"In this classroom, relationships are fostered, families are respected, and children are honored.
In this classroom, nature's gifts are valued and children's thoughts are captured.
In this classroom, learning is alive and aesthetic beauty is appreciated." -Unknown

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

It's a Dino Dig!

We spent a day learning about fossils and paleontologists, then followed it up with a "Dino Dig". I got out early and buried a variety of bones in our sandbox. We encouraged the kids to dig and unearth a bone, brush it off with the paintbrush, then match it to the bone graph we had on a nearby table.

I drew the outline of the bones on a section of banner paper.

The first child out found the largest bone.
He was convinced that it was a dinosaur skull.

The excitement was contagious as each child discovered
a bone and began unearthing it.

After digging up their bone each child used some brushes
to clear off all the sand.
After the bone was cleaned, they made their way over
to the table and began matching it to the paper drawing.
They did a great job with the matching.

The kids had a blast! Some discoveries they believed they made were: a triceratops horn, an allosaurus skull, a tyrannosaurus rex leg bone, and more. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Volcanoes and Dinosaurs and Summer, Oh My!! Part 1

Each year our school district offers extended year programs at a variety of sites. This was my 5th year teaching with them and each summer I choose a focus for our program. This year I decided to focus on dinosaurs, and though we are still going for two more weeks, I can say that we've been having a blast.I wanted to share some of the activities and things we've been learning with you.

Each child made a volcano out of clay.

We erupted a volcano in the sandbox with
dinosaurs looking on...

We erupted a volcano in class and discussed the vinegar
being the acid and the baking soda being the base and
when the two combine you get a reaction. Choruses of,
"Again, again!" were heard.

After the clay was dry each child painted his/her volcano.
We used sponges in dinosaur shapes to do some sponge painting.

Each child added colored vinegar to the backing soda filled
volcano to erupt his/her own volcano and then were able
to take the volcano home with directions of how to
repeat the activity with his/her parents.

After learning about herbivores and carnivores
we played the game "What's for Lunch?" The
kids took a piece of the play food and put it
in the appropriate basket.
Nothing but meat for this guy.
We celebrated our T-Rex day with clothing and toys.

We've completed our first week with our Dinosaur unit and I believe it has definitely earned it's name: "Volcanoes and Dinosaurs and Summer, Oh My!!"

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Making Dinosaur Eggs

We're in the midst of our Dinosaur Summer unit and had such a blast making our Dinosaur Eggs that we wanted to share it with everyone. Here goes...you'll need to gather everything in advance. Note: I had 14 small plastic dinosaurs and doubled the recipe. I had a little left over, but not much. It probably depends on the size of the dinosaurs you are using.

1 cup flour
1 cup dried coffee grounds
1/2 cup table salt
1/4 cup craft sand
3/4 cup water
small plastic dinosaurs
a large bowl, whisk, and measuring cups
a group of giggling, enthusiastic kiddos

Before making the eggs we spent some time playing with and identifying the dinosaurs. I purchased a plastic tube of 14 dinosaurs from Michael's for this activity.

I went to Starbucks the day before and got one of their FREE bags of used coffee grounds. The recipe calls for dried coffee grounds. Ours were mostly dried, but not completely. This may vary just how much water you need. We passed around the coffee grounds for everyone to get a chance to smell them. 

We mixed the coffee grounds and the flour together and used a whisk to blend them until the mixture was smooth. Ours were a little lumpy, so vigorous whisking was necessary. We made the most of the experience and passed the bowl and the whisk around so everyone got to help.

We then added the salt and blended until smooth, again. The kiddos were amazed at the color changes as we added each new ingredient.

The more, the merrier when it comes to mixing things. Everyone gets to help.

Next comes the craft sand. I had purchased a light brown colored sand from Michael's. It was a little glittery and the glitter would show through when we laid the eggs out in the sunlight to dry. 

We then added the water. This amount may vary from what the recipe calls for. It depends on how dry the coffee grounds are. We doubled our recipe, but didn't quite double the amount of the water. It's better to add it a little at a time.

We then use a 1/2 cup scoop, putting some in the cup, having each child choose a dinosaur and lay it down in the scoop and then add more to cover it up. We then "plopped" the mixture out into the child's hands and have them form the egg around the dinosaur making sure all dinosaur parts are covered.

Once they were pleased with the egg, we laid them on a tray to dry. We've had them drying out in the sun during our 3 1/2 hour class time for a couple of days. Tomorrow we'll have a Dinosaur Egg Hunt where the children will find an egg and break it open to discover which baby egg they've found. Such fun!!