Category: Teaching

Washington State 37th U.S. State with a Dinosaur?

 Which States in the USA Don’t Have Dinosaur Fossils?

Everything Dinosaur’s recent article on the describing of a dinosaur fossil bone found on Sucia Island (Washington State) set team members thinking.  The fossil, which is believed to represent the partial left femur of a tyrannosaurid was the first dinosaur bone to be scientifically described from Washington State.  A number of media sites and scientific publications that covered this story listed Washington State as the latest and thirty-seventh U.S. State to have had dinosaur fossils discovered within its boundaries.  Of the fifty States that make up the USA, more than two-thirds of them are associated with the Dinosauria, either body or trace fossils or both.

The Partial Left Femur Identified as Tyrannosaur Fossil

Details of the partial left femur.

Details of the partial left femur.

Picture Credit: PLOS One with additional annotation by Everything Dinosaur

To read Everything Dinosaur’s article on the fossil discovery: The First Dinosaur Fossil Described from Washington State

So what about the remaining thirteen States in America, those inferred not to have dinosaur fossils?  Is this a case of there being none found as yet or does the fossil discovery in Washington State represent, in all likelihood, the last State in the United States to be added to the “dinosaur club”?

Let’s look at this in a little more detail.

Which States Don’t Contain Dinosaur Fossils?

Identifying the thirteen States* that don’t contain dinosaur fossils is quite a tough ask for a company this side of the Atlantic.  However, team members at Everything Dinosaur have been putting their heads together and have come up with the following list (which may or may not be accurate).

    1. Hawaii – the Hawaiian archipelago was the fiftieth and most recent State to join the USA.  As it is almost entirely made up of volcanic rock (igneous) and since it is a relatively recent geological feature, probably less than six million years old, we can state with confidence that no dinosaur fossil material will be found in the island’s rock formations.  That’s the easiest one out of the way.
    2. Florida – the “Sunshine State” it might attract millions of tourists but there are very probably no dinosaur fossils to be found.  The landmass we know as Florida today did not form in the Mesozoic.
    3. Louisiana – in the north-western portion of the State, there are some small outcrops of marine shales that were deposited in the Late Cretaceous.  As far as we know, no dinosaur fossils have been associated with this strata (located around Bienville Parish).  It is extremely unlikely that dinosaur fossils could be found in Louisiana, but it could happen.
    4. Mississippi** – the Mississippi river and delta deposits are far to recent to provide the opportunity to find dinosaur fossils.  However, in the far north-east of the State there are small exposed areas of Upper Cretaceous aged marine deposits, predominately chalk.  As far as we know no dinosaur fossils have been found and it is extremely unlikely, however, if you were to go and look, try around Ponotoc and Union Counties – we wish you luck.  South-east USA sorted (we think).
    5. West Virginia – moving up the eastern seaboard of the United States, the next candidate is West Virginia.  As far as we know at Everything Dinosaur, there are no sedimentary rocks dating from the Mesozoic to be found in this State, erosion and other forces have removed them, therefore no dinosaur fossils.
    6. Rhode Island – the smallest State in the USA.  Triassic and Jurassic sedimentary deposits are absent (we think), very few Cretaceous outcrops present, so no dinosaur fossils.
    7. New Hampshire – erosion of sedimentary materials and intrusions of igneous and metamorphic rocks leaves virtually no Mesozoic aged sedimentary formations in the State.  We don’t think any dinosaur fossils have been found here.
    8. Vermont – Triassic and Jurassic aged sediments eroded away and very little Cretaceous aged deposits exposed.   All of these Cretaceous deposits not fossiliferous, so no dinosaur fossils as far as we know discovered in Vermont.
    9. Maine – in the far north-east of the United States there is a huge gap in the geological record with most Late Palaeozoic, Mesozoic and Cenozoic fossils eroded away (blame the glaciers and so forth).  As a result, once again, as far as we know dinosaur fossils recorded from the State of Maine = zero.  So that’s the eastern seaboard and the far north-east taken care off.
    10. Michigan – still in the Eastern Time Zone, but no dinosaur fossils have been found on either peninsula that make up this State.  Lots of invertebrates et al, but no dinosaurs (we think).
    11. Ohio – thanks to glaciation and other forms or erosion, Mesozoic aged sedimentary rocks are virtually absent.  Dinosaurs did probably roam in this part of the world but their fossils have long since be eroded away.
    12. Indiana – just like its eastern neighbour Ohio, blame the glaciers for the loss of the Mesozoic strata.  So no dinosaur fossils in Indiana either, but just like in Ohio, they did probably live in this neck of the woods.
    13. Kentucky – south of Indiana to the “Bluegrass State”.  As far as we can work out from our own notes, there are few Mesozoic rocks exposed (eroded away no doubt).  Some Cretaceous aged outcrops are present and we have some tentative notes of plant fossils from the Cretaceous, but alas, no evidence of the Dinosauria.  Hold on a minute, that should be it, but we still have some more States to go.
    14. Illinois – into the Central Time Zone but just like its eastern neighbour Indiana, erosion has led to the removal of much of the Mesozoic strata.  Some Cretaceous-aged deposits can be found in the south of this State, but as far as we know, although dinosaurs may have lived in this part of the world there is no fossil evidence for them.
    15. Wisconsin – substantial erosion has removed the dinosaur fossil bearing strata, so according to our notes and database, there are no dinosaur fossils associated with the State of Wisconsin.

