Category: Teaching

What Kind of Prehistoric Animal was Urvogel?

Explaining about Archaeopteryx

Earlier this week, Everything Dinosaur was emailed by a young dinosaur fan who asked about a prehistoric animal named Urvogel.  She had come across it whilst learning about the famous fossil site of Solnhofen in southern Germany.  The word “Urvogel” is German and it means “first bird”, it refers to Archaeopteryx (A. lithographica), the fossils of which are synonymous with the finely grained limestone beds of the Solnhofen quarries.

The Ancient “Dino-Bird” Archaeopteryx

the first bird - "Urvogel".

the first bird – “Urvogel”.

Picture Credit: Carl Buell

Palaeontologists now know that this creature, fossils of which show a transitional form between Theropod dinosaurs and birds, was probably not the first bird to evolve.  However, when a spectacular fossil discovery was announced in 1861, Archaeopteryx became the first feathered fossil of its kind to be formerly studied and its fossils caused a sensation, as only two years before Charles Darwin had published “The Origin of Species” that outlined the case for evolution and natural selection.

The Solnhofen limestone deposits are finely grained and they outcrop in an east to west belt north of Munich and south of Nuremberg.  Hundreds of fossils of invertebrates have been found and the vertebrate fauna preserved includes over fifty types of fossil fish, around thirty reptiles (Pterosaurs, marine reptiles, dinosaurs and crocodiles).  The Solnhofen deposits are regarded as a Lagerstätte.  This is a German phrase from the words Lager (which means storage) and Stätte (which means place).  It refers to a deposit of sedimentary strata that contains a lot of fossil material that is exceptionally well preserved.

During the Late Jurassic, shallow tropical lagoons and small islands stretched all the way from Portugal in the south through France and into southern Germany.  Coral reefs formed in the tropical seas and these reefs split the coastline up forming a series of isolated lagoons.  These lagoons were cut off from the sea and also from terrestrial run off.  The salinity levels rose in the lagoons and the water may have become oxygen deficient.  This made the mud on the bottom of these lagoons almost devoid of life so any animal or plant remains that drifted into the lagoon was not consumed by scavengers.  The almost stagnant waters had little current so the remains of corpses were not broken up.  Organisms buried by the soft, carbonate muds and formed as fossils in the finely grained sediment therefore have exceptional details preserved and many of these body fossils are almost complete.

Wild Safari Dinosaurs Ammonite Model Reviewed

A Review of the Wild Safari Dinosaurs Ammonite Model

The design team at Safari Ltd have produced a number of prehistoric animal replicas over the years, broadening the scope of their Wild Safari Dinosaurs range to include other extinct creatures and not just dinosaurs.  In 2014, a model of an Ammonite was introduced to the delight of teachers, fossil hunters and model collectors alike.

The Ammonite Model (Wild Safari Dinosaurs)

Large eyes, deeply ribbed shell perhaps a model of a Pavlovia spp?

Large eyes, deeply ribbed shell perhaps a model of a Pavlovia spp?

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Ammonites are an extinct group of Cephalopods, that belong to the extremely diverse Mollusc phylum.  Ammonite fossils, because of their abundance and variety, are very important to geologists and palaeontologists.  Along with two other types of Mollusc, the Bivalves and the Gastropods, (for example snails), Ammonite fossils help scientists to date geological strata relative to other rock formations.

Closely related to living Cephalopods such as squid, the nautilus and cuttlefish, Ammonites lived in chambered shells.  In most species the shells were coiled round and the animal lived in the last section of the outer whorl of the coil, in what is referred to as the body chamber.  The shells made of aragonite, a form of calcium carbonate, are extremely numerous in the fossil record, although the soft parts, the Ammonite’s actual  body tissues are virtually unknown.

It is believed that Ammonites had eight, grasping arms and  two much larger tentacles.  These two tentacles had many suckers on the end which helped these animals grab prey.  It is likely that because of the variety and diversity of Ammonite species, that these creatures occupied a number of niches in marine food webs.  For example, large actively swimming species could have hunted fish, crustaceans or jellyfish, others may have been scavengers, many smaller species probably fed on plankton.

