Tuesday, April 21, 2015


This is not my first nor will it be my last Denver
picture on this blog.
Okay, I obviously love to put the word "-ology" in the title of all my programs because the kids just keep coming to everything with "ology" in it.

I also unabashedly love dinosaurs.

So when I put together a program that invited kids to geek out about dinosaurs, I was not at all playing.

And once I got to talking with the kids who attended, I knew I made the right decision.

This school year I've held more programming on after school and early-release days, and so I've kind of taken my programming in a new direction: fewer stations, more OMFG-this-is-so-crazy-let's-talk-about-this-information-together. And since the programming has happened on days when the kids HAVEN'T been sitting in one spot for six hours, and I can build in some regulation activities, I can give the kids what they want without worrying they'll fall asleep on me. And they want info, because brains are wired to seek it out.

So here's how Dinosaurology went!

1. Talked about six different dinosaurs before and after: This part was inspired by Sunflower Storytime's use of Listverse for Dinosaur Myths. It was actually really cool, too, because the dinosaur "before" pictures were all what I had learned about dinosaurs when I was their age! We made connections to science evolving and how there's sometimes multiple correct answers, or more correct ones, as investigation happens. Shout-out to Hollywood for releasing the "Jurassic World" trailer so close to my program, since I was able to reference that when talking about how Jurassic Park III actually featured one of the most realistic depictions of Spinosaurus and isn't your mind blown already?!

2. Build a fossil: Okay, I mean, not all at once.
Step 1:  I had pre-made tubs that I filled with pipe cleaners, tongue depressors, and pixie stix covered in dry rice. After I got through three of the dinosaurs, they had to pick out a few of these "fossil fragments" using plastic utensils. As for the pixie stix, they were reminded that while some fossil may LOOK like food we eat, they are actually made out of dinosaur bones so we will not be eating our fossils right now. Weirdly enough that worked. Once they found a few, they joined me back at the front of the room for more dinosaur before and after.
Step 2: We pretended that the fossil fragments they found were part of the same dinosaur. They assembled the pieces and glued them on a piece of paper. I told them about the Iguanodon, and how for years we thought that it had a horn, but it turns out that bone was probably a thumb spike.

3. Read a book: This was to pass the time while the glue dried-ish. I had the kids vote and they picked "Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs" by Mo Willems.

4. Paleoartistry: We talked a little bit how artists use the science surrounding dinosaurs to create the best drawings they can given current knowledge. A book that's great to demonstrate this, and share a few examples from, is "Scaly Spotted, Feathered, Frilled" by Catherine Thimmesh.They were then challenged to draw the type of dinosaur they thought their "fossil" may have come from.

Edited to add: Download my PPT here! Most before/after facts come from this Listverse post linked to by Sunflower Storytime.

If you're into geeking out about dinosaurs with me, here's the start a pretty perfect dinosaur documentary from the 1985, narrated by the late Christopher Reeve. It links dinosaurs with Nessie which probably explains My Thing About Cryptozoology:


  1. OMG Why didn't I see this blog a year ago? I love the before and after part! I just finished doing an -ology series of programs last year (of course I started with Dinosaurology!) Have you run a similar program since then?

    1. Hi Ms Fictious! I'm glad you found my blog. I actually haven't run a similar program since; in summer 2015 I moved into a more administrative role for a county system where I don't get to do programming like this :) It was still one of my favorite programs!