Tell Them a Story… Make it a Real One!

Children love real life stories about adults when they were children. Their questions and discussion are very honest and open. It helps a teacher connect and bond with the students. Do it as often as you can!

I have a simple piece of shale. This rock is a type of mudstone. It breaks into thin parallel pieces and forms in places like lakes and deep marine areas. My rock is very dear to me because IT HAS A STORY!

shale fossil

I was about 10 years old when my aunt asked me to go with her for a ride. She didn’t really tell me where we were going. I cannot remember many of the details, but it was a hot day and we pulled into a dusty place where they were digging out shale from the hillside. When the men and the machines left, we dug out slabs of rock and picked through them. Why my aunt wanted fossils, I don’t know. I chose the one you see in the picture to keep. It left me with questions about how fossils form and how seashells got in the hillside in the first place.

After I talk for awhile, the children are all eager to hold the rock and look at the fossils. They are gentle and quiet until one little girls says, “So, this is a very old rock, right? I know because you were a kid a long time ago.”

I just smile. I know it is better to be a live fossil than a dead one!

Critical Thinking Creates New Ideas

The last week of the dinosaur theme has passed and I am busy collecting stuff for our next theme. Before we go there, I want to share an idea. I traced a dinosaur mold set onto poster paper and set it out for the kids to explore.

This is how the set went together on the package, but I didn’t show this to the students.
Dino Puzzle

Our classroom’s “paleontologists” took a different view of how the bones fit together.
Dino Discovery

I really like their discovery! I am thinking of adding more pieces for next year. If I could find something to create permanent castings of the molds, that would be even better. For now, onto new challenges…

The Fated Brontosaurus

What could be worse than being extinct? Maybe never existing? Believe it or not, there’s no such thing as a Brontosaurus. It was all a result of The Bone Wars.

Two paleontologists, Yale’s O.C. Marsh and Edward Drinker Cope raced to get dinosaur names into publication and outdo each other. This era became known as The Bone Wars. This led to the body of an Apatosaurus being combined with a the skull of a Camarasaurus in 1877. When they discovered a more complete Apatosaurus, they name it Brontosaurus which means “thunder lizard”.

By 1903 scientists had spotted the mistake, but the Brontosaurus lived on, in movies, books and children’s cartoons. Maybe because Brontosaurus has a more interesting name than Apatosaurus, which is “deceptive lizard”. Whatever the reason, there never was a Brontosaurus. Sorry Fred…

Adventures with Dinosaurs

My students love learning the songs I find or create to support each month’s theme.  We were singing to the tune of Mary Had a Little Lamb:

♫ Dinosaurs walked on this earth

On this earth, on this earth

Dinosaurs walked on this earth

And some were very slow… ♫

Before I could start the next verse, a little guy exclaims, “I like Doralora!”  I had to do some heavy guessing about types of dinosaurs before I realized he meant Dora the Exlporer AND she helped dinosaurs cross the river.


Theme for May: Dinosaurs

My theme for May is dinosaurs.  Children are very interested in these prehistoric creatures.  We discuss how extinct animals are those species which are no longer living.  Try explaining that to a four year old for the first time!  Why are dinosaurs extinct?

“They’ve been dead a really long time and dead stuff stinks!”