The Ammonite Model from Safari Ltd

A great Ammonite model for use in schools, museums and for model collectors.

A great Ammonite model for use in schools, museums and for model collectors.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Safari Ltd replica is beautifully painted, the coiled shell being a metallic bronze colour, the body chamber battleship grey with the animal itself painted in subtle oranges and pinks.  Note the large eye, like modern Cephalopods such as squid and cuttlefish , Ammonites very probably had excellent eyesight.  They were probably visual hunters, their large eyes giving them excellent peripheral vision to help them avoid predators.

When viewed from the front, a good view of the muscular arms can be obtained.  The two specialised tentacles are painted a lighter colour and can be seen projecting downwards.  The ends, of these two tentacles have been provided with a number of round suckers by the design team at Safari Ltd, these represent the soft, fleshy pad called the dactylus, the apparatus with which the Ammonite could grasp and secure prey.

A View from the Front (Anterior View) of the Ammonite Model

Eight arms and two grasping tentacles.

Eight arms and two grasping tentacles.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Projecting out from underneath is the hypernome, a narrow, muscular tube that squirted water, providing the Ammonite with a form of jet propulsion.

The shell has very prominent ribs which are raised in the last whorl of the shell to form two rows of parallel spines.  Such ornamentation would have helped protect the Ammonite from attack, perhaps deterring a marine reptile such as a Mosasaur from taking a bite.  Whilst these spines would have assisted with the animal’s defence, they do not help much with streamlining.  It may be difficult to identify the precise species that the sculptors at Safari Ltd have based their model on, but due to the shape of the shell, those large ribs and projecting points, the model probably represents quite a slow swimming species.

The Wild Safari Dinosaurs Ammonite Model

A super model of an Ammonite.

A super model of an Ammonite.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

This Ammonite measures a fraction under eleven centimetres in length and the shell has a diameter of six and a half centimetres.  It is not possible to put a scale on this figure, most Ammonite species were small, with shells only a few centimetres across, although the fossil record has preserved the remains of some giant forms with shells in excess of two metres in diameter.

To view the range of Safari Ltd models: Safari Ltd Prehistoric Animal Models

It is great to see a replica of an Ammonite added to the Wild Safari Dinos model range.  It is ideal for use in schools as an inexpensive teaching aid when exploring fossils and in addition it can be added to the display cases of Ammonite fossil material to give viewers an appreciation of what the animal actually may have looked like.

This is an exciting addition to the Wild Safari Dinosaurs model range made by Safari Ltd and it means that Everything Dinosaur now has an Ammonite replica to supply to model collectors and fans of prehistoric animals.  We even supply a fact sheet all about Ammonites and this will be sent out with model sales.

Famous K/T Boundary gets UNESCO World Heritage Status

Stevns Klint Awarded UNESCO World Heritage Status

The World Heritage Committee, meeting in Doha (Qatar) have granted World Heritage status to a number of new sites and locations.  These awards are given to reflect the cultural or natural heritage that such sites and locations represent, they are important to humanity and therefore it is imperative that their value is acknowledged.  One such site is the nine mile long cliffs at Stevns Klint, on the Danish island of Sjaelland.  These fossil rich cliffs record the K/T boundary, (Cretaceous – Tertiary) and as a result, this site is extremely important to palaeontologists and geologists.  The cliffs have preserved an exceptional fossil record showing a complete succession of fauna and micro-fauna that charts the extinction event and the subsequent recovery of life on Earth.

An exceptional fossil record is visible at the site, showing the complete succession of fauna and micro-fauna charting the recovery after the mass extinction.  Tertiary aged limestone deposits overlie much softer, older Cretaceous chalk deposits.  Sandwiched between the two distinct rock types is a thin, ash grey coloured band with high levels of the rare Earth element iridium.  This is the ash layer that is associated with the Chicxulub impact event that occurred approximately 66 million years ago and marked the end of the dinosaurs and the extinction of something like 50% of all life.