States in America with Dinosaur Fossils (2015)

Dinosaur Fossils by U.S.State.

Dinosaur Fossils by U.S. State.

Picture Credit: Wikipedia Commons (map) Everything Dinosaur (annotations)

According to our research, the figure of thirteen U.S. States not having dinosaur fossils associated with them is inaccurate. Of course, our own database could be wrong but we make it fifteen States without any evidence of the Dinosauria.  Thanks to mountain building, glaciation, the construction of huge urban developments and the fact that parts of the United States simply did not exist during the time of the dinosaurs, these are the States that lack any dinosaur fossils.

We admit, we could have got this wrong and we would welcome any comments to help provide a more accurate picture.

Additional Notes

Thanks to J. Slattery for helping with this, we have received information about Late Cretaceous dinosaur fossils from Mississippi**.  It seems that in some uncovered outcrops of Upper Cretaceous age which represents shallow marine deposits, fragmentary dinosaur fossils (teeth and bones) have been found as a result of what we tend to call “bloat and float”.  A dinosaur carcase being washed out to sea and then being scavenged before sinking and settlement.

My First Toy Dinosaurs Model Set

My First Toy Dinosaurs Model Set (6 Rubber Dinosaurs)

Great for imaginative, creative play, a set of six rubber dinosaurs from Everything Dinosaur.  An ideal gift for the young dinosaur fan in your family or as a play set for use in schools.  The set of six dinosaur models includes a Tyrannosaurus rex, a long-necked Brachiosaurus, the plated dinosaur Stegosaurus, along with a bright and colourful duck-billed dinosaur, a Parasaurolophus.  The set also includes a horned dinosaur (Triceratops) and a wonderful armoured dinosaur, an Ankylosaurus.  This set of soft rubber dinosaurs makes an ideal my first dinosaurs model set as these prehistoric animals are suitable for children from three years and upwards.

My First Toy Dinosaurs Model Set (6 Rubber Dinosaurs)

A set of six rubber dinosaurs, great for tactile play.

A set of six rubber dinosaurs, great for tactile play.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The teaching team at Everything Dinosaur have specially chosen this toy dinosaurs set as the models represent typical examples of dinosaurs and show the variety of these ancient reptiles that once roamed our planet.  The models are made from soft rubber and they are great for imaginative, tactile play.

To view the range of educational dinosaur toys available from Everything Dinosaur: Dinosaur Toys including Rubber Dinosaur Toys

This really is a super set of soft and squeezy rubber dinosaurs.  The set makes an ideal, my first dinosaur model set for any young dinosaur fan.  They are a great way for young minds to explore materials and discover the world of dinosaurs.

One of our customers wrote this review:

“Loved the colourful models, six different ones that my little boy just loves.  A great first dinosaur  model set.  Soft and squeezy rubber dinosaurs, very well made.”

Thanks for your review Mrs Jacobs.

Everything Dinosaur supplies a set of useful dinosaur fact sheets about the animals featured in this set.  This is a great dinosaur themed resource for schools.

Would a Dinosaur Make a Good Pet?

Year 2 at St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School Consider a Pet Dinosaur

Children in Year 2 at St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School (Matlock, Derbyshire), have been tackling the tricky question of would dinosaurs make good pets?  This poser is one of the questions being explored as part of a series of themes for the summer term.  So far the children have learned about dinosaur eggs and taken part in some outdoor measuring activities under the guidance of their enthusiastic teacher Miss Sutcliffe.  It’s a good job the school has a large playground, especially when it comes to working out how tall a Brachiosaurus was.

Brachiosaurus was one of the largest of the dinosaurs, a huge plant-eater, fossils of which have been found in Upper Jurassic rocks.  The children estimated that a twelve metre tall Brachiosaurus would be the same height as nineteen Year 2 children.  This is a super exercise and certainly helps children gain an appreciation of the size and scale of some of the biggest dinosaurs.

One of the Biggest Dinosaurs of the Late Jurassic

A typical Brachiosaur.

