Dinosaur Day Thematic Unit Giveaway {Three Prizes}

Teaching thematic units can be extremely rewarding. Integrated curriculum reaches a variety of learning styles by helping students to take control of their own learning while having tons of fun. Instruction is planned to accommodate individual interests while fostering teamwork.  The curriculum is centered around a theme with hands on activities while working on in-depth content.  A thematic approached is achieved by weaving  various content areas around a central idea. 

I allow my learning schedule or school events to guide my decisions on what theme to do and when.  I don't teach themes each week due to expectations set by my country.  However, I set aside time to ensure my students are enriched in collaborative projects that stem beyond textbooks through flexible scheduling to ensure my students have an opportunity to take charge of their learning.  At this point, I'm a facilitator!  

Each year, the art teacher works on specific clay projects with the kids.  In kindergarten, the kids learned to make ducks.  During this time they are exposed to vocabulary and tools for working with clay.  In first grade, the kids make dinosaurs.  We only have art every seven to eight days for 45 minutes so the projects are completed over a month.  Our next art session occurs after the clay projects are molded and incised, this is where the kids learn about and a layer of color called underglazes before the project is fired in a kiln.  The kids will visit art class to continue painting and glazing their projects over the next few weeks.  Once all projects K-5 are complete, we will host an Art Night where the parents come to see all their work and take home their project.  

Without hesitation, I jumped at an opportunity to diving into learning about the most famous prehistoric creatures.  With report writing and close reading up next during literacy block, I began a search for rich literature on the topic.  Here are a few books that became a big part of our next three weeks...

Literacy just won't do!  Rocks and soil, environments, and life cycles were our progression in science, so I couldn't resist a cross curricular theme unit.  

We started about three weeks ago with close reading of a National Geographic Book entitled Dinosaurs.

Tara West has a great packet that serves as a guide for our weekly lessons. She kept the packet at a reasonable price since you have to purchase the readers. Take a peek at her unit by clicking the image below.  I really enjoyed reading her post about how she implemented the reading passages.  My framework for our week mimic this format but the instruction was ramped up to ensure students were being enriched late in first grade. Check out her post and product for freebies on close reading here and here


To build excitement during the week, I placed a few model dinosaurs, purchased in the dollar spot at Target, in the middle of each team.

As early finishers, the kids were able to use the dinosaur assigned to their desk to create a diagram. Each day the dinosaurs were circulated to the next team.  By the end of the week, the kids had five diagrams/illustrations with a heading.  

During our writing block, students worked in groups to find facts for each dinosaur.  At this point, each child had created a diagram from the previous week and the dinosaurs had circulated back to the original table.  I was impressed by the kids determination as they dove into books looking for facts to record in their bubble maps.  Our planning took five days. 

Week one was finally complete.  Students dove deeply into research and close reading passages on all Terrible Lizards.  Accountable talk was at an all time high.  During our second week of writing, students took their collaborative bubble maps and wrote reports independently.  This is where kids took on a different pace and direction to their soon-to-be published books.  During readers workshop, we reviewed text features with a little freebie in my store {link here} that we constructed in November. This booklet served as a guide for various text features found in their reports.

This little guy made a cut out to show you T-Rex's tooth is the size of a ruler.  
Sure wish the picture would cooperate and face the correct direction.

On Friday, I stole their papers and turned them over to the librarian to laminate.  I'm thankful that my sweet husband was down for a night in watching Games of Thrones while I cut out their cover and back pages before I bound each book with a binding machine from Lakeshore Learning.  

I couldn't be more impressed with each and every student's dedication to create the most meaningful book for our reading celebration and art night event.  Oh boy, they're excited!


At the start of this week, the kids assisted in prepping our culminating event, DINO DAY!  This backdrop took blood, sweat, and laughter! 

Finally, the day arrived.  D-Day was epic!  We set up a massive tent in the media center to form our excavation site.  Warning tape roped off the doors to the library cautioning all that passed that young paleontologist were at work!

 A paleontologist isn't complete without his/her hat.  I found a great set of hats on Amazon for under eight dollars.  

We started our morning with Gail Gibbons book Dinosaurs with a meaningful discussion about vocabulary. With content under our belt, we were eager to assemble their own paleontologist from Deanna Jump's Dinosaur Math and Literacy Unit.

After lunch, the kids began rotating through various centers! During our rotations, students used Simply Skilled in Second Grade's Dinosaur Flip Flap Book.  They're about the coolest artifacts that come from each of our themed centers.  

