Help! There’s a Dinosaur in my Classroom
Millions of years ago, the land now occupied by Eversfield School was covered by dense primeval forest and roamed by dinosaurs. For their latest topic, RAH found themselves transported to this lush and alien world as their classroom was turned into the set for Jurassic Park. Mysterious footprints appeared overnight on the classroom floor, and they didn’t seem the right shape to belong to Mr Phillips.
To help them explore, RAH were provided with dinosaur detective tools, including magnifying glasses, binoculars, reference books and paper for making notes. Mrs Hynes wasn’t surprised to find that many of the children brought a large amount of background knowledge to the topic but, even for dinosaur specialists like Xavier, there was still plenty more to discover, as well as to extend their skills across the curriculum in a fun and innovative way.
Having gone to such a lot of trouble to create a prehistoric world in the middle of Solihull, Mrs Hynes was keen to fill it with real dinosaurs. Unfortunately, as we all know, dinosaurs are now extinct, so she made one instead with the help of her class. The dinosaur came to life in front of the class, with its very own Build-A-Bear style heart and a birth certificate. After much discussion and a democratic vote, it was decided that the dinosaur was male and was named Sammy. He now enjoys an enviable life visiting different children for sleepovers and being thoroughly spoilt. At Yusuf’s house, Sammy put on a pair of pyjamas at bedtime to keep him cosy and warm and, when he visited Grace, luckily he didn’t snore. However, Callum reported that naughty Sammy crept into his daddy’s bedroom during the night and was caught watching Brooklyn 99.
Dinosaur pictures helped the children to sequence the numbers between one and twenty, inspiring many of them to have a go at counting backwards, which is at least twice as difficult, even for children in Forms 1 and 2. Mrs Hynes then encouraged her class to count in twos, and to sort the odd from the even dinosaurs. She even took some of the dinosaurs away and asked people to suggest what the missing numbers might be. These are all important skills that will prove extremely useful further up the school. Taking things a stage further still, some children were able to identify the largest and smallest in a set of dinosaur numbers.
Developing skills in another branch of Mathematics, the children had the opportunity to create their own dinosaurs out of 2D shapes, which they then had to name and label accurately. When you look at the photographs, I’m sure you will agree that these shape dinosaurs look very realistic…and utterly terrifying.
Apart from reading books about dinosaurs, Mrs Hynes challenged her class to segment some very long and complicated dinosaur names for spelling. In order to achieve this, the children had to focus carefully on the various sounds they could hear in the words and write them in the correct order, which they accomplished with some impressive results. Other children, including Lauren, Arthur, Callum and Grace, were keen to bring in the research work they had done at home so that everyone could admire it.
Next, Mrs Hynes boldly arranged a visit to a virtual dinosaur museum within the classroom itself. Members of RAH were invited to bring in an interesting exhibit from home, and Mrs White even brought in her own very impressive fossil collection. The day was made even more exciting because RLW were also having a museum day and the children were able to view exhibits in each other’s classrooms. Everyone agreed that their favourite item was Valentino’s stupendously large T-Rex, which turned out to be the Eversfield equivalent of Dippy the Dinosaur.
A great deal of colour was brought to the classroom by the creation of a Dinosaur Portrait Gallery. The children painted images of dinosaurs in their own style, adding extra details such as claws, teeth and eyes, with felt pens once the paint had dried. In addition, the children practised their scissor skills when making dinosaur stick puppets. A huge amount of concentration is required to keep your cutting on the line. Gurjot was very pleased with his work, audaciously declaring that it was neater than that of his older sister. An added challenge was presented by the use of the Sellotape dispenser, required for the tricky business of attaching the puppet to the stick. One false move, the children quickly realised, could lead to more than just the Sellotape being ripped.
Other activities included flattening clay to make a fossil, and creating cone shaped dinosaurs which, as Roberta proved, might come in handy for a hat at the Reception Christmas party. Chloe noticed perceptively that, when the cone rolled around, it made a circle, owing to its curved face. Meanwhile, there was also an opportunity to make dinosaur biscuits. These looked very tempting…until some strange animals left their footprints all over them!
When the time came to reflect upon the dinosaur topic, everyone was impressed with how much they had learnt in such a short space of time. Lauren declared confidently that a T-Rex’s foot was as big as her dad’s shoe, whilst Callum and Gurjot proved that they had grasped the importance difference between herbivorous and carnivorous dinosaurs. Of course, learning is very often incidental, but is no less valuable for all that. Inquisitive Jayden observed that objects appear even bigger if you place one magnifying glass on top of another, leading him to speculate what amazing results you would get if you used three. Rohan said that dinosaurs lived 60 million years ago, and was keen to tell Mrs Hynes how many zeros are in that number. Most heartening of all is that the children in RAH remain keen to find out more about dinosaurs, even though the topic in school has been completed. Arthur is even planning a trip to the Isle of Wight, where he hopes to see real dinosaur footprints, and Sammy the stegosaurus will remain with RAH, continuing to inspire them with their learning.