A typical Brachiosaur.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Trouble is, Brachiosaurus (the name means “Arm Lizard” as the forelimbs were larger than the back legs), was not the tallest of the Dinosauria.  As more fossils have been found so different contenders for the “tallest dinosaur “accolade are proposed.  One contender, known from four neck bones and a handful of other fossil specimens found in rocks dating from the Early Cretaceous of the United States, is Sauroposeidon (the name means “Earthquake Lizard”).  Sauroposeidon is pronounced sore-oh-poh-sigh-don.  One of the neck bones measures 1.4 metres long, that is taller than most of the Year 2 children at the school.

Size estimates for Sauroposeidon do vary.  With so few fossils to study, it is difficult to work out just how tall, or indeed just how long or how heavy this dinosaur was.  Palaeontologists are not even sure if Sauroposeidon had the same basic body shape of Brachiosaurus.  However, if it did, then it could have been around 18-20 metres tall.

Sauroposeidon Compared to Brachiosaurus

Scaling up Sauroposeidon and comparing it to Brachiosaurus and an extant African elephant.

Scaling up Sauroposeidon and comparing it to Brachiosaurus and an extant African elephant.

If nineteen Year 2 children are as tall as a twelve metre high Brachiosaurus, then can the class work out how many of them would be needed to be the same height as a twenty metre tall Sauroposeidon?

Miss Sutcliffe and her teaching assistant have certainly developed a challenging and engaging scheme of work for the class.  The dinosaur workshop we conducted certainly helped as we were able to answer the children’s questions and some of those questions were quite challenging.  For example, we were asked how did dinosaurs chew bones?  Fortunately, some of the fossils we had with us were useful in demonstrating how some types of dinosaur ate.

The spacious and well-organised classroom had lots of dinosaur themed displays.  We were informed that after our visit the children would be designing a habitat for their dinosaurs.  This links nicely into the English national curriculum as this enables the children to learn about living creatures and what they need to survive.  Perhaps the children can compare the world of the dinosaurs with habitats seen today and the types of animals that exist in those habitats.   It was pleasing to note that Year 2 had a good grasp of the terminology related to ecosystems and food chains.  For example, the children were able to explain all about omnivores.  Our cast of the lower jaw of a Pachycephalosaur (Dracorex hogwartsia), proved useful when it came to explaining about animals that ate both meat and plants.  Dracorex might make a good pet dinosaur, it would have helped keep the school’s vegetable garden pest free, but a downside might be that it would be tempted to eat all the flowers!

A Colourful Dinosaur Themed Display in the Classroom

St Joseph's Catholic Primary School (Year 2) dinosaur display.

St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School (Year 2) dinosaur display.

Picture Credit: Year 2/Everything Dinosaur

We set the class a number of challenges as part of the extension ideas and activities we discussed with Miss Sutcliffe and we look forward to hearing how the children get on as they explore all things dinosaur for their summer term topic.

Retracing the Beak of Birds to the Snout of Dinosaurs

Reverse Genetic Engineering to Produce a Dinosaur Snout

A team of scientists based in the United States have tweaked the developmental processes that take place in chicken embryos to re-engineer the snouts of their dinosaur ancestors.  The research team led by University of Yale palaeontologist, Bhart-Anjan S. Bhullar and developmental biologist Arhat Abzhanov (Harvard University), have produced the first bird embryos that possess a snout similar to a dinosaur’s nose rather than a beak.  The chicken embryos developed palatial bones and a jaw configuration that resembles that seen in the fossil record, specifically in the Dromaeosauridae, a group of dinosaurs that are closely related to modern Aves.  The Dromaeosaurs, sometimes referred to as the “raptors” belong to the Sub-order Theropoda.  They are part of a clade of agile dinosaurs that reduced their tails, lost their teeth and evolved into Aves (birds).  Typical dromaeosaurids are Velociraptor, Deinonychus and the recently named Saurornitholestes sullivani.

To read an article about the newly described Saurornitholestes sullivaniSniffing Out a New Dinosaur Species

As the Yale University press release states: “Just don’t call them Dino-chickens!”

Tweaking the Beak from Dromaeosaurs to Modern Birds

From the Dinosauria (left) to the beaks of modern Aves (right).

From the Dinosauria (left) to the beaks of modern Aves (right).

Picture Credit: John Conway

The scientists were not in the business of trying to create a living dinosaur.  Manipulation of chicken embryos has taken place for several years, all part of research to help the understanding of how molecular processes affect the development of organisms.

Commenting on this research, which has just been published in the journal “Evolution”, lead author Dr. Bhart-Anjan S. Bhullar (Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Yale) stated:

“Our goal here was to understand the molecular underpinnings of an important evolutionary transition, not to create a “dino-chicken” simply for the sake of it.”

For the young doctor, this is all part of his on-going research into cranial development in very young animals.  It is not part of a concerted effort to bring back the Dinosauria, a sort of “Jurassic Park from the embryo upwards”, as explained by a spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur.

