I had the pleasure of visiting the Amherst Cooperative Nursery School recently. The four-year-old group was in the midst of their dinosaur unit, and thought I would share my one-hour author visit.
It began with introducing them to my songbook, Dig A Dinosaur. As we sang the first page together, I shared a little bit about my dinosaur dig in Bozeman, Montana. The dig site was located in the Badlands, so I had to stay in one of the Blackfoot tepees to the left of my hat in the photo. Daytime temperatures averaged about 100˚, so I had to wear a hat to help protect me from dehydration.
A common activity I use with Pre-K through first grade is dramatizing the song. I have found that interactive text helps support emergent readers and ESL students. The children learned that digging for dinosaur bones takes a lot of time and patience. Sometimes the paleontologist will use a rock hammer and chisel, but most of the time a dental pick, brush and epoxy are most helpful. (The little actress in the photo is using a toy hammer and chisel to tap out the beat of the song.)
For the pages that deal with the nest of eggs, I have found that a puppet works well. The actress used the action word, hatch as her cue. Have you ever thought of using a songbook like this when you’re students are learning about “eggs and spring time babies? Most paleontologists believe that dinosaurs were oviparous beings. So, now you know that chickens aren’t the only ones.
The next part of the song deals with most children’s favorite dinosaur, T-Rex. The student with the plastic megaphone roared when it got to his key word in the text.
A “magic” game of reaching into a bag and differentiating between a fossilized horse tooth (plant eater) and a tooth cast from T-Rex (meat eater) helped reinforce vocabulary such as: triangle, sharp and pointed.
The next performer in the Dig A Dinosaur show included the actor with the full sized T-Rex puppet. He bit a smaller stuffed dinosaur three times to the beat of meat-meat-meat. The final two performers acted out the eating of plants, and the meteor hitting the earth by clashing small cymbals. It was definitely a Dino-mite visit!