The Picturesque Stevns Klint Cliffs (UNESCO World Heritage Site)

Geologically significant site awarded UNESCO World Heritage status.

Geologically significant site awarded UNESCO World Heritage status.

Picture Credit: UNESCO/Jacob Lautrup

This part of the Danish coast is a popular tourist destination, it lies twenty-five miles south of Copenhagen on the east coast of Sjaelland and many types of Cretaceous and Tertiary marine fossils can be seen at the local museum.  This site is one of three known in the world that exhibit the iridium anomaly, which helped form the basis of the extraterrestrial impact theory proposed by Walter and Louis Alvarez in 1980.

The K/T Boundary can be Made Out very Clearly

The K/T boundary is very clearly defined.

The K/T boundary is very clearly defined.

Picture Credit: UNESCO/Jacob Lautrup

The exposed succession is around forty-five metres thick and shows the stratigraphic evolution from Maastrichtian (Upper Cretaceous) across the K/T boundary into the very early Tertiary (Danian faunal stage of the Palaeogene).  A huge amount of research has been undertaken in this area.  Studies into the micro-fauna, palaeontology, geochemical changes, sediment deposition and sea level changes are just some of the research that has taken place recently.  The Stevns Klint locality is defined as the type location for the classification of the Danian faunal stage, it joins such famous fossil locations as the Jurassic Coast of East Devon and Dorset and the Messel Quarry near Frankfurt (Germany) as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Our congratulations to everyone involved in nominating this wonderful location.

Achievosaurs – Helping Foundation Stage Children

Learning  Skills with Dinosaurs – Achievosaurs

Team members at Everything Dinosaur, with their teaching and educational backgrounds have helped teachers and teaching assistants to develop all sorts of innovative learning materials for use in schools at the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS).  For example, a large number of schools rely on Everything Dinosaur to supply the soft toys used in the Achievosaurs learning concept.  However, as manufacturers change product lines so some of the soft toys used in the original scheme of work are no longer available.  Not to worry, as Everything Dinosaur specialises in dinosaur toys, the company has a huge range of inexpensive, soft toy dinosaurs to help teachers in the classroom.

Some of the Original Prehistoric Animal Soft Toys Used in the Achievosaurs Teaching Concept

Some of the original "Achievosaurs".

Some of the original “Achievosaurs”.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Children in Foundation Stage or Early Years education can gain important life lessons by being introduced to key learning skills at a young age.  Many schools include a drive to develop learning skills with students as part of a co-ordinated plan to improve life-long learning.  Essentially, the Achievosaurs, or as they are sometimes called “the Achieveosaurs”, with the extra “e”, aims to teach children about positive ways in which they can improve their ability to learn.  Qualities such as being persistent and not giving up too easily, being prepared to ask questions and to share thoughts and ideas.  The children are rewarded by being able to look after a dinosaur soft toy which epitomises the learning skill that they have just demonstrated.

Many schools adopt the Achievosaurs concept across all their classes in EYFS through to Key Stage 1, it often ties in with a term topic covered by the children in Year 1 and 2 which enables them to study dinosaurs and fossils.

Some of the key learning skills covered by the dinosaur soft toys in the Achievosaurs teaching concept:

  • ASKARAPTOR – I can use my imagination and ask interesting questions (based on a “raptor” dinosaur such as Velociraptor or Utahraptor regarded as some of the more intelligent and agile of all the dinosaurs)
  • SOLVEOSAURUS REX – I can solve problems and improve (based on T. rex the most famous dinosaur of all)
  • TRYCERATOPS – I try new things, don’t give up and work really hard (based on Triceratops, a very well known horned dinosaur with three horns)
  • STICKASAURUS  - I stick at tasks and persevere (based on Stegosaurus a popular, plant eating dinosaur with plates on its back)
  • THINKODOCUS – I think carefully about what I learn (based on the big, plant-eating dinosaur called Diplodocus)
  • SHAREOSAURUS – I share my ideas and can work well with others (based on the Spinosaurus)

These important skills can help prepare young minds for learning later on in life.  Teaching teams can come up with their on variants and new additions, however, the trouble is, finding soft toys that represent the likes of Diplodocus, Spinosaurus and Tyrannosaurus rex.  This is where are experts at Everything Dinosaur can help, they not only can advise about educational matters but guide teachers through our extensive range of prehistoric animal soft toys.

