Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Dinosaurs for Preschoolers - Part 1

"Dinosaur Week" was a much awaited week at our house. I think most schools and household probably hold this week much earlier in the season but until I started received dinosaur skulls and dinosaur figures,  I didn't see much interest in dinosaurs under this roof. Adrian has had a giant floor puzzle with a dinosaur theme for nearly a year now and has completed it maybe 2-3 times at most (and he lovessss puzzles!) so this tells you how little interest he's had in the past. Somehow, when the packages filled with school materials and dinos started coming in though,  the interest for the reptile rocketed. "Good", I thought. There's nothing like a little anticipation! :)

Volcano Eruption Dinosaur Bin
Dinosaur Sensory Bin with Interactive Pond and Volcano

Ok. So this was totally copied from Beth at 123 Homeschool 4 Me. Beth worked with her own children for 6 weeks on the dinosaurs theme and when I saw her bin, I was absolutely won over. First, because I had somewhat given up on making sensory bins for Adrian. At nearly 5 years old, he  barely touched them and I couldn't afford to spend more time in creating more grown up versions of them for him not to even look at them. Then, I saw Beth's and knew he would love it. Who wouldn't? I was looking forward to making the volcano erupt myself! Anyhow, in order to make this bin, you'll need lots of baking soda (I bought the big box and used half of it to cover my storage bin). I made the pond using a plastic lid and then put a few drops of vinegar and blue food coloring and then added water. I "planted" some real branches from our shrubs outside and a few fragrant flowers (although we don't see them in the pictures). I scattered some rosemary on the "snow" as well. For the volcano, I used a small spray bottle and removed the lid. Per Beth's instructions, I filled it with warm water (left about 1inch empty), added a few drops of soap detergent (3-4), a few of red food coloring and covered it with homemade play dough (yes! I finally made some. My first batch!). When time came to erupt the volcano, I had some scoops ready with baking soda and vinegar. I put in 2 tablespoons of both in and it was gently pouring over. After the initial eruption, it was all up to Adrian. He knew what to do and believe me, he loved making the volcano erupt himself. He also loved rushing the dinosaurs to the pond every time the lava came out. Overall, this sensory bin was the biggest hit since the toddler years! Thank you Beth! :)

Dinosaur Sensory Bin Volcano
Dinosaur Sensory Bin Prior to Volcano Eruption

Dino Toob and Cards
Language - Learning about Dinosaurs & matching cards to dino figures

On the first day we explored the topic of dinosaurs, we had a lot to discuss. What's a dinosaur? Did they really exist? Well, where did they go then? And where did they live before they went extinct? What did they eat? How big were they really? After the big questions were covered (don't you love books?), we explored dinosaurs more thanks to the cards you see in the picture. Montessori Print Shop offers one set of these for free! You can also, like me, purchase an additional set to have more variety. I also made a few more cards just so Adrian would have a card to match each dinosaur contained in his Safari Ltd Dinosaur Toob. I made mine similar to MPS but they came out slightly shorter and bigger I guess (told you I was no good at designing!).  Matching dinos and cards was really fun to him and it's a great exercise for the eyes. It's all in the details.

Matching Dino Toob Cards
Matching Dinosaur Figures with their Cards

Dinosaurs on the Map Montessori
Geography - Dinosaur Figures and Continent Map

A few weeks before we were due to have our Dinosaurs week, I ordered from Kid Advance this beautiful Continent Puzzle Map. At first, I was a bit disappointed because I was told it wouldn't be here in time for our unit but in the end, it arrived during our dinosaur study! Yay! Unfortunately, as you can see, it was damaged during shipment (big, big earthquake made the "plates" shift in South America/Antarctica and parts of Asia). Kid Advance is, of course, sending me a new map (they have great customer service!) but Adrian, having seen this one, was not going to let this one go so easily so I still went ahead and did the planned activity explaining the map would be replaced later (he respects his things and immediately noticed something was off with this map as he's already worked with it in German school).

Adrian already knew the continent names (in German thanks to his Montessori-inspired German school) so we learned them in English this time and then he was off to put the right dinosaur on the right continent. Of course, some belonged to more than one so I made a choice when I made the labels so North America would be less crowded. Wish we had some South American dinos! :( More figures for next year! :)

Dinosaur Cutting Strips
Dinosaur cutting Strips

Based on the Safari Ltd. Dinosaur Toob figures, I selected pictures of the same dinos and scaled them down so Adrian would have to open the scissor blades twice to get the paper strip cut. He's getting more confident in cutting so we've gone from one cut to get through to two. Yes, I am a proud mama! :)

Carnivore Herbivore Dinosaurs
Carnivore or Herbivore : Science and Gluing

All that cutting had to go somewhere. Adrian is proud of his cutting skills and I wanted him to know his work was going to be put to good use; we were cutting so we'd be able to use these pictures later. I showed him the Dinosaur Diet sheet I prepared. When all pictures were cut, Adrian had to read from the cards shown earlier which type of food the dino preferred but before that, he of course, had to identify the dinosaur.  Finally, he glued them with a glue stick on the right side of the sheet. This was an all-around activity he quite enjoyed because he really felt he did it all himself, from the cutting, to the reading, to the gluing and classifying.

