everything Dinosaur

The prehistoric animal themed display, the “wow wall” as we like to call it, was comprised of a number of different materials.  This was a clever way of helping the children to explore textures as well as the properties of materials.

Milk Carton Woolly Mammoth

Milk Carton Woolly Mammoth

Here’s a simple craft idea for teachers, home educationalists and museum staff who want to teach about Ice Age prehistoric animals.  A plastic milk carton can be turned into a Woolly Mammoth model.

A Milk Carton Woolly Mammoth Model

Making a Woolly Mammoth out of a plastic milk carton.

Making a Woolly Mammoth out of a milk carton.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

This is a simple and fun to make Woolly Mammoth model and would be a great activity for Key Stage 1 or Lower Key Stage 2 children to try.

What You Will Need to Make a Milk Carton Woolly Mammoth

  • Empty plastic milk cartons (washed out to remove any milk residue)
  • Pair of round ended scissors
  • Pencil and black highlighter pen
  • White card or paper
  • Paints

Taking your milk carton, carefully cut it into half, using the handle as a guide.  The handle will form the trunk of your Mammoth so cut the handle first then cut around the rest of the carton about two centimetres lower down the carton.  This will ensure that your Mammoth’s trunk will be raised off the ground.

What You Need to Make a Milk Carton Mammoth

What you need to make a Woolly Mammoth model from a milk carton.

Tools required to make a milk carton Mammoth.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Once the milk carton has been cut, then simply cut two tongue-shaped slots on the widest part of carton, these will make the legs.  Use a pencil to sketch out where the cuts will be made and then go over the pencil line with the black marker pen to give you a distinctive shape to follow as you cut.  Finally, cut a third tongue-shaped slot on the back of the carton, this slot will help to form the back legs.  If you want, you can cut a small “V” shape at the top of this slot, you can then bend this plastic out to make the Woolly Mammoth’s little tail.

The Milk Carton Woolly Mammoth Begins to Take Shape

Milk carton Woolly Mammoth takes shape.

Woolly Mammoth takes shape (milk carton).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Once the legs and tail have been cut out, simply paint the carton a sandy, brown colour to mimic the shaggy Mammoth coat.  Add the eyes (draw on the tail, if you have not cut out a “V-shaped” slot at the back and add the five rounded nails on each foot.  You can mark the area of the ears as well.  Remember, Woolly Mammoths had relatively short ears compared to those of modern elephants (an adaptation against the cold).

Build Your Own Herd of Woolly Mammoths

A pair of milk carton Woolly Mammoths.

Build your own herd of milk carton Woolly Mammoths.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Adding the Tusks

To finish off your Woolly Mammoth cut two small holes either side of the trunk and then slot in a piece of white card or paper to make the tusks.  Don’t forget to bend the tusks upwards a fraction and there you have it an easy to make milk carton Woolly Mammoth, a super craft idea to support teaching about Ice Age animals and life in the Stone Age.

Different sized milk cartons can be used to make different sized members of your Mammoth herd.

Reception Classes Explore Dinosaurs

Manor Primary and Dinosaurs

Friday was yet another busy day for the young learners at Manor Primary School (Coseley, West Midlands).  The three Reception classes had embarked on their first ever term topic and to cap an exciting week, the children were visited by one of the dinosaur experts from Everything Dinosaur.  With three workshops to deliver over the course of the day, the teaching schedule was quite tight, but within minutes of arriving our team member had settled in and prepared the spacious dance hall in readiness for the first of that morning’s dinosaur workshops.  There was plenty of time prior to the arrival of the children to conduct a briefing with one of the Foundation Stage teachers.  This helped establish learning objectives and intended outcomes for each class workshop.  In addition, our dinosaur expert was given the opportunity to view some of the excellent preparation that had been undertaken by the teaching team in this Ofsted rated “outstanding” school.

RLC Class Children Had Thought About Dinosaurs Prior to the Workshop

A simplified KWL chart with Reception children.

Reception children think about dinosaurs. What can they tell the teacher?

Picture Credit: Manor Primary/Everything Dinosaur

First Time Dinosaurs

This was the first term topic for the three Reception classes, the autumn term marking the transition from the Nursery programme onto the more structured learning associated with Foundation Stage 2 on the national curriculum.  It was also the first time that the teachers had covered dinosaurs with their charges, our handy phonetic pronunciation guide was greatly appreciated, we know how challenging some of those dinosaur names can be!  The extra resources that we had provided were well received and there was even an opportunity to inspect the organised and tidy classrooms prior to the start of the school day.

As a teaching school, providing support and training to other schools in the area, Manor Primary sets high standards for both pupils and staff.  Emphasis is placed on developing confident, enthusiastic learners and the stimulating activities that the children had been focused on in the first few days of this term topic provided plenty of evidence of a thoughtful and well-planned scheme of work.  Some of the children had made clay fossils, whilst others had been constructing dinosaur teeth.   One class had been excavating their very own set of dinosaur bones in the classroom sand tray.  Dinosaurs and fossils as a topic certainly gives plenty of scope for exploring the properties of materials as well as for creative, imaginative play.

RAB Class Had Been Making Their Own Dinosaur Land

A Reception class dinosaur themed creative play area.

A creative play area with a dinosaur theme in the Reception class.

Picture Credit: Manor Primary/Everything Dinosaur

Dinosaur Drawing Challenge

Plenty of space had been set aside in each of the three Reception classrooms to allow the children’s work to be displayed.  We challenged the children to have a go at drawing their very own dinosaur, but we also wanted to see plenty of labelling of the dinosaur’s body parts.  Could they label the dinosaur’s head?  Lots of pre-knowledge was demonstrated by the children, they certainly know their dinosaurs, but our workshops also focused on developing vocabulary as well as exploring the differences between people and prehistoric animals.  Plenty of good listening in evidence, which was quite remarkable given the fact that some of these enthusiastic palaeontologists have only just turned four.

RKM Class Take Up Palaeontology in the Sand Tray

Reception class dig for dinosaurs.

Digging for dinosaurs with a Reception class.

Picture Credit: Manor Primary/Everything Dinosaur

The children certainly have access to diverse and varied dinosaur themed activities.  All learning styles seem to be well catered for.  We hope that our novel way of demonstrating the size of a Tyrannosaurus rex, part of the extension resources that were provided, helps the FS2 children to appreciate that some dinosaurs were very big indeed!  Or were they massive, giant, huge, bigger – just some or the words the children came up with when we examined fossils and challenged the children to describe some of them.

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