Category: Teaching

Volcanoes at Yorkshire School

Year 4 Pupils Make Volcanoes

Whilst on a school visit to teach about dinosaurs and fossils one of our teaching team was given the chance to view an excellent display of volcanoes made by Year 4 pupils as they studied rocks and the formation of the Earth. There was some amazing artwork on display and under the teacher’s tutelage, some children had even made models.  Some of the models spouted lava flows made from coloured tissue paper, other volcano models had been prepared for use later on in the day, where with the addition of vinegar and bicarbonate of soda, they were going to “erupt”.  Carbon dioxide produced in the plastic drinks bottle that helps to form the cone shape will force out the liquid lava as the gas pressure builds.  It is a good idea to put plenty of newspaper down to keep mess to a minimum and we like to add a few drops of washing up liquid to help the lava bubble.  Food colouring can be used to create, red, orange and even blue lava  - whatever colour takes your fancy!

Children’s  Models of Volcanoes on Display

Lava erupting from the cone shaped volcanoes

Lava erupting from the cone shaped volcanoes

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur/Hoylandswaine

 We discussed the extinction of the dinosaurs as part of our dinosaur workshop and we looked at other theories about the Cretaceous mass extinction, including volcanic activity leading to dramatic climate change.

To read more about alternative theories to the asteroid impact theory: Dinosaur Extinction Theory – Blame the Deccan Traps

It certainly was a most enjoyable day, one that delighted our geologist colleagues when the saw the pictures of the children’s work.

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

Schematic Story Maps Help Children Remember Facts

Dinosaur Extinction Explained using Schematic Story Maps

When it comes to helping Year 1 recount what they have learned during their term topic on dinosaurs, the class teaching team at Wroxton Primary School utilise a simple technique that helps “map out” facts into a straight forward story for the children.

Being able to demonstrate evidence of learning at the end of a term topic is extremely important.  It is essential that the teaching team with the support of their learning support providers and teaching assistants can monitor the progress made by pupils.  At Everything Dinosaur, we recommend using the KWL technique to help plan and record the achievement of various learning objectives, however, there are a number of different techniques and methodologies available to teachers.

The KWL technique involves working with the class at the start of the topic to establish what the children know, what they would like to learn and this provides the foundation for the scheme of work and permits that all important recall and checking of learning once the topic has been concluded.

A Typical KWL Chart Prepared for a Dinosaur Teaching Topic

A chart to help kick-start a teaching topic about dinosaurs.

A chart to help kick-start a teaching topic about dinosaurs.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Essentially, KWL permits the following:

K= Know (test what the children known, brainstorming/discussion activities) log results

W = What (during the first stage questions will be raised, ideas to be tested proposed, these can form the basis of the teaching work)

L = Learn (the recounting stage or the recall stage, review at the end of the term topic what the children have learned (check learning, summarise learning)

During a school visit to a primary school in Oxfordshire, one of Everything Dinosaur’s dinosaur experts came across some excellent examples of story maps being used to help create visual cues to stimulate learning and recall for use in creative writing activities.  Our expert saw several examples of such “story boarding” maps, one covering the extinction of the dinosaurs, another telling the story of Mary Anning (1799-1847).

Visual Story Map for use in Year 1

Visual cues to help young children recall facts about dinosaurs.

Visual cues to help young children recall facts about dinosaurs.

Picture Credit: Wroxton Primary School

A level of knowledge regarding possible causes of the extinction of the dinosaurs was clearly demonstrated by the Year 1 pupils who were eager to explain all about an object from outer space crashing into the Earth and what happened to the dinosaurs as a result.  This was a most impressive demonstration of learning using a technique which would appeal to those children who prefer a visual learning style.

A Morning Studying Dinosaurs

Christ Church Primary School Pupils Study Dinosaurs

Year 1 pupils at Christ Church Primary School (Stoke on Trent, England), got the chance to get up very close to some dinosaur fossils as they studied prehistoric animals as part of their term topic.  Under the tutelage of one of the school’s Key Stage 1 tutors Miss Bryant, ably assisted by teaching assistant Mrs Dyer, the children have been learning about life in the past and how fossils are formed as they study dinosaurs over the spring term.  A team member from Everything Dinosaur had been invited into the school to assist with the teaching work and to undertake a whole morning of dinosaur themed activities and exercises as part of a dinosaur workshop.  The classroom was very colourful with lots of dinosaur artwork and posters on display and the children were very keen to complete morning registration so that the dinosaur themed teaching activities could start.