There are a huge variety of bird beaks, from the curved, tearing and cutting beaks of eagles, to the sophisticated sieves of flamingos.  The beak is an essential component of avian anatomy and the researchers are trying to unravel how the beak evolved from its reptilian ancestry.  A quantitative analysis of fossils closely associated with the origins of birds was undertaken along with a study of extant animals including lizards, crocodiles and birds.  This examination allowed the scientists to develop a hypothesis as to how the bird beak may have evolved from the Dinosauria and the developmental stages that were involved.

The team identified that both major living lineages of birds, the abundant Neognathae (which includes virtually all species of extant birds) and the much rarer  Palaeognathae (which comprises the Tinamou family of birds from South and Central America plus the flightless ratites – cassowary, ostrich, kiwi, rhea, for example), differ from reptiles that are not closely related to birds and from mammals in that they have a unique, median gene expression zone of two different facial development genes early in embryonic development.  This median gene expression had previously only been identified in chicken embryos.

Turning Back the Evolutionary Clock

In order to have an embryo revert to its ancestral state, before the beak as it were, the gene expression for beak formation in the young chicken had to be turned off.  Microscopic beads coated in a molecule inhibiting substance were used to inhibit the activity of the proteins produced by the bird specific, median signalling zone in the chicken embryos.  This led the embryo to revert back to its reptilian ancestry with a more dinosaur-like snout forming and surprisingly, the palatine bone in the root of the mouth was also altered.

Changing the Faces of Embryos (Modified Chicken Embryo with Snout)

Normal chick (left), modified chicken embryo (centre), alligator embryo (right)

Normal chick (left), modified chicken embryo (centre), alligator embryo (right)

Picture Credit: Evolution

Dr. Bhullar was surprised by the additional changes seen in the palatine bone, he stated:

“This was unexpected and demonstrates the way in which a single, simple developmental mechanism can have wide-ranging and unexpected effects.”

Commenting on the research, Professor Michael Benton (Bristol University), someone who knows a great deal about bird evolution, explained that this new study shows that the beak of birds develops very different from the snouts, noses and jaws of reptiles.  A different set of genes are involved.

He stated:

“That’s what proves the beak is a real adaptation or “thing”, not just a slightly different nose shape”

Why Beaks?

Intriguingly, although the fossil record for bird evolution is far from complete, the fantastically well preserved bird fossils of Lower Cretaceous deposits from China, specimens of Confuciusornis for instance, show that by around 125 million years ago the toothless beak had evolved.  Why the beak came about remains a point of significant debate, however, one of the most often cited reasons for a lighter, toothless structure is that as birds became more efficient fliers and spent more time in the air, the loss of a heavy, bony jaw lined with teeth was just one of a number of anatomical adaptations that occurred to help improve powered flight.

The “Early Bird” Confuciusornis sanctus from China

Confuciusornis sanctus a primitive bird but it had a beak.

Confuciusornis sanctus a primitive bird but it had a beak.

The American based researchers are confident that their work has important implications for other geneticists and for palaeontologists.  For example, if a single molecular mechanism was responsible for this transformation, there should be a corresponding, linked transformation in the fossil record.  The flightless, man-sized Hesperornis, a genus of prehistoric bird known from the Late Cretaceous of North America could demonstrate that link.

An Illustration of Hesperornis (Traditional View)

Hesperornis catching a fish.

Hesperornis catching a fish.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur/Brooke Bond

Dr. Bhullar said:

“This is borne out by the fact that Hesperornis, discovered by Othniel Charles Marsh of the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, which is a near relative of modern birds that still retains teeth and the most primitive stem avian with a modern-looking beak in the form of a fused, elongate premaxillae, also possesses a modern bird palatine bone.”

The premaxillae are the bones that form the tip of the upper jaw (anterior portion) of most animals, but are enlarged and fused to form the beak of birds.

Moving forward, the quantitative analysis to establish a proposed hypothetical developmental path of a lineage of animals which could be tested by inhibiting the behaviour of proteins in embryos can be probably be used to investigate a wide range of underlying developmental mechanisms in organisms.

The dinosaur/bird link is now well established, a theory once proposed by the likes of Henry Govier Seeley back in the 1880′s is widely accepted.  Back in 2013, Everything Dinosaur reported on research from an international team of scientists, including researchers from the Royal Veterinary College (London), that looked at how the posture of birds was derived from the gait of small, cursorial dinosaurs.

To read more about this study: The Birds Have the Dinosaurs to Thank for their Crouching Gait

Everything Dinosaur notes the support of Yale University in the compilation of this article.

