Monday, June 30, 2014

Dinosaur Unit!

When we decided to design our own science curriculum for our girls I knew that we needed to start with dinosaurs. Our 7yr old is more than a little obsessed with them and my goal was to get her interested in school in general so it seemed like a natural fit.

I started off looking for a good "textbook" for this unit. After some searching I found the book Dinosaurs: A visual encyclopedia. I knew we could use the internet to research any facts we were looking for but thought that having a book full of dinosaur pictures and facts would be a hit. Turns out I was right, love when that happens!  The girls LOVE looking through the book and finding out interesting facts about the dinosaurs. The text is easily read by my 10yr old daughter and is done in small blocks and bubbles so that it isn't overwhelming for them to read through on their own. There are tons of great pictures and facts throughout the book. We spent quite a bit of time snuggling together reading about the different dinosaurs. We covered their anatomy, life cycles, what they ate, where they lived, how their fossils were found, etc. I would highly recommend it to anyone with a child interested in dinosaurs.

Once I had the text figured out I was on to the day to day assignments. We are a notebooking family so I did a simple search on pinterest for "dinosaur lapbook" and came up with so many great options. I decided to start the unit with these fact cards. I printed out two sets and the girls cut them out and turned them into little books that they pasted into their notebooks. They really enjoyed reading the different facts about the dinosaurs. It of course helps that the dinosaurs are "cute"!

We are a hands on family and love our projects so I was sure to add in several fun and educational projects. We started with a triceratops puzzle. Super simple to put together, my 10yr old did it on her own, lots of fun!

Next up we did some research about some of their favorite dinosaurs. I found these little mini-books that were perfect. They were the perfect size to fit in their notebooks and came with lines to fill in for the facts for each type of dinosaur. Such as what does it's name mean? How long was it? How much did it weight? What did it eat? That was very helpful for the girls who are still too young for a free form research project and needed some leading along the way.

Of course then it was time for another project. We decided to get the Magic School Bus: Back in Time with the Dinosaurs kit and we were not disappointed!

There were several projects included in the kit and the kids loved them all. My one caution is to have an adult snap the wooden dinosaur "bones" out of the packaging. Our 7yr old tried it on her own and broke a few. I tried it thinking I would be better at it and also broke a few. It isn't easy to get out that is for sure! Once you have it out however it goes together quickly and holds up to handling.

Our 10yr old loves crafts of any type and loved making the fossil imprints and casts that came with the magic school bus kit. It really reinforced the different types of fossils for her.

 The magic school bus kit was a massive hit here. So much so that our 7yr old is still carrying around the empty box days after finishing the projects! I cut out any of the pages that had the kids work on them and pasted them into their notebooks. I am not exactly sure what I am supposed to do with the dinosaur teeth they made....I mean those suckers are not going to work in the notebook but at least they learned the difference between carnivore and herbivore teeth.

The time line is a tricky one for a lot of Christian families. We chose to talk about the names of the time periods and not delve too far into the "millions of years ago debate". We will discuss that all when they are older. Honestly as a Christian with a science degree I don't know where I fall on this subject. I need to do a lot more research on it all before I can make an informed decision.

 The final project that we tackled from the magic school bus kit was the diorama. I lucked out on this one. I was going to ask the girls to do the diorama on a Monday. That Sunday my oldest came to me with her "amazing idea". I didn't have the heart to tell her that I had been planning to do one all along. She took the lead on the project and I was very impressed with her process. She even insisted that there HAD to be a we made a volcano!

Of course we also needed some coloring pages to work on while mom read some sections of our "textbook"!

Another amazing kit we tried was the Dinosaur Dig Kit. The girls LOVED it.

There were 3 real fossils in the kit (a tooth, bone, and poop) which was a huge deal for the girls. It was quite exciting for them to find all the pieces of the skeleton as well and they loved putting it together.

We also worked our way through this Dinosaur Lapbook set as well.