The children were challenged to have a go at casting museum quality replica fossils from Everything Dinosaur’s own fossil collection and with one group of children led by Mrs Dyer and the second group supervised by Miss  Bryant, two lovely replica fossils were cast.  The size and scale of some dinosaurs was considered and the children were encouraged to compare bones in their body to those of famous dinosaurs.  The brain of an armoured dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous being confirmed as being about the size of a six-year old child’s fist, whilst the same dinosaur could happily sit five Year 1 pupils in its body cavity.

Thank you Letter Sent in by Ocean

Ocean says thank you to Everything Dinosaur for school visit.

Ocean says thank you to Everything Dinosaur for school visit.

Picture Credit: Ocean (Christ Church Primary School)

There were lots of questions asked and the pupils showed a good degree of independent learning as the Everything Dinosaur team member discussed meat-eating dinosaurs and compared them to plant-eating dinosaurs.  Over the course of the morning, a lot of different types of fossil were examined and at the end of the visit an Everything Dinosaur “pinkie palaeontologists challenge” was set before the class.  Could the children demonstrate the ability to recall information and write a thank you letter to our dinosaur expert?

Dinosaurs as a teaching topic lends itself to all sorts of innovative learning activities that dove-tail into the outcomes and aims expected from the National Curriculum.  Creating a thank you letter permits the teaching team to introduce a recounting element into the teaching work.  This helps to check understanding and reinforce learning.

Often a problem when developing literacy exercises for Year 1 pupils is how to give the children  a purpose for writing, a thank you letter to a school visitor fits the bill nicely.

School Children Send In Thank You Letters

Wonderful writing from Year 1.

Wonderful writing from Year 1.

Picture Credit: Phoebe (Christ Church Primary School)

 All the letters that we received were carefully read by our team of dinosaur experts and we have posted them up onto a big display board, a special thank you to all the budding palaeontologists who wrote thank you letters.  It seems that the teaching staff had fun teaching about dinosaurs in school and the school children loved learning all about prehistoric animals.

To read more about Everything Dinosaur’s teaching about dinosaurs in school: Dinosaur Workshops

Art and Science Combine in School During Fossil Study

School Children Make Models of Fossils as they Study Dinosaurs

Year 1 and Year 2 children at Hoylandswaine Primary School showcased their dinosaur and prehistoric animal knowledge this week during a school visit from a dinosaur expert at Everything Dinosaur.  Under the tutelage of Miss Birkinshaw, the class teacher, the children had been studying dinosaurs and fossils with a special emphasis on food chains and the role of carnivores/herbivores in ecosystems.  A dig site had been created in the classroom, with Miss Birkinshaw and the children providing fossils for the budding young palaeontologists to excavate.  A grid system had been overlaid and the children had been set a number challenges to identify and describe the objects located on various parts of the dig site.  This reflects what we actually do when it comes to mapping an actual fossil excavation.

Primary School Children Map Out Their Own Fossil Excavations

Palaeontology in schools

Palaeontology in schools

Picture Credit: Hoylandswaine Primary School/Everything Dinosaur

Some super Ammonite fossils can be seen in the picture.

As part of the morning’s activities the children examined a variety of fossils including teeth from a giant prehistoric shark (C. megalodon) and with Harry’s help the size of the backbone of a Stegosaurus was compared to our own vertebrae.  Mrs Burr (Teaching Assistant) and Miss Burkinshaw were appointed team captains as one half of the class were given the task of casting a replica shark fossil tooth, whilst the other half were challenged with casting a dinosaur toe bone which had come from a huge and very old duck-billed dinosaur, a specimen of a dinosaur called Edmontosaurus.

