All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
1 11, 2016

Fossil Hunting at Biddulph Grange

By | November 1st, 2016|Dinosaur Fans, Educational Activities, Geology, Main Page, Teaching|0 Comments

Already for the Fossil Hunting at Biddulph Grange

Last Sunday, Everything Dinosaur team members visited Biddulph Grange Garden in Staffordshire as part of the dinosaur themed activities that had been organised at the National Trust property.  Our staff arrived nice and early and set up a fossil hunting activity for the budding young palaeontologists in the specially erected marquee that had been provided.

All Ready for the Fossil Hunting Activity at Biddulph Grange Garden

Everything Dinosaur fossil hunting activity.

Fossil trays laid out at Biddulph Grange Gardens.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The picture above shows the marquee starting to get prepared for all the visitors we were expecting that day.  The event, part of The National Trust’s promotional campaign to raise awareness about the restoration of the unique Geology Gallery at Biddulph Grange, had been sold out for some weeks.  However, on the day itself our dedicated team met up with a number of other visitors to the beautiful gardens and we even gave away some fossils to visitors who had been unaware of the event and “popped into the tent to have a look around”.

Preparing the Tables to Help Identify the Fossils

Everything Dinosaur at Biddulph Grange Gardens 2016.

Fossil trays laid out at Biddulph Grange Gardens.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Giving Away Fossils

We put lots of gravel into the trays on the floor and then carefully added a variety of fossils so that visitors could have a go at spotting fossils amongst the stones.  There were shark teeth, bivalves, brachiopods, fossilised wood, trilobites, ammonites, belemnite guards and even pieces of fossilised bone.  We certainly had a busy day, our early arrival allowed us to get organised and lay out all the helpful fossil identification charts that we had prepared.  We had to keep up topping up the fossil hunting trays, the visitors were finding so many specimens.

The early arrival also allowed Everything Dinosaur team members to visit the partially restored Geology Gallery.  When completed (late spring 2017), the gallery will house many fossils and casts that help explain about prehistoric animals and life in the past.  Mr James Bateman, the former owner of Biddulph Grange and Gardens, built a wonderful gallery dedicated to uniting the ideas of a biblical creation with the newly emerging sciences of geology and palaeontology, scientific ideas that were beginning to take root in the 1860’s.

Day V (Five) in the Geology Gallery

Biddulph Grange Geology Gallery.

Part of the Geology Gallery at Biddulph Grange Gardens, ready for restoration.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The picture above shows the spaces in the walls where the original fossils were housed.  The large, almost triangular space at the top of the photograph was the location of a partial Ichthyosaur skull (Temnodonotosaurus platydon).  Sadly, very little documentation regarding the gallery and its contents have been preserved.  One of the fascinating problems associated with this particular restoration project is trying to work out what fossils went into the various spaces.  Only one of the original fossils remains, a section of Lepidodendron bark with its characteristic diamond shaped leaf scars.

The Lepidodendron Bark Fossil in the Geology Gallery

A piece of fossilised bark (Lepidodendron).

The Lepidodendron fossil (ancient bark).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Although the term Lepidodendron is used to refer to a genus of tree-sized lycopsid, strictly, only the scale bark on the uppermost part of the plant is named Lepidodendron.  Plants are rarely preserved as whole fossils but normally occur as isolated fragments, often representing different parts of the organism, the leaves, roots, trunk, stems, fruiting bodies, flowers and such like.  As these different parts are found separately, each plant tends to get a separate scientific name.  Hence, the roots of this lycophyte are referred to as Stigmaria and the base of the trunk is called Knorria.

Lepidodendron is derived from the Greek, it means “scale tree”, a very apt description for the diamond-shaped leaf scales which can be clearly seen in the Biddulph Grange fossil.

1 11, 2016

Dinosaur Workshops for the Cornerstones Curriculum

By | November 1st, 2016|General Teaching, Key Stage 1/2|Comments Off on Dinosaur Workshops for the Cornerstones Curriculum

Dinosaur Workshops for the Cornerstones Curriculum

The start of the second part of the autumn term and Everything Dinosaur team members are in the process of delivering a number of dinosaur and fossil themed workshops to support various term topics within schools.  Several schools have approached the teaching team at Everything Dinosaur and requested a provocation, a dinosaur workshop to kick-start a topic area, one that will enthuse the pupils (and teachers too).  Some of these schools are following the Cornerstones curriculum, a cross curricular approach to learning that encompasses four interlocking phases.

Delivering a Provocation to Inspire Young Learners

Dressing up to inspire young learners

Cross curricular learning how to inspire with an engaging start to a topic.

Picture Credit: Frankfurter Buchmesse (Press)

Cornerstones has four main areas of learning:

  1. Engage
  2. Develop
  3. Innovate
  4. Express

Pupils have the opportunity to develop and improve skills learnt during each of these interlocked and related stages.  The aim is to help each child reach their full potential.  When it comes to a dinosaur themed learning topic, our team members are often amazed at the level of pre-knowledge that is demonstrated.  For instance, during one of our recent dinosaur workshops in school, working with a Year 1 class, the children were eager to show us their underwater scenes that featured a variety of marine reptiles and a coelacanth!

The Engage Element of the Cornerstones Curriculum

In the “Engage” section of the Cornerstones curriculum, pupils are given the chance to start their topic with a memorable, exciting and stimulating first-hand learning experience.  Everything Dinosaur team members call their provocation workshops “wow experiences”, after all, a great way to start a topic all about dinosaurs and life in the past is to handle real fossils.

Fossil Handling as Part of a Dinosaur Themed Workshop Helping to Kick-Start a Term Topic

Providing an enriching experience for the Cornerstones curriculum.

Fossil handling can provide a real “wow” experience for the children.

 

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

For further information about Everything Dinosaur’s visits to schools to carry out dinosaur and fossil themed workshops: Contact Everything Dinosaur

It is important to kick-off the topic with a thought provoking and exciting learning experience.  This will help to enthuse and motivate the children, it will also help to enthuse the teaching team and with the extra resources we provide, there is plenty of scope to build in extension activities after one of our dinosaur and fossil workshops.

The dedicated teaching team at Everything Dinosaur will be undertaking a number of these provocations over the next two weeks as many schools start a new dinosaur and fossil themed topic area in the second half of the autumn term.  We wish all teachers, teaching assistants and home educationalists a rewarding and successful teaching term.

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