Monday, February 29, 2016

Dinosaurs, And More Dinosaurs

Thursday ended our two-week rotation of "Dinosaurs" with the Storytime-To-Go program.  And not a day too soon, as my voice was getting hoarse from all the roaring!  As usual, we visited several different daycares and provided storytime for about 20 different groups.  I used 2 or 3 books and 1 or 2 songs/activities with each group, after starting with our letter of the day (Dd) and opening song.

The Books

Snappy Little Dinosaurs by Dugald Steer is probably my favorite of all the Snappy books.  Kids love the brightly-colored pop-ups and the rhyming text.  The name of each dinosaur (and pronunciation guide) are at the bottom of each page.  I first see if anyone knows the name of the dinosaur, then ask everyone to say it together.

I'm Big! by Kate and Jim McMullan is another favorite of mine, because it has action and lots of opportunities for interaction. Most kids will get caught up in helping the main character find his pack, and advising him whether to run, hide, or fight.

I'm Bad! is another fun book by the McMullan's, starring a fierce T. rex on the hunt for food, but not having much luck.  In the end, it turns out he's just a baby.  There are ways to make it interactive, by asking the audience to act out some of the actions, and to find dinosaurs camouflaged in the forest.

Dinosaur Roar! by Paul and Henrietta Stickland has very simple text with only 2 words on each page, showing contrasting terms, such as "Dinosaur fierce; Dinosaur meek" , and great illustrations.  This is a good choice for younger preschoolers, but may bore older ones.

I came across Rotten and Rascal by Paul Geraghty while shelf-reading one day and was instantly drawn to the dark humor and alliteration of the text.  The story can serve as a good anti-bickering lesson, but is probably better suited for older kids.  It's always interesting to see how long it takes the kids to figure out what happened.

Simms Taback's Dinosaurs is relatively short without a lot of text, and has fold-out pages that gradually reveal a potion of a picture of a dinosaur along with a clue to it's identity.  This is particularly good for kids who already know some dinosaur names, or following another book that teaches them the names.

Bones, Bones, Dinosaur Bones by Byron Barton is a very simplistic introduction to how dinosaur bones are dug up, taken to a museum, and assembled.  I think both the text and pictures are too simple for preschoolers and up, but I do like that it's a good way to introduce a discussion of paleontology and fossils.

In Bernard Most's If The Dinosaurs Came Back a young boy imagines what it would be like if the dinosaurs came back.  I like to preceed this book with a brief discussion about how the dinosaurs are extinct, and who would like it if they were still around.  At each scenario the boy imagines, you can ask the kids if they would like that or think it would work.

Shape By Shape by Suse MacDonald is a great little book that uses cut-outs to gradually build a dinosaur one shape/facial feature at a time.  While this is a great book for shapes, I decided I don't really like using it with a dinosaur theme, because it gives away the ending when you're already talking about dinosaurs.  I also don't like the inaccuracy of the teeth, which some kids will catch.  Brachiosaurus was a plant-eater, and did not have sharp, triangular-shaped teeth.

In Tyson The Terrible by Diane and Christyan Fox, three young dinosaurs are playing when they hear the pounding of large footsteps coming nearer.  Fearing it is the rumored "Tyson the Terrible", they hide, only to see a very small, young Tyrannosaurus crying because no one will play with him.  The three friends invite him to play, laughing that they were afraid of such small dinosaur, until they meet his brother.

The Activities
I had several different activities with this theme, including songs, rhymes, a flannel board, and comparing footprints.  The most popular was Laurie Berkner's "We Are The Dinosaurs":


"Ten Big Dinosaurs"
(Hold up fingers as you count)

One big, two big, three big dinosaurs,
Four big, five big, six big dinosaurs,
Seven big, eight big, nine big dinosaurs,
Ten big dinosaurs.

They all lived a long, long time ago.
They all lived a long, long time ago.
They all lived a long, long time ago.
Now they are all gone.

Ten big, nine big, eight big dinosaurs,
Seven big, six big, five big dinosaurs,
Four big, three big, two big dinosaurs,
One big dinosaur.

"Dino Ditty"

Hungry dinosaur a stompin' with his feet, singing
Dino ditty, ditty dum, ditty doo.
Lookin' all around for something good to eat, singing
Dino ditty, ditty dum, ditty doo.
He's huge (He's huge), He's strong (He's strong),
He's huge, he's strong, won't be hungry very long.
Dino ditty, ditty dum, ditty doo

Hungry plesiosaur swimming in the sea....looking around for yummy fish to eat....
Hungry pterosaur flying in the air....looking for food, but he doesn't want to share....
*Source:  First verse modified from Perry Public Library, 2nd & 3rd verses are original by me.
"Five Little Dinosaurs"
(use with flannel board, sing to tune of "Five Little Ducks Went Out To Play")

One little dinosaur went out to play,
On a giant fern one day.
She had such enormous fun,
That she called for another dinosaur to come:

[Raise hands to mouth and loudly call "Oh, Diiiiiinosaur!"
Slap hand on thighs to sound like running footsteps.
Repeat, counting up to five.]

