As we began our morning journals, Jaylin started to talk about dinosaurs. She wanted to draw one in her journal, but she had never seen one. She knew of dinosaurs like T-Rex and started to draw it. What is your drawing a picture of? I asked.
“Its a dinosaur eating pizza.”
Do you think dinosaurs ate pizza during their time?”
She knew that dinosaurs did not eat pizza. She thought they ate other dinosaurs, and Kyle agreed by adding that dinosaurs ate meat. Annika then shared with the other students a poem she learned while at the museum. It helped her remember that some dinosaurs ate meat, but others ate plants. The students then realized that there are physical features which tell what dinosaurs ate.
But what are the features?
Jaylin thought that a Triceratops ate grass because the Triceratops and grass are the same color. So, does the color of the dinosaur warn animals to beware? Kyle thinks that maybe if they have small teeth, they might eat grass. Alex remembers seeing dinosaurs when she was with her grandmother and tried to remember what she learned. So much excitement was growing around the topic of dinosaurs. Mark and Jennifer quickly grabbed their journal to draw about dinosaurs. “Dinosaurs are meat eaters; I saw it on Dino Dan!” one of the children shouted. “Yeah, T-Rex is a meat eater,” Shirmar says as she scratches and bites at the air.
We set out to find out more about dinosaurs.
We started with something familiar. The students knew all about tracks which are animal footprints from our raccoon unit. With that previous knowledge in mind, we set up a station for them to discover more information about dinosaur tracks. Many of the students read about dinosaur tracks in books. They realized that Therapods, dinosaurs with only threes toes are carnivores. The students quickly learned that a carnivore is an animal that eats meat. They also read about dinosaur’s teeth like Kyle had suggested. Kyle checked his hypothesis against the information in the book and discovered that dinosaurs with flat teeth ate plants and dinosaurs with pointy teeth at meat. When Ms. Heidi, our literacy specialist from the Houston Public Library, came for her bi-weekly visit, she read a book about dinosaurs. The students knew so much information about dinosaur eating habits that they were making successful predictions about the story. The students were able to not only identify dinosaurs they knew, they were also able to tell the eating habits of dinosaurs they did not know.
How do all these books know so much about dinosaurs?
“Their fossils!” Annika added.
The students learned that fossils are create when