Stegosaurus Dinosaur Clothespins
Stegosaurus Craft, Math & Fine Motor

I jotted down this craft from No Time for Flashcards many months ago (yes...I'm very old-fashioned. I don't do Pinterest yet...) so we could give it a try. It was a tremendous success.  I used a stegosaurus coloring page from which I cut the spikes (I am terrible at drawing), traced it on thick cardboard from a package box and cut it out. Adrian decided that since it was a Stegosaurus, it should be green with red spikes (like the one in the Toob) so on day 1, I let him paint the dino accordingly and 6 wooden clothespins accordingly as well. On Day 2, with everything dry, the eye was glued on and a die was brought out. Haven't played with those in forever. Adrian got to roll how many spikes the Stegosaurus would wear and it ended up with 5 but not before he had a few tryouts! :)

Painting Stegosaurus Dino
Craft In Progress

Digging for Dinos Preschool
Digging for Dinosaur Fossils - Paleontology

While browsing dinosaur activities for inspiration on Living Montessori Now (one of my go-to resources in the Montessori world), I saw this activity involving the Safari Ltd Dinosaur Skulls and just had to get my own set of skulls so Adrian could try it out. He loves sand and looking for things in the sand so this work was a perfect match. I will tell you that this sandbox was small but so were the skulls. It was not as easy as it seems. I thought it would be a fast find but it wasn't at all. I guess in a way, the skulls are practically the same color as the sand and they are not that big either. Once the skulls were found, we tried to identify them. Some were easier than others given their "odd" shape. I believe the entire dinosaur skeletons are also available thru the same company as well. I guess it might have been easier for identification purposes at such a young age.

Paleontology Preschool
Close up of our Dinosaur Skulls in the Sand

Counting Dinosaurs
Math - Counting Dinosaurs

Improvised activity of the week? counting dinosaurs and marking the correct amount with...a dinosaur! :) This happened while "School" was officially over but Adrian was officially not finished with school. I told him he could count the dinosaurs on these cards if he wanted to and use the figures as markers...Visit Over the Big Moon to get an entire free package of Dinosaur Printables. An expanded pack is now available as well!

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  1. So glad my dinosaur bin inspired some fun at your home! Looks like you had some pretty amazing dinosaur weeks too =)


    1. We sure did. All my themes (with very few exceptions) are designed to last a week so the week went by fast. The dinosaur bin was a big success and is making Adrian interested in them again so I am very thankful you share yours on your blog!

  2. Love your dinosaur activities! I can see the Montessori-influence in your activities as well. I've pinned this to use when planning our own dinosaur unit later on.

    1. Thank you. I do try to include lots of Montessori-type of activities but not exclusively. Glad you found some ideas to work with! We'll be using your Bugs package next week! Yay!

  3. What a great unit and so much fun! My daughter is 4.5 years old too and loves dinosaurs. We will be trying your Stegasaurus craft soon..she will have a blast! Thanks.

    1. You're welcome. I'm happy to hear you'll be trying out the craft. It was really fun to make and with the die, it turned into a game that involved fine motor so it kept the craft alive a bit longer! :) In fact, it is still in my son's room... :)

  4. My girls are totally into dinosaurs. They are insisting on a dinosaur themed birthday party. I love this blog post...lots of great ideas to grab from it. You know teachers...have to even make a birthday party a bit educational! Saw you on Share it Saturday.

    1. Tell me about it! We threw a Disney Cars birthday party for Adrian last year and I felt like we should have learning games involved. He loved them all and thankfully, some were re-used in my transportation unit this year. :) Happy you stopped by and found some inspiration!

  5. Hmm, my comment disappeared. Well just in case it pops up here is another one. Love the dinosaur idea. Will fit in with what my girls are interested in these days. Saw you on Share it Saturday. Thanks for the ideas.

    1. I guess I should put a note about comments being moderated, huh? I thought Blogger told people their comments was awaiting publication but maybe it doesn't. I'll have to add a few words about that. I simly like to make sure I read and respond to every single comment I get since people take the time to give me feedback so before being published, they go to a special box where I get to read them and then publish them. :) Sorry about the confusion.

  6. What a great dinosaur unit! Thanks for linking up at the Virtual Sharing Fair!

    1. Thank you Marnie! Love your Virtual fair! I already stop by Carrots are Orange several times a week to see what's new so this is just a cherry on top of my sundae! :)