To view the range of prehistoric animal soft toys: Soft Toy Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals

In addition, when Everything Dinosaur supplies prehistoric animal soft toys, a fact sheet on the particular dinosaur represented by the plush is included.

A Download is Available from Everything Dinosaur on the Achievosaurs

Helping to encourage learning skills.

Helping to encourage learning skills.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

With the advice and support of Everything Dinosaur’s trained specialists, teachers can utilise a child’s fascination with prehistoric animals to help reinforce important lessons.  Enthusing and motivating children to learn by utilising dinosaur soft toys in school.

A spokes person for Everything Dinosaur commented:

“With all the workshops and teaching activities that we deliver in schools, it was only natural that teachers and learning support providers came to us to help develop innovative ways of getting important messages about learning across to children.”

To read more about Everything Dinosaur’s school workshops: Everything Dinosaur School Visits

Dinosaurs, Fossils, Extinction for Key Stages 3 and 4

Higher Order Thinking Skills Encouraged in Key Stages 3 and 4

Science remains at the core of the national curriculum for the United Kingdom.  Although there may be differences in the structure of the education systems in Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland, there is a strong emphasis on studying science subjects and with the new curriculum due to roll out in England from next September, the focus is on learning how to work scientifically.  The dinosaur and fossil themed workshops conducted by Everything Dinosaur have always attempted to demonstrate the links between observation, investigation, experimentation and evaluation.  Staff are busy preparing new lesson plans, specifically aimed at students in Year 7 and upwards.

Dinosaur, Extinction and Evolution (Key Stages 3 and 4)

Looking at the evolution of H. sapiens with Key Stage 3.

Looking at the evolution of H. sapiens with Key Stage 3.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

For Key Stage 3 for example, science teaching is now directed towards outcomes such as the encouragement of higher order thinking skills.  Students are encouraged to build on acquired knowledge learned in Key Stage 2 and to make connections between different areas of science.  At Everything Dinosaur, we use real aspects of palaeontology to explore key elements such as food chains, the interrelationships between living things, environmental change and extinction.

We aim to enthuse, motivate and engage, there are some fascinating and intriguing lesson plans and schemes of work coming together.

To learn more about our dinosaur workshops in schools: Dinosaur Workshops in School

Class 2T Learn About Fossils and Dinosaurs

Year 2 Pupils at Morecambe Primary School Study Dinosaurs

After a morning of dinosaur workshops working with children studying Key Stage 1, Everything Dinosaur set the pupils a challenge.  We had done our best to answer their questions as we explored fossils and prehistoric animals but inevitably there was not enough time to answer some of the questions that the children had prepared.  So with Mrs Todd’s and Miss Bolton’s permission (Year 2 teachers), a creative writing exercise was proposed. The children were challenged to write to the Everything Dinosaur offices telling us about their favourite dinosaur or prehistoric animal fact.  If they had a question, then this too could be sent into us for our dinosaur experts to have a look at.

A few days ago, we received a big pile of letters from the children in class two.  There was even a drawing of a fearsome looking monster on the back of the envelope that contained the children’s correspondence.

Colourful Envelope with Prehistoric Animal Drawing

Colourful drawing from school children.

Colourful drawing from school children.

Picture Credit: Class Two

There were certainly a lot of amazing questions contained in the letters and plenty of dinosaur facts as well.  Class 2 certainly enjoyed themselves, Billy, Alice B, Jack B, Ellie, Amy, Darcey, Jenny, Nathan, Freya and Zara all declared that they would like to become palaeontologists when they are older.  With over 1,200 different types of dinosaur having been discovered, I think we will be glad of their help.  The children had illustrated their letters with lots of beautiful drawings of prehistoric animals, we have posted some up onto our warehouse wall.