The children asked lots of questions and they learned some facts about Tyrannosaurus rex which meant that their poster display on the “King of the Tyrant Lizards” would have to be altered in the light of the information that they had been provided with.  Lots of artwork and creative writing was on display and in the corridor close to the school office there was was a display that had been populated by various dinosaur themed objects and a special workbook that showed some of the areas of study that the children had been looking at.

School Dinosaur Project Book on Display

Children write about fossils and fossil discoveries

Children write about fossils and fossil discoveries

Picture Credit: Hoylandswaine Primary School/Everything Dinosaur

On the left-hand side of the book shows pictures of Plesiosaur fossils (a marine reptile), fortunately, our expert had a piece of a Plesiosaur vertebrae on hand to show some of the children who had stayed behind during lunch to ask further questions.  Young Jack had brought in some of his own fossils.  His fossil collection proved very handy when Harriet exhibited the fossil model she had made out of clay.  Our expert was able to talk about the lines of symmetry in Harriet’s colourful model and then compare the clay fossil to a real “sand dollar” fossil in Jack’s fossil collection.

Comparing a Clay Model to a Fossil “Sand Dollar”

Sand dollar fossil compared to a clay model.

Sand dollar fossil compared to a clay model.

Picture Credit: Hoylandswaine Primary School/Everything Dinosaur

Harriet had done a wonderful job of making and painting her fossil.  The lines radiating out from the centre reminded our dinosaur expert of the fossilised calcite plates associated with a type of sea urchin (Echinoids – pronounced “eck-in-oids”), often referred to as a “sand dollar”.  ”Sand dollars” fossils are relatively common, these animals are part of a group of sea creatures that originated around 480 million years ago (Ordovician), but most of the “sand dollar” fossils seen today are much more recent.  Still, Jack’s fossil could be over twenty million years old.  The rigid external skeleton of a “sand dollar” is called a “test”.  On the top surface, is a five pointed star-like structure, these are five paired rows of pores, like look a little like the petals on a flower.  These pores can seen on Jack’s fossil.  When the sea urchin was alive, tube feet projected through theses pores and these feet were multi-purpose, they helped the little animal to burrow into soft sediment,  to move about and they also helped the animal breathe and to gather food.

“Sand dollars” are around today and often tests are washed up onto the beaches of the Western United States.  These tests look like coins hence their common name, but they are also sometimes called “Mermaid coins”, in the past sailors used to believe that if they found one it would bring them good fortune on their next voyage.

Note for Harriet

Lots of different types of “sand dollar” sea urchins are alive today, and some are indeed coloured green and blue.

To conclude the visit, our dinosaur expert set the class a challenge.  The children could write a thank you letter but they must use capital letters and connectives correctly.  Perhaps they could write about their favourite dinosaur or indeed, include a special dinosaur fact in their letter.

We shall see what the budding young palaeontologists from Hoylandswaine Primary School come up with…

For further information on Everything Dinosaur’s work in schools: Dinosaur Workshops for Schools

Thank you letter from a School

Primary School Children Write Thank you Letters to Everything Dinosaur

After a busy few weeks with Everything Dinosaur team members carrying out a lot of dinosaur workshops in schools, team members are busy preparing free downloads for the company’s new “dinosaurs for school” website.  As well as all this teaching activity we have also been keeping up with the huge volume of correspondence that we receive.  Amongst all the drawings, pictures, feedback forms, information requests and such like we get letters from school children who have been involved with our dinosaur teaching in schools.  One such letter was sent from Holly from Yorkshire, we were so impressed that we thought we would post Holly’s excellent letter on our blog site.

Holly Says Thank You to Everything Dinosaur

School children thank Everything Dinosau

School children thank Everything Dinosaur

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur/Holly

Naturally, our team members respond to all those letters, enquiries and contacts that require a reply.

We wrote to Holly saying:

“We are glad that you like dinosaurs and we were very impressed with your writing skills, your letter was very well laid out, the first word that you wrote started with a capital letter and you remembered to use full stops.  You also remembered to put your name on the letter at the bottom, well done Holly!”

We look forward to working with Holly and her classmates in the future and undertaking more dinosaur teaching in schools.

