Nakamura, Sandra, Baptiste, H. Prentice, Science and Children
Byline: Sandra Nakamura and H. Prentice Baptiste
Like most kids, our first-grade students LOVE dinosaurs. We decided to capitalize on their love and host a fun-filled Dinosaur Day in our classroom. On Dinosaur Day, students rotated through four dinosaur-related learning stations that integrated science content with art, language arts, math, and history in a fun and time-efficient manner. The event drew parents, teachers, and students together-it was a thrill to see students become a community of learners as they helped each other discuss, write, draw, measure, mix, and record at each learning station. We encourage you to follow our model and discover the "gargantuan potential" of a dinosaur-or other themed-day with your students, too.
Planning and Station Setup
We started planning about a week ahead, reserving the next Friday morning for the big event and sending parent letters home over the weekend asking for volunteers.
Before we selected our activities, we surveyed what students knew about dinosaurs. They knew a lot! They could name some of the meat-eaters: the mighty Tyrannosaurus rex, the intimidating Allosaurus, and quick Velociraptor. Students eagerly discussed the plant-eaters, too. Brachiosaurus was huge, walked on four legs, and ate plants. Triceratops had three horns. The duckbills had snouts like ducks. Some dinosaurs could fly and some could swim.
Based on what students already knew, we selected four science activities from our district's curriculum guide. Additional dinosaur resources are listed in Figure 1.
Figure 1. Additional dinosaur resources.
Abnett, D., and N. Vincent. 2000. Dinosaurs: Over 100 questions and answers to things you want to know. Dubai, U.A.E: Parragon. Aliki. 1985. My visit to the dinosaurs. New York: HarperCollins. Cole, J. 1994. The magic school bus in the time of the dinosaurs. New York: Scholastic. Gibbons, G. 1993. Dinosaurs. New York: Scholastic. Ingle, A. 1993. The glow-in-the-dark book of dinosaur skeletons. New York: Random House. McCord, A. 1977. The children's picture prehistory dinosaurs. London, England: Usborne Publishing. Murphy, J. 1992. Dinosaur for a day. New York: Scholastic. Prelutsky, J. 1988. Tyrannosaurus was a beast. New York: Scholastic. Rohman, E. 1994. Time flies. New York: Scholastic.
Dinosaur Planet http://dsc.discovery.com/convergence/ dinosaurplanet/dinosaurplanet.html Dinosaurs: A Prehistoric Adventure for Grades 2-5 www.field-trips.org/sci/dino/index.htm Animals Past and Present www.urbanext.uiuc.edu/animals/index.html All About Dinosaurs http://teacher.scholastic.com/activities/dinosaurs/
We planned to use about 20 minutes for general instructions. This would leave about 25 minutes in which to complete the four dinosaur stations:
Make a Time Line
What Color Were the Dinosaurs?
With four stations, students could be grouped into four teams of five. These groups were the perfect size for interaction among students as well as for individualized instruction when needed.
Next, we created a "menu" of the day's dinosaur activities (Figure 2). The menu guided students through the four stations (and helped keep teachers and parent volunteers organized!).
Figure 2. Dinosaur day menu.
Make a time line
Fossils of Long Ago by Aliki
Plaster of Paris
Pitcher of water
Shells, plastic "bones"
Bowl for mixing (not metal)
Spoon for mixing (not metal)
5 hand lenses
1/8 measuring cup
How much is a million? By David Schwartz
50 dry beans
What color were the dinosaurs? …