Great Work from Great Wood Primary School

Year 2 Learn All About Dinosaurs in the Great Outdoors

It was certainly an interesting morning when Everything Dinosaur visited the two classes of Year 2 at Great Wood Primary School (Morecambe).  The children had just started learning all about prehistoric animals as part of their term topic “Jurassic Forest”.  One of our fossil experts visited the school as part of the planned scheme of work to help inspire and enthuse children and teachers alike.  Unfortunately, the fire alarm sounded part way through the first session and the whole school had to be evacuated.

However, it was a sunny day, so undaunted, we were able to continue by moving everything outside.  With the minimum of fuss, the pupils in Mrs Parkin’s class settled themselves down in the playground  and we were able to deliver a second workshop.   Everything Dinosaur’s “Dinosaur Mike” challenged the two classes (2T with Mrs Todd and 2P with Mrs Parkin), to send in thank you letters as part of an agreed extension activity to help encourage the children with their composition and sure enough, at the end of last week, we received a large envelope which contained letters and some very colourful dinosaur drawings.

 A Wonderful Set of Letters Sent in by Year 2

Letters and drawings sent in by children at Great Wood Primary.

Letters and drawings sent in by children at Great Wood Primary.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur/Great Wood Primary School

Writing a thank you letter to Everything Dinosaur is a good way for the teaching team to check learning following a recount activity.  This composition exercise helps young learners practice sentence sequencing, planning their writing, as well as spelling and the layout and format of a letter.  The children can also read their letters out aloud as part of a further teaching activity within the class.

Examples of Thank You Letters Received by Everything Dinosaur

Super examples of letter writing from the children.

Super examples of letter writing from the children.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur/Great Wood Primary School

Thank you Eva and Zak for your lovely letters.

Some children had taken the opportunity to draw pictures of fossils and prehistoric animals on the back of their thank you letters.  We were impressed with the drawings and we shall pin some of these up onto our warehouse notice board.

Year Two Sent in some Colourful Drawings

Can you spot the Ammonites?

Can you spot the Ammonites?

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Super writing from Izzy and Mae with two lovely drawings too.

So Many Letters for Us to Read!

An example of one of the letters we received, thank you Dylan.

An example of one of the letters we received, thank you Dylan.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Dinosaur Mike commented:

“Once it was realised that the fire alarm going off was due to building work being undertaken around the school, the teaching team and administration staff at Great Wood Primary soon got all the children organised.  After the fire drill procedures had been carried out, we were able to continue the dinosaur themed workshop outside.  Fortunately, it was sunny and not too cold.  We were able to adjust our lesson plan and continue working.  We do appreciate that, just like the teachers, we sometimes have to be very flexible.”

Nina’s Very Bright and Cheerful Thank You Letter

We were sent lots of very colourful letters.

We were sent lots of very colourful letters.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Nina asked “How long did the dinosaurs last?”  The first dinosaurs evolved perhaps as early as 240 million years ago, the last of the Dinosauria died out 65 million years ago.  That’s a really good question, well done Nina.

Our thanks to 2T and 2P for sending us some wonderful examples of writing.

Dinosaur Day at Yew Tree Primary

Key Stage 1 Study Dinosaurs

A busy day yesterday working with Year 1 and Year 2 classes at Yew Tree Community Primary School in Tameside.  Arriving nice and early our dinosaur expert was able to have a chat to the teaching team to gain an appreciation of the learning objectives and to ensure that the dinosaur workshops dove-tailed into the overall scheme of work.  Like many primary schools, Yew Tree Community has experienced a big increase in pupil numbers in recent years and Key Stage 1 is made up of five classes, so in order to maximise the amount of teaching, the school hall was used for the day (apart when lunch was served and then it was a question of dinner with the dinosaurs).

The Children were Keen to Show the “Dinosaur Eggs” They had Discovered

Very colourful "dinosaur eggs".

Very colourful “dinosaur eggs”.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The dedicated teaching team had developed an exciting range of activities, all part of the dinosaur term topic.  The photographs taken during the dinosaur workshops will certainly support the teaching work, with lots of recounting and recalling.  During the lunch break, Everything Dinosaur’s workshop leader saw some lovely examples of creative writing undertaken by Year 1, the children had certainly been inspired by the fossils.  After a busy day of teaching, it was straight back to the office to email over further materials and extension resources for use in a number of activities that we had planned with the teaching team during the course of the day.

With the first part of the Summer Term quite short, there is a lot to pack in so it was important to get the extension materials emailed over to the school as quickly as we could.

