Pizza, Please!

Story Time & Imaginative Play The fondest childhood memories of pizza I have are from Chuck-E-Cheese. The grease, the tokens, the religious fervor with which I worshiped that weird rodent mascot; it all brings back the first moment of bliss in which pizza is distilled into a child’s life. The pacifying equality of pizza in a busy

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Dinosaur Day

Story Time & Paleontology

Hands down, my favorite day of the year is dinosaur day. I’m like a giant kid when it comes to dinosaurs. I want to talk about paleontology, fossilization, and all the constantly updating factoids about our feathered, speckled and extinct friends, until I’m blue in the face. You know who also loves to do that? Kids. So I’m in the right field.

Research is continuously revealing information about what walked, swam and flew around earth so many millions of years ago (between 250-65 million years ago, to be exact) which makes teaching children about dinosaurs so exciting: what we learn today is always expanding, the information is never finite, and there is no end in sight about what we have yet to unveil about these creatures.

So how do we tackle such a huge subject in a 45-minute Story Time? It’s a practice in breaking off huge chunks of information and whittling it down into bite-sized curiosities. As always, our mission as educators, librarians, parents and caregivers is to keep kids curious.

Here’s a basic time line from Enchanted Learning that can be written up on a whiteboard for reference:

How I taught it: Take a page from Parenting Science and teach concepts, not statistics. I talked about what which dinosaurs ate meat (carnivores) and which ate plants (herbivores), and we compared sizes of dinosaurs by using our size vocabulary words: bigger, smaller, taller, wider, biggest, smallest, littlest, etc. Use really interesting and intricate illustrations to hold their attention and to really show them something real–like representations of fossils. A really kid-friendly explanation of fossil creation is on page 2 of my parent handout below.

Dinosaur Days Story Time Handout

Story Time: Dinosaurs and Bones from Samantha Colwell

Books To Read:

Explaining Extinction, Fossils & Paleontology

Edwina, The Dinosaur Who Didn’t Know She Was Extinct by Mo Willems

  • Let’s be clear, Mo Willems is a literary hero AND he created Sheep in the Big City in the early 2000’s. Can’t go wrong with any of his masterpieces.
  • A great segue into discussing extinction and what it means for an animal to be extinct.

Tyrannosaurus Wrecks! by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen 

  • This book is colorful, catchy, with a clever rhyme scheme and a moral about forgiveness.
  • I love the chanting of Tyrannosaurus wrecks! every time the poor dinosaur demolishes his friends’ work.
  • Integrates the scientific names for dinosaurs

Dinosaur Bones by Bob Barner 

  • As far as non-fiction selections go, this takes the cake for its multiple levels of information.
  • An easy, paced read about dinosaur bones and excavation.
  • Select how in-depth you want the information to be or go for a story walk through the colorful, playful dinosaur images.

Scaly Spotted Feathered Frilled: How do we know what the dinosaurs really looked like? by Catherine Thimmish 

  • Another charming non-fiction option that gives you different levels of information to use depending on what age group you’re working with.
  • Explores the work of the paleoartist, a very important and often overlooked title that helps us imagine what dinosaurs looked like through use of science.

 

 

Songs, Rhymes & Activities

Action Song: Dinosaur, Dinosaur from Storytime Katie
(To the tune of Teddy bear, Teddy bear, turn around)

Dinosaur, dinosaur, turn around
Dinosaur, dinosaur, touch the ground
Dinosaur, dinosaur, reach up high
Dinosaur, dinosaur, wink one eye
Dinosaur, dinosaur, touch your nose
Dinosaur, dinosaur, touch your toes
Dinosaur, dinosaur, slap your knees
Dinosaur, dinosaur, sit down please

Flannel Rhyme: 5 Enormous Dinosaurs from Sunflower Storytime 
Five enormous dinosaurs letting out a roar.
One stomped away (stomp, stomp, stomp stomp)
and then there were four.

Four enormous dinosaurs knocking down a tree. Clunk!
One stomped away (stomp, stomp, stomp stomp)
and then there were three.

Three enormous dinosaurs eating tiger stew. Ew!
One stomped away (stomp, stomp, stomp stomp)
and then there were were two.

Two enormous dinosaurs sitting under the sun.
One stomped away (stomp, stomp, stomp stomp)
and then there was one.

One enormous dinosaur having no fun.
He stomped away (stomp, stomp, stomp, stomp)
and then there were none!

Dinosaur Clips Exercise: Use clothespins and a dinosaur cut out to make a matching activity which pairs letter, number, shape and color recognition with fine motor skill practice. I drew the dinosaur outline and printed several out on thick card-stock paper. I was lucky enough to have dot stickers for the clothespins but you can use paper and tape as well.

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Make a Vowel-osaurus Rex!: I cut up shapes from various shades of green paper and drew some vowels on them. This is a pretty abstract one, but it’s simple and allows kids to recognize vowel letters and work with shapes at the same time.