Each station had one page of the flip flap book to complete....

Up first, we went to the excavation site to dig for fossils.  I purchased the excavation kit from Lakeshore Learning with digging tools, brushes, and 24 fossils.  The box contained a great variety for the kids to make comparisons.  The fossils are flexible and can withstand the punishment of 37 first graders digging, cleaning, holding, pressing, and any other verb you can describe during the 'GREAT HUNT'.  You'll need sand and containers but the smiles and connections are worth the additional pennies. 

Once the exploration was complete, groups filled out their "What is a fossil?" from the flip flap book before rotating to the fossil center.  I purchased a tub of Crayola Air Dry Clay from Target for around five dollars.  There was enough to create a fossil for all 37 students.  We used little plastic dinosaurs to create impressions and footprints.  

Before transitioning to the next station, students filled out the two fossil fact pages in their flip flap books.  The next center was another exploration kit I also purchased from Lakeshore Learning.  Pure excitement could be heard as my kiddos read and observed a Triceratops ungual, T-rex tooth, Oviraptor egg, and Allosaurus claw.  This kit held the kids fascination throughout their twenty minute center rotation. 

Using illustrations from our set design and a compare and contrast activity from Deanna's unit, the kids worked to sort facts based off their schema and observations.  

One of my most favorite centers of the day was the research center.  Students dove into more books to search for information. 

I about died when I saw the different answers for weight and height.  Kids can crack me up when saying the darndest things!

An effective theme unit creates a web of intricately connected meanings that provide a higher level of thinking and understandings.  Long after the facts are gone, students will carry an understanding that will live in their hearts and minds.

Are you interested in created a themed filled day or week of lessons?  I'm thrilled to present three wonderful prizes in a giveaway for you.  Lakeshore Learning has offered one Excavation Kit which will align beautifully with Deanna Jump's Dinosaur Literacy and Math Unit AND Simply Skilled in Second's Dinosaur Flip Flap Book so that you can plan fun filled themed lessons for your kiddos.  Giveaway is for one winner.  Selection will be made randomly on Sunday morning.  Good Luck!

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Rachelle Moore said...

My kids love dinosaurs, this is great!

Amanda said...

my own son is dino CRAZY! you would certainly make his day. EVERYNIGHT we read the dame rotation of dino books. he even wants to be a paleontologist when he grows up. repete_21@yahoo.com

Julie Davis said...

This is amazing!!! Definitely trying some of these things in my classroom!!!

ksteacher81 said...

I know my kiddos would love this!
Ruthanne rarace81@gmail.com

Unknown said...

We do a Dinosaur Day, but this puts ours to shame! I'm going to have to win these things to step up my game! :)


Unknown said...

WOW! What an incredible day of learning you created for your students! They look like they were having tons of fun and learning in the process! It doesn't get any better than that! I am soooooooo excited that they enjoyed my Dinosaur Flip Flap Book and it meshed well with your lessons and activities! Thank you for sharing your ideas and creativity with us!


Unknown said...

You are amazing! I want to visit your classroom and be a student in your room! Your kids are blessed!

Linda said...

I love all your dinosaur activities! That was one of the favorite themes of my kiddos last year!

Down the Learning Road

Unknown said...

What fun!

Unknown said...

Fantastic dino lesson!! Thanks so much for sharing!
Science for Kids Blog

Debra said...

This is a fabulous giveaway! Love all the work that you've done. Thank you for the opportunity!

T. Frezz said...

I am totally going to use your life size dino poster idea when I do my dino unit in two weeks! Thank you!

Erin Lukas said...

This is awesome!! I love how you did a big culminating event with the kiddos. Posts like this make me want to teach something other than special ed pre-k!

Mrs. Brown said...

Oh your unit is precious! All of the wonderful activities that you did with them look wonderful! I know my kids would love it!

I follow all the TpT stores and my username is Kelly Brown.

Thanks for the chance to win!
Kelly Brown/Mrs. Brown

Bobbie said...

Love this, so fun!

Unknown said...

Wow! You truly went above and beyond! Reading your post made me want to be in your classroom!


Mrs.Dorada said...

Wow! What great ideas. Thanks for sharing!

Jennifer Brown said...

This MAY be my favorite post of yours yet! I LOVE the theme, the centers, the interaction, the EVERYTHING! YOU ROCK!

Ellen said...

Looks like a lot of fun, Know my boys will love this!