Category: Teaching

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

Feedback after Working with EYFS (Reception)

A Tactile Dinosaur Themed Session Helping to Develop Vocabulary

Everything Dinosaur’s team members are busy with the teaching and other outreach commitments as the autumn term progresses.  Yesterday, Everything Dinosaur was working with a primary school in Merseyside, the aim being to help with the term topic (dinosaurs) by providing an interactive and tactile dinosaur and fossil themed workshop.

Could we answer the question of the day – Were some dinosaurs huge?

One of the objectives that was set in the short briefing with the teaching team prior to the first session was to focus on helping to develop vocabulary and to give the children the opportunity to develop a wider range of describing words.

Feedback form from Reception Teacher

Feedback from Primary School (EYFS).

Feedback from Primary School (EYFS).

Working with children, some of whom do not have English as a first language and who have only just started school, can be quite a challenge.  However, guided by their enthusiastic teachers the children had been undertaking all sorts of exciting exercises and activities to do with dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals.  It seems from the feedback received that Everything Dinosaur had indeed, achieved the learning objectives.

We suggested a couple of extension activities as a follow up to some of the work undertaken in the actual dinosaur themed workshop and we look forward to hearing how the children fared as they explore all things dinosaur!

To learn more about Everything Dinosaur’s dinosaur themed workshops for reception classes: Teaching about dinosaurs in schools

Key Stage 1 Pupils Learn about Dinosaurs and Fossils

Primary School Pupils Explore the Dinosauria

Another busy day for Everything Dinosaur team members with a primary school visit.  Children at St. Joseph and St. Bede R. C. Primary had a great time exploring fossils and learning all animals and plants that lived in the past.  As part of our teaching work we looked at the work of a palaeontologist, examined the differences and the similarities between plants today and those preserved as fossils.  The pupils looked at plant-eaters and meat-eaters, well done to Tilly for knowing what a herbivore ate.

Our team member even met a student called Maia and we explained all about the dinosaur called Maiasaura (Good Mother Lizard).

To read more about the dinosaur called Maiasaura: Maiasaura – Mothers Day and Marsh

 The Teaching Team Prepared A Slide Show of the Activities

Slideshow credit: St. Joseph and St. Bede Primary School

 We did have some dinosaur eggs, but we are not sure where they have gone.  Could we have left them at the school?

Lots of extension activities have come out of the visit, we look forward to hearing more about how the school children have been learning to work scientifically.

For more information about Everything Dinosaur’s work in schools: Everything Dinosaur’s Work in Schools

School Site Updates

Everything Dinosaur’s School Site Updates

Busy days at Everything Dinosaur, not only are team members starting the first of the autumn term’s teaching assignments this morning, but there are further updates being added to the company’s bespoke teaching website.  Everything Dinosaur provides a lot of educational resources and support to schools, home educators, teaching assistants and museums.  The teaching website was set up so as to provide a dedicated support site about dinosaurs and fossils to assist those involved in education.

Teaching tips, articles, resources and free downloads.

Teaching tips, articles, resources and free downloads.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Amongst the free downloads, teaching plans, schemes of work and other resources, Everything Dinosaur team members have been busy writing bespoke articles about how dinosaurs and fossils can help in education on the site’s teaching blog.  Trouble is, we have hundreds of articles and even more ideas for new articles so this task is monumental.  Still we shall persevere and new articles are being posted up all the time.

To visit Everything Dinosaur’s dedicated teaching site: Dinosaur and Fossil Themed Resources for Schools

Everything Dinosaur’s New School Site Goes from Strength to Strength

Teachers Getting Access to Free Downloads

The new school website from Everything Dinosaur has only been “live” for a little over a week but already teachers and learning support providers from as far away as Australia and California have been taking the opportunity to download the free teaching resources.  With the new curriculum being rolled out in England, there is a strong emphasis on “working scientifically” and our trained teachers and academics have been enthusiastically offering support and teaching advice.

New Schools and Educational Website From Everything Dinosaur

Teaching tips, articles, resources and free downloads.

