Learning with Dinosaurs. Featuring: A…….(co-animator and inspirator). April 2006. Learning with Dinosaurs. ICT in the Foundation Stage Part of the ICT project applied to an accredited childminder’s setting (C…., Accredited Childminder) First part of project. Background
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Learning with Dinosaurs
Featuring: A…….(co-animator and inspirator)
Learning with Dinosaurs
ICT in the Foundation Stage
Part of the ICT project applied to an accredited childminder’s setting (C…., Accredited Childminder)
First part of project
Crazy about dinosaurs
A……’s interest in dinosaurs started about a year ago and developed through observing R……, a six year old boy in the setting, drawing and playing with model dinosaurs. A…… would ask R…... if she could join in his games; he was happy to share his knowledge with her, and then dinosaur activities became a regular part of their play time together.
Both children enjoy reading the many books about dinosaurs that we have collected in the setting – often choosing these above others for a 'story time' session - and enjoy playing with the different shaped and sized models of dinosaurs. Through reading (and being read to) and asking questions, often of each other, they have learned many facts about different kinds of dinosaurs: their special characteristics, habits, names and lifestyles. Both children understand that dinosaurs lived a long time ago and became extinct possibly due to major weather changes.
By referring to pictures and images from books, videos and stories, A….. and R….. enjoy positioning the models on the dinosaur landscape (complete with mountains, lakes and palm trees), which we made in the setting a couple of years ago using cardboard, newspapers, papier-mâché and paint. This has encouraged the children’s powers of creativity in terms of the stories they invent about the fate of different dinosaurs.
Both children like to watch the video 'Walking with dinosaurs' following which they have conversations about, for example, the merits of being a carnivorous T-Rex versus a horned, herbivorous Triceratops. They enjoy playing dinosaurs in the garden and acting out the parts of particular types.
More recently, A….. and R….. have been very interested in watching the final episode of 'Walking with Dinosaurs' in which the producers illustrate how they created the scenes and indeed the dinosaurs. From this, the children learned – and explained to me - that the dinosaurs in the film were not real and were either computer-generated or ‘Animatronics’, i.e. hand held models made from rubber or plastic. They also observed how the directors had to use very specific landscapes similar to those in which the dinosaurs lived.
Setting the scene
One day, the two children decided to play outside and asked if they could take the dinosaurs with them. They proceeded to an area of the garden which was shaded by shrubs, taking along with them a T-rex hand puppet and a few herbivorous dinosaurs. R…. was holding the T-Rex and explained that he and A….. were going to recreate the scene from 'Walking with Dinosaurs' where a T-Rex’s head emerges from the bushes. A…….said she would set up the plant eater as prey and she understood that this was to be food for the T-Rex. She told me the T-Rex was a meat-eater.
The children specifically wanted me to take a photo of the dinosaurs without them so that the scene looked as realistic as possible. Both children discussed how they would set the scene and co-operated beautifully, explaining what was happening to each other and to me as they went along. They chose an area which was good for their purposes as there was no grass. They explained that grass didn’t grow at the time of the dinosaurs.
The duckbill stands no chance against the giant, merciless T-Rex.
After this reconstruction, the children both moved to a little rockery in the garden and set up dinosaurs around these so they appeared to be moving around.
A hungry triceratops has the pick of the leaves
A Dimetrodon basking on a rock
Parasaurolophus watching out for that T-Rex!
A…… asked if she could set the dinosaurs out by herself and asked R……’s permission to use his dinosaurs.
First, without any prompting or aid, she found two triceratops and set them out on the ground facing each other. At this stage, A….. asked if I could record her voice using the voice recorder so that she could describe what she was doing.
A….. explained that the two Triceratops were fighting, which echoes a rather dramatic scene she and R….. have discussed and seen on 'Walking with Dinosaurs'. I asked A…… how the animals were fighting and she replied 'with their horns'.
She had paid a lot of attention to detail in making her reconstructed scene appear realistic.
A…… then wanted to reconstruct her own scenes, using the T-Rex and two other dinosaurs at the back of the garden. The pictures and commentary are set out on the following sheet.
The pictures taken of the 'reconstruction scenes' set up by the children illustrate how well they had both internalised the facts and details shown on 'Walking with Dinosaurs' and how effectively they worked together in sequencing events according to their own priorities. For example, they agreed that the T-Rex, being the biggest and fiercest dinosaur, was the most important and had to be shot first.
By aiming to reconstruct the shots which had particularly impressed them – and giving a running commentary - they also demonstrated their understanding of the significance of the scenes e.g. the male Triceratops fighting for territory, the T-Rexs fighting over food, the T-Rex looking and hunting for prey, the herbivores seeking sheltered, leafy areas.
The role of the digital camera in the activity encouraged the children to discuss and focus on the facts and details they had learned as they were both eager to make their own 'mini-film' as accurately as possible. In fact, they are both planning to make a video about dinosaurs.
A……told her mother all about filming the dinosaurs in the garden and explained that we were going to transfer the photos to the computer so that we could produce a booklet.
The mother is very positive and enthusiastic about the project and has let A…… bring in one of their own books about dinosaurs to share in the setting. A….. let her mother listen to the recording of her talking about dinosaurs on the voice recorder which she is keen to borrow to generate discussions at home.
She looks forward to seeing the finished booklet and agrees it will make a good record of the children’s experience that can be shared and used as a reference point for future learning and hopefully a deeper understanding and appreciation of this fascinating subject.
A…..’s return to the land of the Dinosaurs
Transcript of A…..’s commentary captured by the voice recorder.
I want to set it up. I am going to hold its head so that it stands up. I can stand him up here.
Now he’s in the back of the jungle and he’s having food. He eats meat.
(Practitioner: ‘How does he get his meat?’)
He just attacks other dinosaurs. The other dinosaurs say 'don’t eat me!'
Now I’ll show you what this one does. He eats leaves.
(Practitioner: ‘Does he eat the same as the other dinosaur?’)
No. He eats something different.
This one is a Dimetrodon. This is just walking to the next one (dinosaur) and up to the nest. The other one is its friend and it’s just finished eating leaves. 'Can I come in your nest? I am a bit hungry.'