Zara Drew an Orange Coloured Dinosaur

A bright orange dinosaur.

A bright orange dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Zara (Class Two)

Whilst at the school, we met a budding scientist called Alexa so we told her and the rest of the class about a dinosaur that had a similar name to hers.  We discussed Alxasaurus and on return to the office we emailed over some further information about this particular dinosaur.  Gabby was pleased to hear about Alxasaurus and in answer to the question asked, scientists think that this dinosaur would have been about a metre taller than Mrs Cronshaw (teaching assistant).

Jasmine’s Letter Featured a Purple Long-Necked Dinosaur

A purple dinosaur by Jasmine.

A purple dinosaur by Jasmine.

Picture Credit:  Jasmine  (Class Two)

We had lots of prehistoric animal drawings to admire.  Adam drew some Ammonite shells and asked how old would the oldest T. rex be?  This is quite a tricky question, but palaeontologists think that the biggest Tyrannosaurus rex known, the dinosaur whose fossils can be seen in a museum in Chicago (USA), was probably around thirty years old when she died.  The biggest Tyrannosaurs probably reached lengths of around thirteen to fourteen metres, we hope this answers Alissia’s question.  Our thanks to Isaac who informed us that T. rex lived in North America.

The most popular question that we received was why do dinosaurs battle?  This question was asked by Hannah, Harry, Jack and Lawson.  Dinosaurs fighting can be seen in films and on television, although, like animals today, for much of the time, most dinosaurs kept themselves to themselves.  The carnivores would have hunted and attacked herbivores, whilst some herbivores like the horned dinosaurs may have fought amongst themselves to settle disputes in the herd.  Some meat-eating dinosaurs would have battled others of their own species in fights over resources such as territories or disputes over rights to claim a carcase of another dinosaur for a meal.  In most cases, when dinosaurs of the same species argued, it would have been rare for them to come to blows.  Usually, as with animals today most disputes were settled with displays before a fight.  Amongst most dinosaurs fighting one of their own species would have been very much a last resort – good question though.

Colourful Prehistoric Animals Drawn by Jack

Thanks for the labels Jack.

Thanks for the labels Jack.

Picture Credit: Jack (Class Two)

Kaylee asked how many bones in a Tyrannosaurus rex?  This is another tricky question, as since no complete fossilised skeleton of Tyrannosaurus rex has ever been found, nobody knows for sure.  A typical human body contains 206 bones, T. rex probably had more bones than we do, it may not have had as many fingers but it had belly ribs called gastralia which we do not and it had a lot of bones in its long tail, perhaps as many as forty.  The bones that it did have in its body were much larger than the equivalent bones found in a human being, after all, Tyrannosaurus rex was much bigger than us.

Kaylee’s Prehistoric Scene in Her Letter to Everything Dinosaur

A long-necked dinosaur.

A long-necked dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Kaylee (Class Two)

We also received questions about extinction.  Some children wanted to know how big was the space rock that crashed into Earth, scientists estimate that it was around ten kilometres (six miles) in diameter.  It was travelling at over thirty kilometres (eighteen miles) a second, that is quick enough to travel from Morecambe in Lancashire to Sydney in Australia in around five minutes.  Some of the very last dinosaurs to have lived were Tyrannosaurus rex, Triceratops and Edmontosaurus.  Questions about the space rock, its size and which were the last types of dinosaur were asked by Joe, Eve, Lydia and Alice T.W.

A big thank you to all the children for the letters, hopefully we have been able to answer them all.  A special thank you to Mrs McGowan, Mrs Cronshaw, Miss Bolton, Mrs Coulthard, Mrs Jackson and Miss Woodcock for their assistance during the dinosaur workshops.

Now it’s time to pop into the warehouse and pin some more pictures up onto the wall.

