We have had an absolute BLAST studying dinosaurs these last two weeks. My students are SO into them and I am ashamed to say that I have a few students who can say obscure dinosaur names much better than I can. (:
(As this post is very long, I have broken it down into three pages. Please remember to click on to read more. This helps the blog post load faster!)
Part One: The beginning of our unit
To begin our unit, we started with creating an anchor chart to guide our learning. We created an “I see, I think, I wonder” chart. Students worked around the room as they recorded their thoughts on Post It Notes.
(When we complete an anchor chart like this, we use three different color Post It Notes for each section. I place books and the Post It Notes at my three different tables and let students organically flow from table to table as they write, discuss, and place their thoughts on our anchor chart.)
From reading and hearing my students thoughts and wonders it became very clear that my students wanted to learn about what dinosaurs ate, what their habitat was like, what their skin was like, how big they were, and how we know about them.
To help guide my students to discover the answers to their questions, the next day, I set up a few exploration centers for my students.
The first was a “small world” dinosaur habitat. This group of students can not get enough of small world play.
Each time my students play at this center they add to the habitat and act out great stories. In the picture below on the left, the dinosaurs are running away because the volcano was exploding! On the right, T-Rex was in search for a meal. The other dinosaurs were all trying to hide from him!
I love how the habitat evolves to include what we are studying and allows the students to use their imaginations in new ways every day.
I also set up a “paleontologist dig site” for my students to explore. I put real fossils (that I purchased from Amazon) in the sand along with the fossil book and tools.
My paleontologists loved carefully sifting through the sand in search for the fossils.
After they found the fossils, they used the book to identify what they found. (Who says students don’t learn when using sensory tables?!)
These play stations brought out many new wonders. My young scientists wanted to know the names of our dinosaurs and what they ate. This brought out a new center that got much traffic the past two weeks.
We called it our “research table.” Students would sort the dinosaurs, then look up their names, and determine if they were a herbivore or carnivore.
After the dinosaurs were sorted, my students created a dinosaur card for them.
They used their resources to add details to their illustrations and then added them to our “Wall of Dinosaurs.”
During exploration centers, my students enjoyed using clay to create replicas of their favorite dinosaurs.
We also used bubble wrap to try to create a reptilian scaled texture for our dinosaur’s skin.
My students painted directly onto the bubble wrap trying to paint the “perfect” camouflage.
Then they pressed their paper onto their painting.
When it was still wet, it looked like this.
Once dry, I traced over the black lines using a Sharpie and my students cut them out. We added a few to our inquiry documentation wall.
Get where you want to go fast!
Part 1: The unit begins http://adayinfirstgrade.com/2016/05/following-my-students-interests-to-dinosaurs.html
Part 2: Our unit continues http://adayinfirstgrade.com/2016/05/following-my-students-interests-to-dinosaurs.html/2
Part 3: Culminating the unit http://adayinfirstgrade.com/2016/05/following-my-students-interests-to-dinosaurs.html/3