To contact Everything Dinosaur to learn more about our work in schools: Email Everything Dinosaur

Plastic Dinosaur Skeleton Models – Great for Creative Play

Plastic Dinosaur Skeletons from Everything Dinosaur

A term topic on dinosaurs for Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) can provide a number of opportunities for young minds to develop through creative play.  Most children are fascinated by dinosaurs and prehistoric animals and Everything Dinosaur team members often get asked by teachers and teaching assistants for ideas on how to stimulate the class when the children have been learning about dinosaurs.  We recommend a wide range of tactile activities to help young learners explore the nature of materials and the wider world.  For example, this set of twelve plastic prehistoric animal skeletons gives the children the chance to play at being a palaeontologist.

Prehistoric Animal Skeleton Set Available from Everything Dinosaur

A set of assorted prehistoric animal and dinosaur skeletons.

A set of assorted prehistoric animal and dinosaur skeletons.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

These robust, plastic skeleton models represent a number of very well known dinosaurs.  Prehistoric creatures such as Triceratops, Stegosaurus and Brachiosaurus.  There are even some meat-eating dinosaurs and a Pterosaur (Pteranodon), in this twelve figure set.  We bury these models in the sand pit play area at the school and invite the children to excavate their own dinosaur fossils using paint brushes and plastic spades.  This is a fun activity  and the addition of a couple of magnifying glasses so that the children can examine the bones helps the pupils to feel like scientists.  These models can also be used in the wet play area as children explore which objects float.  They are a wonderful resource for Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS plastic dinosaur skeletons).

Use the Models to Make Impressions Just Like Fossils

Showing how fossils form.

Showing how fossils form.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

By pressing these study models into modelling clay the children can learn how fossils form and they can have a go at making fossils for themselves.  Each of these little models is around ten centimetres in length and as there are twelve in the series they are very useful when it comes to playing sorting and counting games, for example:

  • Sort out all the skeletons of animals that have horns
  • Group the skeletons into those that walk on four legs and those that walk on just two
  • Split the plant-eaters from the meat-eaters – can you work out which is which?

The models have a remarkable level of detail on them, the children can easily work out which model is which.  The other day, a five-year-old pointed out the Dimetrodon (not a dinosaur) to us.  We were most impressed!

To view the range of educational products available from Everything Dinosaur including these skeleton models: Educational Dinosaur Themed Learning Resources from Everything Dinosaur

We Even Used Our Dinosaur Skeletons to Make Footprints

A cheap but very effective learning resource.

A cheap but very effective learning resource.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To see the full range of educational toys, games and models that Everything Dinosaur offers: Everything Dinosaur

Providing Prehistoric Animal Drawing Materials for Foundation Stage 2

EYFS Create an Underwater Prehistoric Scene

A recent trip to a primary school to conduct a dinosaur workshop resulted in a request from one of the teaching assistants.  They had lots of blue crepe paper and they wanted to create a prehistoric scene that could be posted up onto the walls of the corridor outside the classroom for Foundation Stage 2.  However, she had not got any pictures of “sea monsters”, (her words not ours), for the children to colour in to help create the picture.  No worries, amongst all the other extension resources we supplied, we sent over a number of emails with fact sheets and drawings of a vast array of prehistoric creatures which were typical fauna of Jurassic marine environments.

Providing Pictures of the Plesiosauria to Primary Schools

Plesiosaurs and other prehistoric animals featured in the picture.

Plesiosaurs and other prehistoric animals featured in the picture.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

We sent over pictures which included:

  • Jellyfish
  • Ammonites
  • Belemnites
  • Coelacanth (fish)
  • Ichthyosaurus
  • Mixosaurus (another type of Ichthyosaur)
  • Attenborosaurus (Pliosaur)
  • Liopleurodon (Pliosaur)

Lots of other prehistoric animal pictures were also sent over.  We even supplied the teaching team with an outline of a seascape that could be used as a back drop as the children in Foundation Stage 2 explored a prehistoric, undersea world.

For information on Everything Dinosaur’s work in schools and to contact our experts for a school visit quotation: Request a Quotation for a School Visit (UK only)

Dinosaurs Help the Focus on Writing at Mead Primary School

Lions, Zebras and Giraffes Learn All About Dinosaurs

Children in the Reception classes at Mead Primary in Romford (Essex, south-east England), have been learning all about dinosaurs and prehistoric animals this term.  The children discovered a giant egg in each of the three Reception classrooms (Lions, Zebras and Giraffes) and with the support of their enthusiastic teaching team, the children were encouraged to write letters to one of the dinosaur experts at Everything Dinosaur so that these strange objects could be investigated.  The discovery of the eggs is all part of a coordinated approach to help motivate and enthuse the pupils when it comes to writing.  Our dinosaur expert who visited the school, was shown some wonderful examples of the children’s work including some of the invitation letters that were on display.

One of the Eggs Discovered in the Classroom

What will happen when it hatches?

What will happen when it hatches?

Picture Credit: Mead Primary School/Everything Dinosaur

 There were lots of colourful dinosaur themed displays in the classrooms and outside in the corridor which links the Key Stage 1 classes to the rest of this, larger than average, primary school.