To learn about Everything Dinosaur’s prehistoric animal themed workshops in schools: Dinosaur Workshops in School

Questions We Get Asked

Frequently Asked Questions Page Completed

The FAQs (frequently asked questions) section of the new dinosaurs in school website being devised by Everything Dinosaur team members has been completed.  Banners have been prepared and uploaded and the text has now been added.  This is the latest part of the website to be finished and a spokesperson for the company stated that the project was on schedule with the list of typical questions that staff get asked added to the appropriate section of the new site.

One of the FAQs Banners Being Used on the New Website

New website nears completion.

New website nears completion.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Everything Dinosaur visits schools, museums, after school clubs, and youth groups to delivery innovative and very educational dinosaur and fossil themed workshops.  It seemed appropriate therefore, to feature both fossils and a little boy’s drawing of a dinosaur on the banner used as the featured image on the FAQs section of the new website.  These pages will provide a handy guide to those museum curators, scout group leaders and teaching staff who want to find out more about the teaching and educational services the team at Everything Dinosaur deliver.

The teaching staff always try to dove-tail their teaching work into the aims and objectives of the national curriculum whilst at the same time ensuring that the teaching is delivered in a fun, memorable and entertaining manner. Staff are away today carrying out a number of teaching sessions in Wales, working specifically with Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3 students.  Perhaps some examples of the work of these students as they study rocks, fossils and evolution will be included on Everything Dinosaur’s new website dedicated to teaching about prehistoric life.

How to Identify Which Fossil Find is Which

Sorting out Fossil Finds Dinosaur Excavation Kits

The fossil finds dinosaur excavation kits that Everything Dinosaur supplies are certainly very popular.  These kits include a digging tool, so that young dinosaur fans can excavate their own plastic dinosaur skeleton and experience what it is like to be a real palaeontologist.  The digging tool included is very similar to one we actually use ourselves when working around fossil bone.  There are four different types of dinosaur skeleton to collect. They are Tyrannosaurus rex, Velociraptor, Stegosaurus and Triceratops.

 Everything Dinosaur Fossil Finds

Everything Dinosaur creates a banner to promote Fossil Finds.

Everything Dinosaur creates a banner to promote Fossil Finds.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

These dinosaur fossil inspired kits are very popular with teachers who use them as teaching resources in schools as well as with mums and dads who use them at dinosaur themed party gifts.  The square packaging makes them ideal for use in a pass the parcel game at a dinosaur inspired birthday party. However, the packaging on all four of the kits looks very similar and our team members at Everything Dinosaur thought it would be a good idea if we published a handy guide to identify which kit is which.

All the kits look the same from the front, this can lead to confusion as purchasers may not be sure which dinosaur fossil find they have.

A View of the Front of the Fossil Finds Packaging

Although there are four different dinosaur fossil finds in the series they all look the same from the front.

Although there are four different dinosaur fossil finds in the series they all look the same from the front.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

All the fronts of the boxes feature a Tyrannosaurus rex themed fact.  The fact states that this apex predator probably ate around seventy-five kilogrammes of meat a day, the equivalent of 1,500 sausages.  Customers of Everything Dinosaur might think that all the fossil finds that they have bought feature the same skeleton inside.  All is not lost, here is how to determine which dinosaur is actually in each kit.

To determine which fossil find excavation kit you have, turn the box over and look at the back.  In the bottom corner above the product’s bar code, the name of the dinosaur featured inside will be shown.

Turn the Kit over and Look at the Printing on the Back

The name of the dinosaur whose skeleton is featured in the kit can be seen just above the bar code.

The name of the dinosaur whose skeleton is featured in the kit can be seen just above the bar code.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

We have highlighted in red where the dinosaur’s name is printed.  All the kits have similar printing on the back of the box too, but the name of the dinosaur featured should be clearly displayed.

There is another way to check, if you look on the top of the box, illustrations of the four dinosaur skeletons in this series are shown.  There should be a tick or mark in the circle next to the skeleton illustration to indicate which dinosaur is in the kit, although we at Everything Dinosaur recommend you check the printing on the back of the box as sometimes this “check mark” is difficult to make out.