Our "final project" for the month was to take a field trip to Field Station Dinosaurs. To say the kids were excited would be an understatement! I told them the day before that we were going on a field trip the next day to see dinosaurs....I should know better by now. They were pinging off the walls with excitement. I being the clever mom that I am used that excitement to my benefit and had them find all their shoes. This should be easy to accomplish right? It took all afternoon. I am so overwhelmed by shoes and clothing storage that we are about to implement a family closet....more about that to come later!

For those not familiar with Field Station Dinosaurs it is a large facility just out side of Manhattan that contains full scale animated dinosaurs. They move, growl, and hiss. I was really not sure how this was going to go over. My 7yr old who is in love with dinosaurs got extremely upset when her father took her to a 3D dinosaur movie at  the local museum. I told the kids over and over again before walking into the park that nothing they were about to see was real. It was all robots that were not going to hurt them or touch them in anyway shape or form. As expected however even though she was so excited to go see the dinosaurs before hand our 7yr old dinosaur enthusiast was sobbing and hyperventilating 10 feet into the park. It really didn't help that the very first dinosaur we found was a scary dilophosaurus that was quite realistic and hissing at us. My husband, being the amazing dad he is, walked up to the dinosaur and posed for pictures to prove to our little girl that it wasn't going to eat him. She wasn't buying it however. It was right at that moment that a park employee walked up and assured her that this was as scary as it gets and that the rest of the dinosaurs in the park were quiet tame compared to this.  I kind of half dragged her past this bad boy and we stopped a little further down the path to talk and look at the map of the park. I knew she was in love with triceratops (she is sure she was named after one) so I made sure to point out that they did in fact have one in the park and that it was next to the exit. Suddenly the tears were gone and she was excited to see what was coming up next. Luckily for me it was an herbivore!

Did you know that New Jersey has an official dinosaur? I didn't. Apparently it is the Hadrosaurus, who knew? The park has multiple shows going on through out the day and we were able to catch the one titled Feeding Frenzy. As part of the show the kids were able to pet a baby Hadrosaurus (the herbivore in the show) and some of the kids were able to pet a young t-rex (the carnivore of the show). Our 7yr old loved the baby Hadrosaurus and was more than a little terrified to see a massive T-Rex walk out onto stage..until I pointed out that it was a giant puppet and you could see the person's legs in black pants next to the dinosaurs legs. Suddenly she was full of giggles and ready to participate. She even loved on her little brother who was getting a bit worried about the large and loud dinosaur that was wondering around on stage.

The kids were able to touch several fossils during the show including jaw bones, T-rex teeth, and dinosaur poop. The T-rex tooth was a big hit with my kids...did you know their teeth were about the size of bananas? Well we do now!

The entire park was filled with amazing dinosaurs from all through the Mesozoic Era. Every time we turned a corner the kids were squealing and running to see what they could find next.

I have to say that the full sized Argentinosaurus, the largest sauropod to ever be found was quite the sight to see. It was massive! I can't imagine how much the ground must have shook when they walked.

I was also quite proud of our girls at their knowledge of dinosaur anatomy and classification. It seems all that time reading and looking through our "textbook" really paid off.  At one of the exhibits everyone around us was talking about how scary the T-rex looked. Our 7 yr old looked at me and said "That isn't a t-rex. It has the wrong number of fingers" It sure looked like a t-rex to ME but she was right it did have the wrong number of fingers. I would have never noticed that! We walked over to the information board and sure enough it was not a t-rex, turns out it was an Allosaurus. We did however find this t-rex farther up the path....and it did have the correct number of fingers, only 2.

Of course the day wasn't complete till we got to see the triceratops.
Over all it was an amazing field trip and an amazing month. We are already planning July's field trip to end our ecosystem unit and they just happen to have a dinosaur exhibit as well. So we are not quite finished with dinosaurs.......but then we are never quite finished with learning in general are we? There is always something new to learn and add to our knowledge of a subject. I hope to instill this love of continued learning into our children as they grow and continue on their path through life.

0 comments on "Dinosaur Unit!"


One Mama's Journey Copyright 2008 All Rights Reserved Baby Blog Designed by Ipiet | All Image Presented by Tadpole's Notez