One of the Bright and Colourful Prehistoric Animal Themed Displays

Lots of different dinosaurs on display.

Lots of different dinosaurs on display.

Picture Credit: Mead Primary School/Everything Dinosaur

The children had been designing their own dinosaurs and there were lots of examples of hand-writing too, including some very informative fact books that the pupils had made.  The volcano in the picture had been made using fabric with coloured tissue paper as the lava, this was just one example of the use of lots of different materials and media having been incorporated into the scheme of work.  The dinosaur workshops that were delivered continued the focus on writing and vocabulary development, with the visitor challenging the children to come up with lots of describing words for the fossils and other objects that they handled.  The Foundation Stage Two children certainly knew their dinosaurs and they were keen to demonstrate their acquired knowledge.  Prior to the visit to the school by Everything Dinosaur, the teachers had encouraged the children to think of questions to ask, the budding palaeontologists had come up with a super assortment of queries.  For all those questions not answered on the day, our expert suggested a couple of writing themed extension activities to help support the classes with their enquiries.

Some of the Questions That the Children had Come up With

Questions, questions and even more questions!

Questions, questions and even more questions!

Picture Credit: Mead Primary School/Everything Dinosaur

To help the children understand how most fossils are formed our expert discussed a simple experiment the children could conduct using the water play area.  This extension activity also dove-tailed nicely into an exploration of the properties of materials in which children investigate why some objects float whilst others sink.  Dinosaurs make a great topic for primary school children to study.  The children clearly enjoyed learning all about prehistoric animals and we look forward to hearing how they got on with the dinosaur footprint measuring exercise we provided.  One of the aims of the teaching scheme of work for next week is to help the children gain a little more confidence in measuring and using numbers, the footprint exercise we provided will help the teaching team to achieve their learning objectives, providing the children with a dinosaur themed activity in support of their numeracy development.

Inspiring Displays with Lots of Evidence of Learning

Lots of examples of hand-writing on display.

Lots of examples of hand-writing on display.

Picture Credit: Mead Primary School/Everything Dinosaur

One of the classrooms even had its very own dinosaur museum.   The teachers had been inspired by the topic to come up with some very creative lesson plans and the children were clearly inspired by all things dinosaur!

To request further information on Everything Dinosaur’s work in schools: Dinosaur Workshops in Schools

The Achievosaurs – Reinforcing Positive Learning Behaviours

Soft Toy Dinosaurs Helping Young Children to Learn Life Skills (Achievosaurs)

Using a range of soft toy dinosaurs to help encourage young children to learn life skills and to reinforce positive values in schools is something Everything Dinosaur team members are very familiar with.  Now that the three inch plus dinosaur range known as the Itsy Bitsies are back in production, our team members set out to examine how one teaching concept, the “Achievosaurs,” came into being.

We were contacted by retired Bristol school teacher Lori Mitchell who explained to us how her idea for using dinosaur soft toys took shape.

Ms Mitchell explained:

“The idea for the Achievosaurs came after a South Gloucestershire Early Years course “Providing Challenge, Improving Outcomes” in October 2010.  During the day, we were asked to consider how we encourage our children to reflect on their learning, rather than just talk about their activities, and how we can help them develop the skills needed to become life-long learners.  We discussed the learning-focused qualities we wanted to encourage in our children and a colleague shared the “Curious Cat” she used with her class.  One of the Early Years advisors then said something like “you know, dinosaurs would be another could have a Thinkasaurus”…and that was it…I went home after the course and devised the Achievosaurs!”

The Achievosaurs (Dinosaur Soft Toys) in 2015

Helping to reinforce life-long learning skills.

Helping to reinforce life-long learning skills.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the dinosaur soft toys: Dinosaur Soft Toys and Achievosaurs

With the rigours of a new curriculum being rolled out across England, there is a great deal of emphasis placed upon preparing pupils for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life.  For example, the idea of introducing scientific working and the scientific method underpins a lot of Everything Dinosaur’s teaching activities in schools.  It is essential for those children at the Early Years Foundation Stage to acquire appropriate social skills as well as developing positive behaviours to help them make good progress.

We asked Lori, how the names of the first Achievosaurs came about and she explained that she based her prehistoric animal names on the specific learning qualities that she wanted to encourage in her Reception class (FS2).  For the last seven years of her working career, before taking early retirement, Lori was a teacher at Cadbury Heath Primary School, Warmley, near Bristol, South Gloucestershire (south-west England).  Using her experience, Lori devised a series of dinosaurs (plus one flying reptile), which she could use as props to help reinforce desired behaviours.

