Mayfield Primary School and their Young Palaeontologists

A very pleasant morning was spent recently in the company of the budding palaeontologists and young dinosaur fans at Mayfield Primary School (Oldham).   Dinosaurs had been the topic for the term for the reception class and the pupils has been busy “boning up” on prehistoric animals as well as demonstrating their developing writing and creative skills.

Exploring  dinosaurs can provide teaching staff with an effective scheme of work to help young children manage the transition from a nursery environment to reception as well as helping to reaffirm science objectives as laid out in the national curriculum when moving onto Key Stage 1.

Dinosaurs and prehistoric animals in general seem to capture the imagination of many children and using dinosaur themed lessons can help children grasp important learning outcomes.   For the teachers and teaching assistants,  a dinosaur topic can be a lot of fun to deliver and in our experience there is always a dinosaur expert on hand in the class to help out if required.  The pupils had prepared a set of challenging questions which were fielded at a special assembly to kick off Everything Dinosaur’s visit.  With a new dinosaur discovery every twenty days or so, there is always something new to talk about and the children’s enthusiasm for this subject area was very apparent.

The List of Assembly Questions

The questions compiled by pupils at Mayfield Primary.

Picture Credit: Mayfield/Everything Dinosaur

Compiling a set of questions prior to a visit is always a useful exercise and enables pupils to feel involved with any school visit right from the start of the teaching session.

Certainly, the teaching team at Mayfield Primary had incorporated a wide range of activities within their scheme of work.  There are a number of reliable suppliers of workbook materials and other resources all aimed at enabling differentiation and catering for mixed age classes.  We, at Everything Dinosaur do our bit to help too, providing resources for all ranges and abilities that can be easily downloaded and photocopied – it’s all in a day’s work.

To help encourage imaginative, creative writing, dinosaur faces with speech bubbles can be used.  Pupils readily write short stories about “their” dinosaur and at reception age this method can help with the development of writing skills and the ability to write phonetically.

Creative Writing with Dinosaurs

Dinosaur themed stories great for helping with sentence construction.

Picture Credit: Mayfield/Everything Dinosaur

When working with very young children, such as those in nursery, fossils and their physical properties can help children to make simple comparisons and identify associations between objects.  When working with nursery children dinosaurs can help to reinforce a child’s knowledge and understanding of the world around them.  Extension activities can be used to help encourage language and listening skills.

For the reception aged children, the teaching team at Mayfield Primary had developed challenging and varied topic exploration tasks, everything from measuring a dinosaur footprint to recreating a model of a lost world in miniature in a corner of the classroom.   Such activities cater for a wide range of learning styles.  At Everything Dinosaur, we have an extensive library of dinosaur tracks and we have used these prints in a number of measuring exercises, we have helped many teachers create their very own dinosaur track-ways.  For the pupils at Mayfield they were given the opportunity of making cheesy dinosaur feet, another “hands-on” activity that enabled aspects of the Dinosauria to be explored.

Pupils Making Cheesy Dinosaur Feet

Making Dinosaur themed Snacks

Picture Credit: Mayfield/Everything Dinosaur

It was certainly a very full itinerary that the teaching staff had compiled and we were happy to assist by reinforcing some of the learning objectives and providing some expert knowledge to help check understanding and summarise some of the key learning outcomes.  Whether it was model making, role playing, naming their very own dinosaur or helping to build Mayfield’s dinosaur exhibition the children seemed to really enjoy learning about dinosaurs and prehistoric animals.

Dinosaur Explorers

Children getting to grips with Dinosaurs

Picture Credit: Mayfield/Everything Dinosaur

We suspect a few grown-ups got to learn a thing or two when the children went home each day and explained what they had been doing.  With over 1,200 different dinosaur genera identified to date there is certainly a great deal of scope within this subject area.

Who knows, some of the enthusiastic dinosaur fans at the school may go onto study science and perhaps make their very own contribution to the field of palaeontology in the future.

Our thanks to all the teaching staff who helped make Everything Dinosaur so very welcome during our recent visit and a special thank you to Mrs Ellidge for compiling the photographs and examples of the pupil’s work .

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