Five little dinosaurs went out to play,
One a giant fern one day.
They had such enormous fun,
That they played all day until the day was done!

If it's a small group, I let the kids put the pieces on the board.  At the end, we name each dinosaur.  I also had to explain what the fern frond pieces were before we started. [I inherited these pieces, but you could easily make your own using clip art or coloring pages as templates, then use a pen to add the details.]

"Dinosaurs Lived Long Ago"
(movement rhyme)

Dinosaurs lived long ago,
Some walked,  (walk in place)
Some swam,  (pretend to swim)
Some flew, you know!  (flap arms)

Some were big, (hold hand up about shoulder height)
Some were small, (hold hand about a foot above floor)
Some were GIGANTIC,  (hold arms out very wide)
And VERY tall!  (stretch and hold hand as high as possible)

Footprint Comparison Activity

Triceratops Footprint

I found a printable template for a life-size triceratops footprint on the website for Schleich, a company that sells action figures but also has several downloadable activities.  I printed out the 12 pages of the template, taped them together, then cut it out.  After that, I traced around it onto bulletin board paper and cut that out.  I laminated both the template and the final piece to help them last longer.  Then I cut out a bunch of footprints the size of the average 4-year old child's foot from craft foam.

First I would lay the dinosaur footprint out without telling the kids what it was and see if they could guess.  The green color would throw them off at first (which was not intentional, just what I had handy) and they would guess "leaf".  When I told them it wasn't a leaf, then some would usually say "footprint" and I would ask what kind and they would usually say "dinosaur footprint".  I would then ask what dinosaur they thought made it, and most would say "T. rex".  Then I would tell them it was a triceratops footprint, and ask how many of their footprints did they think would fit in a triceratops footprint.  After that, I would hand them each two of the foam footprints and let them come up and place their footprints in the triceratops footprint, and at the end we would count them  (I made 24 kid footprints, which fit with room for probably 6 more).

You could also let the kids stand on the dinosaur footprint to see how many would fit, but since I needed the footprint to last through many storytimes, I choose to use the foam cutouts to extend the life of the triceratops footprint.

How It Went
This theme was a lot of fun.  I would say the books that were the biggest hits were Snappy Little Dinosaurs, I'm Big!, and I'm Bad!  I also go a great compliment from one of the teachers at our newest preschool, who told me I had a "really nice reading voice."  Laurie Berkner's "We Are The Dinosaurs" was by far the biggest hit of the songs and activities, with groups often asking to do it 2 or 3 times.  I like using the simple "Ten Big Dinosaurs" as well, because it works on their fine motor dexterity and counting both up and down, which is more challenging.  They were all amazed at how many of their footprints could fit inside the dinosaur footprint.  One thing I was surprised by is the "Dino Ditty" kind of fell flat, though when I've used it before, the kids loved it.  Go figure.

I tried to work in some discussion of carnivore verses herbivore, different kinds of dinosaurs, and fossils and paleontology.  One thing that was kind of funny was that a couple of stories featured pteranodons and pterosaurs, and the kids would often try to correct me and argue that they were pterodactyls and I would have a hard time convincing them that there were other kinds of flying prehistoric reptiles besides the pterodactyls.  They also laughed and though I was joking when I said that some dinosaurs were the size of a chicken.  They just could not wrap their heads around the idea that not all dinosaurs were huge.  I also got a lot of giggles and "Ewww" when I told them that in addition to fossilized bones and eggs, that there is also fossilized dinosaur poop!  (It's called "coprolite," by the way). 

There were three days I ended up going to the daycares myself and going into the classroom rather than having the bus, and I was surprised at how some of the classes acted like they had never been to storytime before and had no clue how to act, just because we changed the location, while others were perfectly fine.  (Staff, too!  I had two aides sitting in the back playing cards at one daycare).  One day was because the bus was in the shop, and the kids were very concerned about it's well-being.  Once I assured them that it would be fine and we would have it the next time, one little boy asked me where my "husband" was, meaning our driver (who is easily old enough to be my father)!  He got a kick out of that when I told him.  I told him the kids assume we are a couple, like Santa and Mrs. Claus. :)

Now, I'm off to make some tea to sooth my throat.  I've got to remember to pace myself with the roaring!

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