Monday, September 9, 2013

Dinosaur Dig

Our August book order came in with a ROAR!

I've been wanting to do a dinosaur unit with my grandson for a long time. As a former preschool teacher, I think it's so important to get children excited about science at an early age. There's a list of other areas that I try to cover as well:
  • Social and Emotional
  • Math Concepts
  • Physical Activity
  • Music
  • Art
  • Health and Nutrition
  • Language and Phonics
  • Center Time, Etc.    
So why am I mentioning this? Because it only takes one small stack of picture books to really get those creative juices flowing.  We had a rip-roaring good time exploring our dinosaur theme.  Here are a few highlights from our summer adventure.  Enjoy!

First up...   

Little Grunt and the Big Egg:  A Prehistoric Fairy Tale
Written and Illustrated by Tomie dePaola

Tomie dePaola’s classic (and hilarious) story of a young cave boy and his mysterious egg.

Mama Grunt sends Little Grunt out to find a dozen eggs. All he can find is one huge egg. The egg hatches and out pops a baby dinosaur. Little Grunt names him George. Soon George grows too big for the Grunt family cave, and poor Little Grunt has to send him away. But when the local volcano erupts, there’s only one dinosaur who can save the day!

(This picture book was my personal favorite.  "Ooga, ooga!")

And here's a fun activity that we came up with:

This is a simple art project for little ones. All they have to do is color the dinosaur egg, etc. I attached the cracked shell pieces together with a brad.

Here's the template:

I boiled eggs the day before our unit, so we could dye them blue:

(We hatched them at lunch. LOL!)

And if there had been more time, my grandson and I would have made this awesome volcano cake:

Click on this link to see it erupt:

Seriously cool!

We added this next picture book to our music center:

Dinosaur Pet
Music & Lyrics by Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield
Children's Lyrics by Marc Sedaka
Performed by Neil Sedaka
Illustrations by Tim Bowers

You'll love, you'll love, you'll love this DINOSAUR PET!

Some kids have puppies. Other children have cats. But in this entertaining new picture book and CD by multi-Grammy® winner Neil Sedaka, his son Marc Sedaka, and New York Times best-selling illustrator Tim Bowers, a little boy cherishes something even bigger and better: his own pet dinosaur! Following his best-selling Waking Up Is Hard to Do, Sedaka offers a fresh, funny, child-friendly take on his hit song "Calendar Girl," following the delightful antics of a cuddly, prehistoric pet as it grows, and grows . . . and GROWS.

From a little egg the boy brings home, out cracks the most appealing child-size dino ever to appear in a picture book, with a wonderful appealing smile. But month by month, he gets bigger and wider and longer and taller. Soon, he's eating them out of house and home, the bed is sagging under his weight, and the ceiling's too low. This sweet saurus can even reach the fireworks on the Fourth of July! But no matter how giant the dinosaur gets, nothing gets between a boy and his pet.

With its witty rhyming lyrics, amusing and gloriously colorful illustrations and a catchy, irresistible tune on the CD, kids will be reading and singing and dancing along.

Note: This is a great picture book for those car trips. My grandson loves listening to the CD!

And I adore the illustrations! Check out this fun spread:

It was the inspiration for our next activity:

It's a Veggiesaurus Placemat!

You can find the alphabet flashcards by clicking on this link:

And here are the templates for our Veggiesaurus Placemat. You'll have to size them on your computer, etc. The original artwork for my dinosaur and placemat is quite large, so it will not fit on a standard sheet of cardstock:

Note: I added a pocket to store the veggies. You can trace it separately or simply cut an opening at the top. Make sure you tape a small piece of cardstock on the back to catch the veggies, though.

Here are the templates for our veggies:

(Potato, bell peppers and peas.)

(Carrot, broccoli, eggplant, celery, tomato and a radish.)

We read this next picture book right before lunch:

Dinosaur Train: Triceratops for Lunch (Little Golden Book)
Illustrations by Caleb Meurer

The Triceratops are coming over for lunch. Do you serve them plants or fish? That's what Buddy and his dinosaur siblings need to figure out before Tank and Trudie Triceratops arrive at the train station. This Little Golden Book retells an episode of the new PBS Kids animated series Dinosaur Train. It explains to young readers the difference between herbivores and carnivores—so that the next time you're dining with a dino, you'll know what to expect!

As you can see, we are an even mix of herbivores and carnivores at our house:

And don't forget to sing this tune while you munch:

Find the Dinosaurs! (Team Umizoomi)
Illustrations by David Atkins

The dinosaurs are missing from the Umi City Museum, and Team Umizoomi must use their mighty math powers to find them! Fans of Nickelodeon ages 2-5 will love this charmingly-illustrated Little Golden Book.

And here's a our follow-up activity for this story:

I mixed up the flashcards and had Ben put them in order.  You can also use counters for toddlers to match with the numbers, etc.  The Team Umizoomi action figures can be found at most toy stores. We love watching the show because of its emphasis on mathematical concepts.

