Monday, January 28, 2013

Nursery School and Prehistoric Play!

This week and last we have been exploring Dinosaurs at Nursery School. All of the children, including both boys and girls, have really been enjoying the topic. The topic also lends itself to great language, math, science, sensory and dramatic play opportunities. When planning any of the Nursery School themes the learning goals and objectives are planned out to ensure that each opportunity to play is serving a purpose. So if you have a dinosaur lover, take advantage of the many learning opportunities that can present themselves!

Contributing to the children's exposure to language and reading is always a priority. Some of the language activities that we have focused on have included the numerous books available on dinosaurs - from science books to stories with dinosaur characters. Two of my favourites are Patricks Dinosaurs and the Curious George dinosaur book. We have also been brainstorming the many synonyms for the word 'big' to emphasize how huge dinosaurs really were.

The dramatic play with dinosaurs has included a natural area with logs, sticks and rocks and dinosaur figures to go exploring. The children are also using mini dinosaurs in the block area to make caves and houses for the dinosaurs. The favourite dramatic game has definitely been pretending to be dinosaurs while running through the indoor playground of course!

Number concepts have worked their way into dinosaur themed number songs, matching games as well as comparing the size and weights of the dinosaurs to various things surrounding the children today - for example, did you know that a Brachiosaurus weighed as much as ten elephants or that a Stegosaurus measured as long as 5 cars?! Comparing the dinosaurs to things the children can picture helps to put their size into perspective.

You cannot bring up dinosaurs without including a myriad or science concepts. Discussions on where the dinosaurs lived, what they ate as well as their environment had many of the children eager to participate. The children also very much enjoyed being preschool Paleontologists and digging for dinosaur bones as well as brushing them off and spraying them down afterwards - all offering excellent science, sensory and fine motor opportunities.

The children have explored their artistic talents through painting giant dinosaur murals, ripping paper and gluing the bits as scales onto dinosaurs and today creating fossils with baking soda clay. The children really liked the sensory experience of kneading the clay and then using various shells and dinosaur to make prints. The baking soda clay was very easy to make and used items you probably have in your kitchen. It consisted of 2 cups of baking soda, 1 cup of corn starch and 1 1/4 cups of water. To begin, mix the ingredients in a pot and heat over medium heat while stirring continuously for about 5 minutes. When it begins to look like mashed potatoes remove it from the heat and let it cool. You can begin to mould the dough or store it in an airtight container. It will need overnight to dry and then can be painted the next day.

Dough looking like mashed potatoes.

Dough rolled into balls ready for the children to knead and flatten.

Fossils set out to dry.

Lastly, if you are able to squeeze in a trip to the Museum of Nature to visit the dinosaurs, which is our plan for this weekend, you have completed a very thorough exploration of a preschool dinosaur theme. Hopefully this has given you some new ideas to share with your little ones. What are your favourite dinosaur themed activities?


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