Nursery School Children Construct Dinosaur

Nursery Children Build their own Dinosaur

Whilst on a visit to teach about dinosaurs in school in Yorkshire, one of the Everything Dinosaur team members took a picture of a dinosaur that the nursery class had built as they too studied dinosaurs for the day.  As part of the dinosaur workshop, we were working with Year 2 and Year 3 children, but the nursery children also joined in the day of dinosaur themed activities with some colouring in of pictures of prehistoric animals and an exploration of dinosaurs using the sensory play area.

Nursery School Children Build a Dinosaur

Nursery school children construct a dinosaur in the playground.

Nursery school children construct a dinosaur in the playground.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur/Badsworth Primary School

Using the tyres and building blocks from the outside play area along with some crates that the class had borrowed the children were able to build their very own dinosaur.  One of the little palaeontologists pointed out the yellow feet, whilst another explained that they had put building blocks on the tail just like the plates on a Stegosaurus.

The Everything Dinosaur team member was not quite sure what name the children had come up with, but one of the nursery school children said that their dinosaur was “definitely a plant-eater”.

We suggested that this dinosaur should be called “Nurseryosaurus”.

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

The Ultimate Beginners’ Guide to Dinosaurs

 The Ultimate Beginners’ Guide to Dinosaurs – Kickstarter Campaign

Every once in a while, we at Everything Dinosaur come across a really good idea.  As dinosaur enthusiasts who spend a great deal of our time writing lesson plans for teachers working in Foundation stage and Key Stage 1, we are aware of the limited amount of really good, fact-based reading resources aimed at this particular age group.  Whilst working in schools we are all too frequently approached by a teacher or a member of the learning support team to ask our advice about how to motivate and help enthuse young children who love dinosaurs, but are not that keen on reading.  Talented writer Nicky Allison, might just have the answer…

London-based Nicky, has written seventeen books under the umbrella title of “The Ultimate Beginners’ Guide to Dinosaurs”, each book will be aimed at children from four years to seven years of age and combines a fascination for dinosaurs with a desire to help encourage and motivate children with their reading.   To get this exciting project up and running some more funding is required, and a “Kickstarter” campaign has been set up.

Nicky explains about the project and how the books have been designed with the needs of young readers in mind in this short (2:40) video.

To Hear More about the Kickstarter Campaign

Video Credit: Nicky Allison

A spokes person from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“Children from four years of age, seem to act like sponges when it comes to absorbing information about prehistoric animals.  Books such as these tick all the right boxes when it comes to reflecting the national curriculum and they should provide a valuable resource for use in schools and for home educators.”

We wish Nicky well in her endeavours and we can’t wait to hear more about her ambitions to enthuse the next generation of palaeontologists.

Young Dinosaur Fans Impress with their Dinosaur Knowledge

Springbrook Pupils Discuss Dinosaurs

This morning a team member from Everything Dinosaur visited Springbrook Primary school and met some of the young dinosaur fans who had been learning all about dinosaurs and fossils with their teacher.  Together we looked at just how big some dinosaurs were and the rib bone that we showed the class reminded Liam of a “golf club”.  Abu and Ethan were very good at pronouncing the name of dinosaurs and Miss Foxcroft joined in too.  Luke remembered what needed to be done when it came to pouring the casting mixture into the moulds and he was able to guide his chums as they cast their replica fossil.  Kyle said that his favourite dinosaur was Tyrannosaurus rex and he explained that T. rex was a carnivore and that it ate other dinosaurs.  Kyle had even made a model of this fearsome meat-eater and our dinosaur expert took a picture of it.

Model of a Tyrannosaurus rex

Tyrannosaurus rex dinosaur model.

Tyrannosaurus rex dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Kyle/Everything Dinosaur

Kyle then went on to explain that although Tyrannosaurus rex had short arms they were very strong.

With the enthusiastic Miss Caines and Mrs Makin helping, one of the walls in the classroom had been decorated with a colourful T. rex and a brown painted Triceratops, lots of words had been stuck up onto the dinosaur scene so that the children could refer to the wall poster when writing about dinosaurs in their work books.  The wall poster is a great way to help with the teaching about dinosaurs in school.