And here's the template for our flashcards:

The Team Umizoomi website has tons of printables too.  Click on this link:

And here's a picture book that addresses the social and emotional needs of toddlers in a very entertaining way:

The Mine-O-Saur by Sudipta Bardhan
Illustrations by David Clark

The Mine-o-saur does not like to play nicely — and that doesn’t win him any friends in the school yard. Soon the Mine-o-saur is lonely. But will the other dinos want to give him a chance when the Mine-o-saur is ready to give back all their stuff and apologize?

Young readers will love these little dinosaurs and will have fun chanting along with the Mine-o-saur’s clever rhymes, even as they absorb a lesson about sharing. Join all the dinos in the school yard as Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen’s loveable, quirky Mine-o-saur comes to life through David Clark’s hilarious illustrations.

(The cover cracks me up. Their expressions are priceless!)

Sudipta Bardhan has an awesome teacher's guide on her website. We printed it out and did the sharing activity:

(Click here to download the PDF file.)

Ready to get your hands dirty?

Our dinosaur dig began with a few of our favorite characters. Everyone loves Mama, Papa, Sister and Brother Bear:

The Berenstain Bears' Dinosaur Dig
Written and Illustrated by Jan Berenstain, Mike Berenstain

When Brother and Sister visit the Bearsonian Museum, they luck out. A real dinosaur dig is taking place! What sort of fossils will they find? A Stegosaurus? A Spinosaurus? The mighty Tyrannosaurus rex? Dig in with the Berenstain Bears and find out!

Note: This is one of my favorite books in the series. It opens in the library and then they're off to the museum. The dinosaurs have simple descriptions and the text is perfect for the whole family to read together. We don't have a dinosaur museum in our area, so this was a fun alternative.

And here's one more picture book that I've had for quite a while. I've been waiting for the perfect opportunity to share it with my grandson:

Barnum's Bones
How Barnum Brown Discovered the Most Famous Dinosaur in the World
Written by Tracey Fern
Illustrations by Boris Kulikov

Barnum Brown's (1873-1963) parents named him after the circus icon P.T. Barnum, hoping that he would do something extraordinary--and he did! As a paleontologist for the American Museum of Natural History, he discovered the first documented skeleton of the Tyrannosaurus Rex, as well as most of the other dinosaurs on display there today.

An appealing and fun picture book biography, with zany and stunning illustrations by Boris Kulikov, BARNUM'S BONES captures the spirit of this remarkable man.

And check out my grandson's favorite illustration:

Is he all boy or what? LOL!
(This page is starting to show its wear.)

And here's what I picked up for our official dinosaur dig:

I can't believe how difficult it was to find those miniature dinosaurs. I went everywhere in town! It was on a second trip to Wal-Mart that I discovered them near the dollar bins. The larger ones were there too. I picked up the tub of Air-Dry Clay at Target.

My grandson had a blast making fossils!  I let him pick one special dinosaur to do first:

Then we made a bunch of smaller molds to study in our science lab:

(We used inexpensive plastic cups for specimen jars.)

I searched the internet for dinosaur cards and finally found a few on the Nick Jr. Dino Dan website. Click here to print the cards. I also printed out a sign to liven up the sandbox area. I added a sheet of dark brown construction paper to make it bigger:

Here's the link for the sign:

My grandson has a sandbox at home, so I made something portable for our house. I picked up a plastic container and filled it with playground sand. I buried the "dinosaur fossils" under the volcano for Ben to discover later. We added dinosaurs, a few artificial plants, and the prehistoric jungle was complete.

Oh, and I almost forgot to share this activity:

It's a fossil matching game! 

We wrapped up our dinosaur unit with this double feature:

The Land Before Time: Dino-Riffic Double Feature
The Big Freeze / Journey To Big Water (Full Frame)

The following content was provided by the publisher.

2 Big Dino-Riffic Adventures! "The Big Freeze": Snow falls in the Valley for the first time, puzzling and enchanting everyone. But it's not long before everyone realizes that these fun and fluffy white flakes are a threat to their survival. A visiting Stegosaurus herd fascinates Spike, and he decides to join them on their journey to escape the freeze. When Ducky secretly follows, Littlefoot, Cera and Petrie embark on their coolest adventure ever when they decide to brave the icy weather to bring back their missing friends. This chilling and thrilling new escapade about friendship will warm your family's heart. "Journey To Big Water": When heavy rains create a mysterious "new water," Littlefoot sets off to explore the Great Valley. He quickly becomes friends with Mo, a prank-playing, dolphin-like creature who can't find his way back to the Big Water. Littlefoot and his prehistoric pals come to the rescue, evade a scary sharp-tooth and prove the value of courage, friendship, and diversity in this exciting adventure.

Sing-Along Songs.

"How Do I Find Things?"; Games: "Ducky's Deep-Sea Discovery" and "Cera Goes Home".

So, do you think my grandson enjoyed our dinosaur adventure?

His smile says it all! 

Before signing off...

I'd like to share a few more picture books that are on my wish list. They'd be a great addition to this unit:

Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs: As Retold by Mo Willems
Oh My Oh My Oh Dinosaurs! by Sandra Boynton
Tea Rex by Molly Idle
Dinosaur Kisses by David Ezra Stein
Gus, the Dinosaur Bus by Julia Liu
Dinosaur Roar by Paul Stickland
Bluebonnet at Dinosaur Valley State Park by Mary Brooke Casad

And one more:

(Click here for more information.)

See you next month!

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