Comparing Dinos. Reflections, Week 34

This week we mostly finished up our dinosaur unit here in Seed To Seedling Homeschool.  I’ve really been looking forward to this unit, and was not let down, particularly as I modified it to be a little bit more sciency than the parent guide had laid out, as well as added a few extra math activities.

Art, as usual, was not left out of this unit, and Elizabeth really enjoyed doing shadow painting by using a sponge to paint around the edges of a cut-out dino shape, and which we are going to frame and give to my dad for his birthday.  She also used the cut-outs to make a dino Easter card for my mom’s cousin who hosted Easter dinner yesterday, and with whom she’s not close but was so excited to make a card for, that she just did it.

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Completed T-Rex in the window

The Moving Beyond The Page curriculum also brought a T-Rex skeleton to put together.  This was an exercise in patience, because the pieces were made of heavy card-stock paper, and need to be glued together at the junctions and left to dry over 3 separate gluings.  Since the paper was not stiff enough to support the final structure, we hung it up in her bedroom window, where T-Rex now guards her while she sleeps.  He drives away the scary noises. 🙂

To discuss size and give Elizabeth an introductory idea of the possible sizes of dinosaurs, we did an activity with yarn, measuring her and then taping the yarn to the wall with her name and measurement.  Then we did it for her hand, a light switch, per her idea, as well as a coelophysis, compsognathus, and caudipteryx.  For this activity, we filled in a written chart with the names and measurements and discussed how it made it easier to read.  We then compared the lengths of the yarns on the wall using language such as longer and shorter (which was boring to Elizabeth, so we quickly moved on).

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Comparing Lightning McQueen with a blue, plastic car.

The curriculum also brought materials for making a hanger balance to discuss comparing weights, and we had a good time with that.  I modified this activity with two graphs, one in which we compared two different objects each time, and one in which we kept one object the same and compared it to different objects.  Elizabeth filled in the spaces with bright, Easter colors.  When we finished, I pulled out the bathroom scale and the kitchen scale so she could play with the different kinds.

Lastly, we headed to a natural history museum and got to pretend to be paleontologists, brushing off locally harvested fossils in shale with a toothbrush, and looking at rocks with fossils under a large magnifying machine.  I was able to discuss some things with Elizabeth when we first arrived at the museum, but since we had also brought Paul along, after a while I had to chase him around while my dad stayed with Elizabeth.  They had a neat glacier that the kids could walk through with ice to touch, as well as toy dinos and coloring pages.  I couldn’t get Elizabeth much interested in entering the rooms full of fossils on display as they were mostly non-dinosaur fossils, but Paul pushed a stool around and looked at each box in turn.  It was neat to see one display of different artists visions for how coelophysis may have looked, since that was one we had put yarn up on the wall for. Overall, Elizabeth most enjoyed the fossil brushing.

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Fossils in shale to check out under the magnifying machine.

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A casting of T-Rex’s skull.

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A neat display of an oceanographic dinosaur. (So is it a dinosaur or something different?)

Now, we just have a Writing Workshop, in which Elizabeth dictates something to me and I write it down, left, as well as our new “write” word, BIG, and a little reading about what a paleontologist is from a pamphlet that I took from the museum.

Elizabeth really enjoys science and learning about the world around her, she loves informational books, and will sit and pour over them for an hour while I’m down putting her brother to bed.  The Charlotte Mason method of homeschooling is appealing to me with an emphasis on “living books,” yet part of me feels that a whole library room of literature is ignored in this way.  I enjoy the beautiful books that both Moving Beyond The Page and Global Village School suggest, yet wish that some more sciency books with real photographs were included.  I guess that is my part to modify – to add in those of types books so that she can see what the real images look like rather than just someone’s paintings or illustrations.

Share your thoughts:  What are some fun activities you have done centered around dinosaurs?  How do you feel about “living books” vs. science & factual ones?

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