Teaching tips, articles, resources and free downloads.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

In the science curriculum, rocks and fossils are an integral part of Key Stage 2 and dinosaurs make a fantastic term topic subject for Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and Reception.  Everything Dinosaur’s school visits start in earnest next week, but our teaching team hope to post up some more, free dinosaur and fossil themed teaching resources before the teaching schedule and dinosaur workshops get into full swing.

A spokes person for Everything Dinosaur commented:

“We have been very pleased with the take up, lots and lots of free dinosaur and fossil themed teaching resources have already been downloaded by teachers, teaching assistants and home educators.”

To visit Everything Dinosaur’s teaching website, a website aimed at helping teachers and other educationalists with the delivery of Earth science based teaching schemes and lesson plans: Everything Dinosaur School Site

New School Curriculum With Rocks, Fossils and Dinosaurs

New Curriculum – New Challenges For Teaching Teams

This week sees the introduction of the new national curriculum for school children in England.  A more “rigorous” curriculum with English, Mathematics and Science as core subjects with pupils at Key Stage 1 (five to seven years old) being introduced to simple fractions and even computer programming.  The aim of this new curriculum which is being rolled out across all state-funded primary and secondary schools, is to improve standards.  However, academies, which now form the majority of secondary schools, will not be required to follow the new curriculum.  State funded schools in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are managed differently but current policies and practices are being reviewed in many parts of the British Isles.

Why the Changes?

The Department for Education, responsible for children’s’ services and education in England, cites falling academic standards when students in England are compared to students from other countries, particular countries such as Singapore, South Korea and China.  From Everything Dinosaur’s perspective, our teaching work aims to help promote the concept of working scientifically and we deal with classes ranging from EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage) right up to Key Stage 4 (students from fourteen to sixteen years).  A number of comparative studies have been undertaken and just like schools themselves, the results vary.  For example, back in 2012 Everything Dinosaur team members reported on the biannual comparative study carried out by researchers at Boston College (USA), which covers the results from two very important international teaching studies, the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) and the trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS).  Broadly, the United Kingdom had shown good progress when it came to mathematics but standards seemed to be slipping when it came to the sciences.

Teaching about Dinosaurs and Fossils in School – Working Scientifically

Lots of facts about dinosaurs.

Lots of facts about dinosaurs.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A topic all about dinosaurs, fossils and extinction helps to bring together core teaching subjects such as science, English and mathematics.

To read more about the study: Mixed Results for Science and Maths in English Schools

 Where does Everything Dinosaur Come In?

With the emphasis on scientific knowledge, conceptual understanding and learning about scientific methods, dinosaurs as a term topic or part of a special science themed teaching week is a great way to engage young minds at Key Stage 1 and earlier.  As children tend to have a fascination with prehistoric animals, our dinosaur workshops help to introduce and reinforce learning objectives as outlined by the new curriculum.  Lower Key Stage 2 have to learn about fossils, how they are formed and what they tell us about the once living things that they represent.   As one of our colleagues declared “Mary Anning is on the curriculum” – great to see a female role model in science.

Older students  in Key Stage 3 and heading up to Key Stage 4 are being given the opportunity to study genetics, evolution and the work of such notable scientists as Darwin and Wallace.

Teachers and their support providers have been working hard to get to grips with this new “rigorous” curriculum.  We are aware that some of the teaching resources related to dinosaurs and fossils used in the past are in some cases out of date, or worse still inaccurate. Everything Dinosaur offers lots of free, downloadable prehistoric animal themed teaching resources from its bespoke teaching website, as well as helpful articles, tips, advice and the opportunity to invite our dinosaur experts into school.

To visit Everything Dinosaur’s teaching website: Everything Dinosaur’s Website For Schools

A Teaching Exercise – Our Hands versus the Hands of a Dinosaur

Examining Dinosaur Hands (Key Stage 2/3)

Examining Dinosaur Hands (Key Stage 2/3)

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

In terms of teaching resources, Everything Dinosaur team members have been advising learning support providers about all sorts of prehistoric animal related merchandise – from finger puppets to science kits.  All the resources we supply have been tested and reviewed by our own teaching team, there’s even free dinosaur fact sheets included as well.

Resources for schools: Teaching Resources for Schools

Here’s to that dedicated group of professionals who serve our school children so well and we wish all the students starting the new curriculum every success with their studies.

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