The Top of the Box Should Provide Guidance as to Which Dinosaur is in Each Kit

A tick or mark in the white circle identifies the dinosaur skeleton in the box.

A tick or mark in the white circle identifies the dinosaur skeleton in the box.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

In the picture above we have highlighted the “check mark” area to help customers find the information they are looking for.

To view the range of educational prehistoric animal themed skeleton kits available from Everything Dinosaur: Fossil Finds Dinosaur Excavation Kit Collection

All the kits we supply in this fossil finds range are sent out with a dinosaur fact sheet which provides more information about the dinosaur the kit represents.  Hopefully, this article will help our customers to sort out which fossil find kit is which and save any confusion when preparing a lesson plan for use in school or when getting ready for a dinosaur themed birthday party or some other event.

Hoylandswaine Primary School Send in Thank You Letters

Year 1 and Year 2 Show Off their Writing Skills

Last month, a team member at Everything Dinosaur visited Hoylandswaine Primary School to help teach about dinosaurs and fossils as the Year 1 and Year 2 students had spent a good portion of their term learning all about prehistoric animals.

Under the guidance of Miss Birkinshaw, the teacher and with the support of Mrs Burr (teaching assistant), the school children had been studying how fossils are formed, the life of Mary Anning, dinosaurs and the extinction event at the end of the Cretaceous.  The enthusiastic, young palaeontologists had even had a go at making their own fossils and creating their own dinosaur dig site in the classroom.  Our dinosaur expert felt very much at home surrounded by all the artwork and posters showing dinosaur facts and figures that the children had made.

At the end of the morning’s teaching, the Everything Dinosaur team member challenged the children to write a thank you letter.  Could they start their letter correctly?  Could they include a dinosaur fact or perhaps tell us about their favourite part of the morning’s dinosaur themed activities?  Would they use connectives, proper sentences, could they think of a way of ending their letter?

Having returned from some fieldwork, there was a bulging postal sack waiting in the office and amongst all our correspondence was a set of thank you letters from Hoylandswaine Primary.

Thank you Letter Received from Jacob

Jacob loved learning all about Spinosaurus.

Jacob loved learning all about Spinosaurus.

Picture Credit: Hoylandswaine Primary Year 1/2 – Jacob

One of the many thank you letters received by Everything Dinosaur, young Jacob has illustrated his letter with some three-toed dinosaur footprints.

Gracie’s Thank You Letter to Everything Dinosaur

Gracie's favourite thing was learning all about giant sharks.

Gracie’s favourite thing was learning all about giant sharks.

Picture Credit: Hoylandswaine Primary Year 1/2 – Gracie

Gracie chose to illustrate her letter with pictures of dinosaurs and a marine reptile swimming in the sea.  We had lots of colourful letters and we have posted them all up onto our huge warehouse wall so that we can look at them and smile whilst we are sorting out fossils and working on our dinosaurs.

Thank you Letter Sent in by Katie

"Amazing fossils"

“Amazing fossils”

Picture Credit: Hoylandswaine Primary Year 1/2 – Katie

A very big thank you to all the children who sent us thank you letters, there are too many to post up here but we have put them all up onto our warehouse wall.  Miss Birkinshaw even got in on the act and sent us a short note to thank Everything Dinosaur for their morning’s teaching work at the school.

Teacher’s Thank You Note

"The children really did have a fantastic morning."

“The children really did have a fantastic morning.”

Picture Credit: Hoylandswaine Primary Year 1/2 – Miss Birkinshaw

Setting a creative writing exercise such as this, is very worthwhile.  Often it can be difficult for the teaching team to motivate the children to write, but this follow up exercise enables the teacher to assess a child’s writing and reading progress as well as testing recall and how the pupil conveys information.  At Everything Dinosaur we always follow up letters we receive and we send out a reply to the school so that the children can learn a little more about the work we do and what we have been doing since our school visit.

Once again, our thanks to all the children in Year 1 and Year 2 who sent in thank you letters.

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

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