Big Dinosaurs Feature on a Big Wall Poster in the Classroom

Colourful dinosaurs lurking behind a tree.

Colourful dinosaurs lurking behind a tree.

Picture Credit: Abu, Ethan, Liam, Luke and Kyle

 Abu, Liam and Luke said that the teeth of T. rex were the size of a banana, what a wonderful description. Perhaps the teaching team could help the children measure some bananas so the fruit can be compared to a dinosaur’s tooth.

When it comes to measuring, the dinosaur footprint diagrams that Everything Dinosaur sent over as part of the follow up from the dinosaur workshop in the school, might help the children too.  They could measure the footprints and then compare the footprint’s made by a dinosaur to the size of their own feet.  Perhaps if the teaching team could find a tape measure, then maybe Ethan could measure around his chest to see if  his rib bones are bigger or smaller than the “golf club” shaped dinosaur rib bone he saw earlier.

Dinosaurs Visit a Liverpool School

Year Two Pupils at Anfield Infant and Early Years School Get to Grips with Dinosaurs

Year Two pupils returning to school after the half-term holiday started a new topic today.  For the next few weeks the children will be learning all about dinosaurs, fossils and other prehistoric animals.  A team member from Everything Dinosaur was invited to visit the school to help launch the topic and to meet all the budding young palaeontologists.  Whizz Kids, High Flyers and Bright Sparks  were very enthusiastic and there were some  wonderful questions asked, such as how did dinosaurs get their name?  How big were the teeth of dinosaurs?  Why did the dinosaurs go extinct?

All the questions asked on the day were answered.  It was great to see how much prior knowledge many of the children had and we are looking forward to seeing examples of their creative writing and reading through the questions that they will prepare over the next couple of weeks and send in to us either by email or by letter.

High Flyers along with Miss Ross and Miss Colebourne created a giant picture of a meat-eating dinosaur, as it had three fingers on its hand, we did not think this was a Tyrannosaurus rex, with its three-fingered hand perhaps it could have been a Giganotosaurus!

Impressive Artwork Created by Year Two Pupils

A splendid meat-eating dinosaur.

A splendid meat-eating dinosaur.

Picture Credit: High Flyers/Everything Dinosaur

Teaching about dinosaurs in school can be a very rewarding experience.  Dinosaurs as a term topic can help children to become passionate readers, develop vocabularies and can give them an outline of some simple scientific principles such as evaluating information and formulating ideas.  There is some wonderful artwork on display around the school to help inspire the pupils, including an amazing 3-D dinosaur scene featuring several beautifully painted prehistoric animals, even a flying reptile (Pteranodon).

Anfield Infants and Early Years School Dinosaur Artwork

Fantastic dinosaur artwork.

Fantastic dinosaur artwork.

Picture Credit: Anfield Infant and Early Years School

What super artwork!  We will have to post up some more pictures onto the Everything Dinosaur Facebook page so that our Facebook fans can see these pictures too.  It seems that when it comes to teaching about dinosaurs in school, here is one set of teachers with their support team who have made it a “roaring” success.

Navigation Primary Dinosaur Days

Year 1 and Reception Explore Dinosaurs

Children in Year 1 and Reception at Navigation Primary School had the chance to explore dinosaurs and fossils when an expert from Everything Dinosaur was invited to their school.  As part of a day of dinosaur themed teaching activities that had been planned by the teachers and the school’s hard-working support staff, the children were given the opportunity to make their own comic strips, design prehistoric animals, create giant dinosaur themed art as well as to get up close to fossils.  Dinosaurs as a topic can really help young children develop a keen interest in reading and the children were enthusiastically showing all the books that they had been studying about dinosaurs, one little boy even brought a book from home to show our dinosaur expert.

When it comes to developing an extensive vocabulary the children were quick to help out with lots of adjectives and having seen the long list of questions that Miss Carney and Miss Bolchover had compiled with the help of the children, it was clear that the dinosaur workshop had fired young imaginations.

Lots and Lots of Questions About Dinosaurs Generated

Dinosaur day inspires young, creative minds.

Dinosaur day inspires young, creative minds.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The picture above shows some of the questions that the children in Year 1 came up with.  There were some amazing and thoughtful questions asked by the children, Miss Johnston’s favourite was why do dinosaurs go “grrr”?