The names of Lori’s Achievosaurs were:

  • Exploring ideas and resources: Explorasor
  • Sticking to a task: Stickasaurus
  • Sharing ideas and resources: Shareadactyl
  • Trying their best: Tryatops
  • Asking questions: Askaraptor
  • Working to solve problems: Solveosaurus rex
  • Thinking carefully about tasks: Thinkadon

Over the years we have come across a number of variants, with something like 1,200 different dinosaur genera described to date and a new one being named on average every 20-30 days or so, educationalists certainly have plenty of scope.

When asked about how she came up with her Achievosaur names, Lori said:

“When I first drafted the idea, all the names ended in “asaurus,” but when I found the wonderful collection of Itsy Bitsy dinosaurs at Everything Dinosaur, my 20 year-old son got involved (dinosaurs really are any age child friendly), and selected the dinosaurs and adapted their name to “fit,” so, for example, we took Velociraptor to make “Askaraptor”.

Lori was invited to share her idea with a team of South Gloucestershire assessment co-ordinators and this simple, but very effective teaching aid has been taken up by a number of primary schools and other educational establishments.

Team members at Everything Dinosaur dedicate a lot of time to supporting teaching teams and many EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage) and Key Stage 1 teachers incorporate a dinosaur themed topic into their scheme of work.  A spokesperson from the Cheshire based company stated that a topic based on prehistoric animals dove-tailed into desired learning outcomes across the curriculum, whether it was using the size and scale of dinosaurs to help build confidence with numbers or having a class imagine what it would be like to have a pet Triceratops in order to lay the foundations for some creative writing.

Dinosaurs as a Term Topic Can Encourage and Motivate Young Learners

Pupils learn about the shapes and sizes of different prehistoric animals.

Pupils learn about the shapes and sizes of different prehistoric animals.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

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

When asked why the likes of Tyrannosaurus rex and Stegosaurus are so popular with young learners Lori suggested:

“One reason I think is their wonderful names.  They sound fascinating, and what child doesn’t like to impress an adult by knowing long words and being able to pronounce them?  Another is that, although huge and terrifying when they lived, dinosaurs are not around anymore so they can’t get us!”

Dinosaurs enduring popularity with children (quite a few adults as well), is an area that has been explored frequently.  Team member, “Dinosaur Mike”, part of the company’s teaching team was interviewed by the BBC on this subject and he hypothesised:

“Dinosaurs are never really out of the media, so children are exposed to prehistoric animals such as Diplodocus and Tyrannosaurus rex from an early age.  When talking to Mums and Dads we know how proud they are when their son or daughter explains all about their favourite dinosaur.  With so many facts and figures associated with these prehistoric reptiles, they do help sow the seeds for an appreciation of life- long learning.”

Her Reception class loved the idea of Achievosaurs right from the start, but we wanted to know which was Lori’s own favourite.  Lori declared that she was very fond of them all as the encouragement these soft toys had given to her charges, getting them to think about learning skills and to develop positive behaviours, was of real benefit.

“It has been fantastic to hear the children identifying what they need to do in order to move their learning on, for example, suggesting they need to be a “Stickasaurus,” which concentrates, in order to learn their letters or a “Solveosaurus rex,” which makes links between ideas, when faced with a problem.  However, if I had to pick one favourite Achievosaur, I think it would be Tryatops”.

Lori explained:

“There is sometimes a perception that learning is just for “clever” children, and I think Tryatops helps to teach children that no matter what the activity or skill level, we can ALL try our best, never give up and in consequence, achieve.”

Tryatops – Based on the Horned Dinosaur Triceratops

An excellent replica of a Triceratops.

An excellent replica of a Triceratops.

Picture Credit: Safari Ltd/Everything Dinosaur

Not being discouraged, even when experimental results don’t quite turn out as expected, is an important aspect of scientific working.  Lessons learned early in life will help pupils face future challenges with more confidence.

In conclusion, we asked Lori if she could design her very own dinosaur what would it be like?

“The Achievosaurs were my first design attempt, with specific characteristics and names, to tie in with the Early Years Characteristics of Effective Learning.  I had a lot of fun inventing and writing about them and I couldn’t be more delighted that other Early Years professionals and schools have found the concept useful.  However, I’ve recently been thinking about the PSE side of things [personal, social and emotional development]: could an Achievosaur help children to take account of one another’s ideas (an Early Learning Goal) or be thoughtful/helpful?  What about a Respectadocus?  Now that the toys are back in production, anything is possible! “

At Everything Dinosaur we have had the privilege of working with a number of dedicated teaching professionals who have adopted and adapted dinosaur soft toys to assist them with their own learning objectives.  As a result, we have come across a large number of different Achievosaurs all aimed at reinforcing appropriate behaviours and encouraging the development of life-long learning.

Thank you Lori for being a wonderful “Shareosaurus” and sharing your story with us.

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