Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Dino Shapes and Learning Through Play!

We were hoping to spend a good three hours hiking in Government Canyon this weekend to see the recently-discovered 110-million year old dino prints found in a dried up creek bed. (This is pretty much the only positive side effect I know of from global warming.)  Anyway, a random south Texas cold front + rain meant we weren't hiking anywhere. (Don't fret, it wasn't enough rain to refill that river bed!) To go along with our trip to see Acrocanthosaurus, I designed a dinosaur shape activity that actually turned out amazing!

First, I spent about an hour cutting shapes into cardstock during nap on Friday. At first I considered doing all green but I already had sheets of the random colors and thought it might be a little more fun, anyway. I will say that I was ecstatic to see Zayd pick colors that weren't blue (in addition to using nearly everything that was). The old me would have eyeballed the shapes and called it a day, but now that I have a child in Montessori, I felt responsible for maintaining some of the concepts they work on so actively in the classroom.

I also made a model that the kids could use to see what is possible. Zayd is not apt to jump right in so I think it is imperative that I give him a clue as to the "right" way to do something (his words, not mine...we are working on that). I brought in Zayd's favorite book (of all time?) National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Dinos to give him some inspiration and it worked perfectly. By the way, if your kiddo likes dinos, just go by the book now. We read all 130+ pages twice a day, every day UNLESS someone stops by in which case we take the time to read it to them as well.

While I tried to make my dino on cardstock (not using a real dino inspiration), I found I was running out of space. For the kids, I decided to use contact paper so we wouldn't have to mess with gluesticks and we could break out of the 8.5x11 box. (Gluesticks look too much like chapstick and the lolly especially can't resist.) I taped down the dino paper, sticky side up and let them have at it.

The lentil picked Stegosaurus first. We got to work on concepts of shapes, obviously, but also counting, observation, fine motor skills and hand eye coordination: getting four legs in a row is nontrivial work when you are three! We also had great conversations about which size rectangle we would need and concepts of scale: "are his legs bigger or smaller than his tail?"

Z put two triangles together to make food for our dino and discovered, much to his surprise, a square! It was definitely a "Montessori at home" win.

This little guy was proud.

You may have noticed that Zahra's contact paper didn't get adorned with any dino parts. She also loves dinos but isn't quite up to the challenge we had here, though i invited her to play along with us. We decided that she found the tactile play involved in running over her sticky contact paper much more to her liking so that is what she did.

And some of this every time I turned around. That is her bottle of vitamins. She moved the furniture to build a climbing apparatus. 

Zayd moved on to make a Carnotaurus (the funniest dino because of his teeny tiny baby arms - we didn't have any pieces tiny enough) and a Mamenchisaurus who had the longest neck of any animal every living. 

OH! And i made a Scansoriopteryx because I didn't think the triangles were getting enough love. :)

We will definitely be doing this again and again, likely with different inspiration. And i decided that #2 of Zayd's three presents needs to be this awesome toy

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