As a topic, whether just for a day, as in the case of Navigation Primary or for a whole term, dinosaurs enthuse both girls and boys and really get them to engage with creative writing activities as well as helping to underline important teaching aims related to literacy, numeracy and simple scientific fundamentals.  For example, Emma showed our dinosaur expert part of a comic strip that she had started to create.  She had taken a great deal of care over the selection of her characters for her story, no doubt inspired by some of the fossils she and her class mates got the chance to handle.  Miss Sugden commented on how excited all the children were, she also mentioned that the teaching staff were also very keen to learn all about dinosaurs.

The Start of Emma’s Dinosaur Comic Strip

Dinosaur comic strip

Dinosaur comic strip

Picture Credit: Emma/Everything Dinosaur

We look forward to hearing more about how Emma and her friends develop their comic strips.

Tyler was delighted to learn that there was a large and fearsome marine reptile that had a name similar to his own (Tylosaurus).  Alex’s favourite dinosaur was Spinosaurus and we were happy to help Alex appreciate just how big this carnivorous, African dinosaur actually was.

School Children Draw Flying Reptiles

Which flying reptile am I?

Which flying reptile am I?

Picture Credit: Dylan/Everything Dinosaur

Young Dylan was inspired to draw a flying reptile (Pterosaur), he challenged our dinosaur expert to have a go at identifying which one it might be.  With something like 130 different species of Pterosaur now described it was quite a challenge working out which flying reptile Dylan had illustrated, we might have to ask Mrs Grosscurth (one of the teaching support staff at the school), to help us out.  During the dinosaur themed day, the teaching team had come up with lots of creative, hands-on activities for the children to try.  Young Freddie created his very own “Jurassic Park” scene on one of the classroom’s computers.  If there was a competition for the most amount of dinosaurs squeezed into a single picture then we think Freddie’s colourful  illustration would win.

Dinosaur Scene Created after Dinosaur Workshop

School children create dinosaur scenes

School children create dinosaur scenes

Picture Credit: Freddie/Everything Dinosaur

Teaching about dinosaurs in schools can lead to all sorts of extension activities.  Everything Dinosaur challenged the Reception and Year 1 children to have a go at designing their very own dinosaur.  They were asked to label the body parts and to think of a name for their prehistoric beast.  We saw some amazing and very imaginative dinosaurs, one of the best we saw was young Henry’s contribution.  Not sure what name Henry will give his multi-coloured dinosaur but “Rainbowsaurus” was suggested.

Designing a Dinosaur

Dinosaur drawings in school.

Dinosaur drawings in school.

Picture Credit: Henry/Everything Dinosaur

A lot of work had gone into planning the day and it was nice to explain to Mr Harrison, that, just like Tyler there was a prehistoric animal that shared a similar name - Scelidosaurus harrisoni and it was an English dinosaur too.  It was a pleasure visiting the school to teach about dinosaurs and our thanks to all the teachers and staff who helped make the children’s day so special.  Unfortunately, a couple of the teachers were unable to attend, but not to worry, we are confident that Mrs Mykoo, Mrs Fisher and  the rest of the staff can fill them in about all things Dinosauria.

Miss Johnston and Miss Bolchover had even made a large, outline sketch of the dinosaur.  The children were encouraged to use their thumb prints to make the scales of the classroom’s very own dinosaur.  Our dinosaur expert was not sure what name the children would come up for their very own prehistoric monster, but we look forward to hearing what they came up with.

Year 1 Create a Classroom Dinosaur

A colourful dinosaur created by Year 1 children

A colourful dinosaur created by Year 1 children

Picture Credit: Year 1/Everything Dinosaur

Young Rosie, amazed us when she explained all about the armoured dinosaur Ankylosaurus and Nora learned that there were some fantastic dinosaurs whose fossils have been found in Spain.

Teaching about dinosaurs in primary schools can help young minds to gain an appreciation of quite challenging concepts such as deep time, extinction,  how fossils are formed and evolution.  Looks like Navigation Primary School are helping to produce the next generation of scientists.

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