Vowel-osaurus Rex

Fine Motor Skills Sensory Bin: Paleontology Practice! I used a regular plastic bin and a bag of sand, covering plastic figurine dinosaurs so that just enough of them were showing. For our paleontology tools we used little plastic paint brushes. The point of this task is that the kids have to harness their hang strength and wrist accuracy in order to lightly brush the sand off, when everything inside of them is shouting RIP THE DINOSAUR OUT OF THE SAND, HURRY! So keep them patient and moving their hands and wrists with purpose. Then, after their patience has been tried enough, let ’em rip the dinos out and see if they can guess which kind they found!

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Here’s a nifty little Boomerang video of some swiping action!

Helpful Links

What Are Fossils? with kidsdinos.com

Parenting Science: Teaching Paleontology 

Kids Science Careers – Sally Walker on Paleontology 

 

As always, keep kids curious! Send me a message or comment with your ideas & concerns for your next dinosaur day. 

 

Voting

Story Time & Political Science So, Josh and I had some pretty strong feelings about the election turn out this year. And it’s looking like most of America is feeling the same way. That fateful night some months ago we watched that little map on our television turn a bright blood red from one state to

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Clouds

Story Time & Earth Science The three branches of science are: Life Science, Physical Science, and Earth Science. Life Science is probably the one kids will be most familiar with when they’re heading toward junior high, the studies of living organisms, life processes, and biology. Physical Science deals with inanimate matter and energy, like physics

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We Love Bugs

Story Time & Phobias

Okay, we don’t really love bugs, but they’re interesting creatures sharing the planet with us. Children are born mostly without judgment about creepy crawlies, until mom and dad scream in horror at a giant hairy spider. My boyfriend Josh once compared the size of a camel cricket to a bus and left it under a glass in the hall overnight. I’ve left a still running shower over a daddy long legs spider.

Evidence suggests that before the age of four, children don’t exhibit phobia. It’s as they get older they start to attach behaviors to fears and sublimate their anxiety into phobic panic.

Bugs are one of the most common phobias for children and adults. Children observe behaviors and soak up experiences, collecting data about how to react in certain situations. This can be totally great and life-saving when collecting data about not walking blindly into traffic, or touching the hot stove, or watching reality TV (just kidding). But when it comes to harmless critters (not poisonous bugs, mind you) extreme reactions can influence stress in situations that just don’t require it, and can lead to more phobic behaviors in the long term.

Parents and guardians are pillars of trust and imitation; the way you react to your fears will very much be an example to your children.

So let’s get our anxieties in check about some common bugs that will be found in the home or just outside the door.

We Love Bugs! Story Time Plan

Brochure/Parent Handout example:

Books to Read: Dialogic Reading Examples 

Miss Spider’s Tea Party by David Kirk

  • Have the children pretend to sip tea whenever you read the word “tea” on the page. It’ll become a workout.
  • Ask the children why they think the other bugs are frightened of Miss Spider. Are spiders typically friendly to other bugs?

 Can You Make a Scary Face? By Jan Thomas

  • Take a moment to imitate the faces, gestures, and movements Jan Thomas takes us through.
  • Overcoming fears is a great topic of discussion here: ask the children what scares them, then discuss how to self soothe by making scary faces at their fears.

 

 

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

  • One of everyone’s favorite Carle books with some tactile flip page action.
  • Great number practice: Count along with the children all the items the caterpillar eats.

Songs, Rhymes, and Activities 

Itsy Bitsy Spider with Sign Language component for ASL learning. I love using ASL wherever I can in Story Times. Here’s a great example from My Smart Hands on Youtube:

Buzz Buzz Buzz: Body Parts & Bumble Bees

(Use a puppet or prop for this song, even just a print out of a bee to pass out to the kids words well)

Buzz buzz buzz, there’s a bumble bee, (use the prop to fly the bumble bee around in the air)
buzz buzz buzz there’s a bumble bee,
buzz buzz buzz there’s a bumble bee,
there’s a bumble bee on your HEAD! (Let the children shout out the body part that the bee lands on)

(Continue the rhyme with “Head”, “shoulder”, “arm”, “knee”, “foot”, etc. Usually what gets a big laugh is “tongue”)

Craft: Wiggly Cheerio Worms 

There’s a great step by step tutorial on these worms at MamasLikeMe.com, and the kids at my Story Time loved it.

 

All you need are pipe cleaners and cheerios. I pre-glued googly eyes onto the ends of some pipe cleaners (for my ages 2-5) and left the googly eyes off for the youngest lap-sit ages, much to the gratitude of the lap-sit parents. You can make pre-sorted baggies with the pipe cleaner and 15-20 cheerios in each bag for an easier set up.

Let the children string cheerios onto the pipe cleaners, utilizing the strength and precision of their little fingers. Once they’ve strung all their cheerios, they’ll want to take them all off and do it again.

For a more permanent wiggly worm, you can use jumbo beads at home. Cheerios happen to be a very cost-effective activity, though.

Helpful References on Children & Phobias:

Wiki How: Help A Child Overcome A Fear Of Bugs 

Today’s Parent: An age-by-age guide to children’s phobias