During the first few weeks of Preschool, I spent time observing children and building a relationship with each and every one of them. I was there to listen, supervise and support the children as they played and learned and I took notes valuing their interest in Dinosaurs. This subject naturally interests all children, therefore it did not follow a rigid timetable, but rather the pace of the children. My goal was to introduce activities over a period of time, not every day, rather returning to it as their interests dictated, revisiting and re-evaluating what they learned,using me as a tool.
Majority of the children were fascinated and excited about Dinosaurs, while others were worried and frightened by the images of those Dinosaurs; most immense, powerful, and aggressive.
The directions of the learning opportunities were followed by a web constructed by myself and the children together. I asked questions about what they knew on the subject of Dinosaurs and what did they wanted to learn about Dinosaurs.
“Dinosaurs eat things with their teeth” Jack explained.
“They have big teeth” Cassidy added.
“What do they eat?” I asked.
“Oranges, apples, grapes, strawberries, vegetables and fruits” Yousuf Replied.
“Plants and meat” Jack added.
“They are inside museums. They live in caves in the forest and in the bushes too” Yousuf explained.
The following activities were inspired by their curiosity, questions, creativity, and ideas.
An open-ended, multi-sensory small world invitation was arranged on a table. This invitation gave children an opportunity to use their imagination during their pretend play.
I drew an outline of a Dinosaur on a piece of paper. Children were provided with a variety of painting tools with different textures such as sponges, brushes, potato mashers, and paint brushes. They experimented with the variety of tools using Red, Blue and Yellow Tempera Paints. This Mural Painting was a great way to explore colours and introduce colour mixing. It also helped develop their creativity and motor skills (fine and gross motor), while building social skills and a sense of community as they worked together.
Children were also encouraged to make Dinosaur prints on paper using black tempera Paint and toy Dinosaurs. They used the toys to make foot prints as well as experimented with other dinosaur body parts. They pretended to jump in paint puddles and we counted footsteps as well.
We painted with marbles. The goal was to use materials and active ways, asking and answering questions about speed, force, and motion, figuring things out (using scientific inquiry), solving problems about position and motion.
They squeezed tempera paint on a sheet of paper and then they were good to go. With practice they figured out how to move the box from one side to the other so that the marbles could roll through the paint and create bright, colourful, and beautiful art. The sheets of paper were then cut into Dinosaur feet by me.
The words “Paleontologist” and “Fossils” were introduced to them. We discussed how Humans and Dinosaurs have never existed side by side and all we know about dinosaurs comes from the scientists who study dinosaurs, called paleontologists. We read books about the tools Paleontologists use and how they find fossils and bones in the earth that they fit together like a piece of puzzle or clues to build their ideas about dinosaurs.
We used play dough and kinetic sand to explore print making, matching fossils to dinosaurs, and names of dinosaurs through a simple Dino Fossils activity. Children always returned to this activity as they enjoyed the sensorial aspect of the activity.
I also found small Dinosaur excavations kits at Daiso which was a perfect individual activity for each child. They were all able to work as a Paleontologist to uncover their own dinosaur.
Together using recyclable materials, we constructed a skeleton of a T-Rex. This activity demonstrated that ordinary materials can be used to express an idea or create art.
To enhance the curriculum with science activities and to help children learn about the environment that dinosaurs lived in I made a volcano with a glass bottle and clay. The volcano erupted with the help of baking soda, food colouring and water.
At the projector, Children were encouraged to explore light and shadows with Dinosaur cut out shapes.
Dinosaur sand molds were added to the sandbox in our outdoor classroom.
New vocabulary words that emerged through books and activities included:
Through these activities children learned new skills, confidence, competence, greater knowledge and the ability to work together.