Did you know that October is International Dinosaur Month? That’s right! It’s true that October is the month of explorers and apples and Halloween happenings. And . . . it’s also loaded with plenty of opportunities to ponder those prehistoric creatures. Wondering how to start your students off in their studies? How about taking a peek into paleontology?
Check out The Walking Classroom’s Science Career Series podcasts, and hear from Dr. Paul Brinkman. He is Head of the History of Science Research Lab, and he is Curator of Special Collections at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. The podcast with Dr. Brinkman can be downloaded from our website. You can find it on WalkKits in three of The Walking Classroom’s program offerings too.
• Program 4 – #93
• Program 5 – #99
• STEM – #50
The podcast is a perfect starting point from which to spring into your study of all things prehistoric. In it, Dr. Brinkman talks about his own work in paleontology. He also discusses past paleontologists, including his favorite from the late 19th century, Elmer Riggs.
Want to learn more? Dig deeper with the help of internet resources. A helpful website, What is a Paleontologist? clarifies key terminology. It also explains the link between paleontologists and dinosaurs, and it even has a quiz to test students’ knowledge!
And there are plenty of paleontologists to learn about besides Dr. Brinkman’s favorite, Elmer Riggs. Learn about other notable folks in the field — both past and present. Have your students work individually or in pairs to research famous paleontologists. When they have gathered their facts, have them share their findings.
As a wrap-up, create a class timeline! Students can add their paleontologist’s name, photograph, and three to five key facts or findings. A practice like this provides a quick summary of what students have learned. It also helps keep essential information in plain sight too!
Looking for a “field” trip? Perhaps it’s not possible to take a trek too far afield. You need not worry though. Your class can always visit a museum . . . virtually. They’ll get to know different dinosaurs through a self-guided tour of The American Museum of Natural History. The available videos will also support your study by providing helpful visuals!
After all this, your students are really “digging” dinosaurs. Why not experience an expedition? That’s easily done by visiting a dinosaur dig in Montana via a blog post from the Smithsonian Institution.
And that’s not all! Go beyond virtually browsing exhibit halls and digging for dinosaurs! Explore The American Museum of Natural History’s array of dinosaur-related activities. Flesh out a Dinosaur, Dinosaur Names Activity, and Grouping Dinosaurs are especially engaging!
Vivid visuals are helpful instructional tools too! For the budding explorer of science and nature, National Geographic serves as a great resource. Check out Dinosaurs 101, one of their videos celebrating dinosaurs, and you can learn more!
For a different experience, why not Adopt-a-Dinosaur? Concerned about prehistoric pandemonium? Have no fear! Your new friend will not be joining in on any classroom activity. However, your students’ newfound knowledge of the prehistoric creatures will! The fun facts they find through their research will add to the classroom experience!
Afterward, you’ll need a way to wrap things up and you may want to assess your students’ understanding too. Why not create a follow-up activity? Trivia games and scavenger hunts are popular possibilities. Now that they are dinosaur experts, your students will be able to help create some clever questions! And, they’ll likely be quick to answer too!
Looking to extend your study of dinosaurs even further? You can dive into additional available resources, or you can embark on your own explorations. With National Fossil Day (October 17) just around the corner, there’s no better time to do some digging of your own! Who knows what you’ll uncover?
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