Saturday, 22 October 2011

Dinosaur hunting

Late last month we had our first family holiday since Iona was born. We packed up our tent, bags and dog and headed off to the Jurassic Coast of Dorset, where my Dad came from. It was lovely for his remaining family to finally meet Iona, and I took the opportunity to do a study with her on dinosaurs.

We started out by talking about fossils and how they were made. Homeschool Share suggested making your own fossils using small objects and modelling clay, then following up with plaster of Paris to demonstrate the relief fossils. This was our first activity, therefore, using some airdrying clay we had been given from the leftovers when we attended a council-run education day. Iona really got the hang of making impressions in the clay from her little people, and we left them to dry while we were on holiday. When we got home, after a couple of days to recover, I made up some plaster of Paris and poured it over the impressions. It dried really quickly, and Iona was very impressed!
As we were particularly going to an area where ammonites could be found I made sure to teach her a bit about those fossils. Daddy drew one, which Iona traced over really well and then attempted to copy. I used the opportunity to introduce the word spiral (I think I've used it with her before, but this was her formal introduction).
 When we got to Dorset we spent an hour or so on Kimmeridge beach checking for fossils
and found several partial ammonites. Iona was thrilled to have this one of her own, with 2 partial impressions (1 too tiny to see on camera):

Moving on to dinosaurs, we talked about different types of dinosaurs: those who ate meat and those who didn't. Iona's main criterion seemed to be "Would it eat me?", so we used that as our title for a mini book, and I got her to help me sort some small pictures (printed from Enchanted Learning)
From Enchanted Learning I got a sheet showing dinosaur defences, which I cut up and put into a zig-zag mini-book for Iona.

The idea for the art activity came ultimately from Meet the Dubiens, although I discovered it at 2 Teaching Mommies. We cannibalized some previous paintings, for me to cut into the shapes, then Iona stuck them on using my directions and also the guide picture on the computer. It was a good way of reinforcing the letter D as the initial letter of dinosaur, and Iona really enjoyed some fairly independent craft (as well as a spot of drawing on the dino's face after!):

It was also good practice at naming different shapes.

From Homeschool Share I printed out a graph for Iona to compare the sizes of different dinosaurs. I adapted it slightly, as we hadn't looked at Utahraptor at all, but had done quite a bit about Apatosaurus, and I also added a column for Iona's own height. Unfortunately, when I came to try to find out dinosaur sizes I realized I needed to decide whether to look at their heights or their lengths. I decided on heights, but that ended up not really demonstrating how huge some of the long dinosaurs really were. Anyway, it was a good way of demonstrating the use of charts to compare measurements, although Iona just wanted to colour in all the squares!

I printed out a lot of dinosaur colouring and writing pages (possibly from, although the pages I've now found don't include the writing) to take on holiday. Iona enjoyed using them as a base for further drawing, but wasn't so keen to colour them. However, I was very impressed with the last page she did, of the oviraptor, at how well she is now able to "write" over the top of letters, so we are now doing more of that activity when possible.

From Homeschool Share we also printed out a set of dinosaur shapes, on which I wrote down the words Iona told me to describe dinosaurs. It's really our first look at descriptive writing, and a bit beyond her yet, but I felt it was a good start.

I can't find now where I printed the dinosaur snap cards from, but I laminated them and took them on holiday to try to have a game to play in the tent. We turned out not to have much time for it, and Iona still finds it hard to concentrate on a whole game, but she has some idea of how to play it.

The counting and addition worksheets came from the same, now unknown, source. Iona is now able to count up to 10 objects with only a small amount of help (depending on her mood), but the addition was harder - I found I had to draw the required number of additional objects to enable her to count them. Subtraction was a bit easier, as I only had to cross the objects out.

The final component of our lapbook was a suggestion in "Infant Projects: Dinosaurs", which I borrowed from our local Christian Home Educators' group resource library. This was the "Dinosaur Tooth Trail" Game, which I copied from the magazine by hand.
Iona and I discussed the shape of carnivore teeth compared to those of herbivores, then talked about how you could know what a dinosaur ate by the shape of its teeth. We then chose a dinosaur each (left over from the dinosaur size chart), rolled a die, and if we landed on the right sort of tooth for our dinosaur got to throw again. This game, besides reinforcing an educational point, was just the right length for Iona, who wanted to play again but then began to get bored during the second game.

To tie in with the theme of prehistory, Iona's Bible studies during this unit dealt with Creation (although that only took a couple of days, so we then moved on to other subjects).

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