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How to make your own dinosaur museum 

As we’ve written about previously, we couldn’t take our students on their museum field trip this year.  This forced us to recreate a museum experience and I’m honestly glad it did.  A trip to the museum is amazing but it is contained in one day. Our unexpected change of plans made us able to repeatedly inquire and gradually create the experiences of that museum trip for weeks.

Once we told the kids that the plans to attend a museum couldn’t happen, without any hesitation they exclaimed that they would make their own Dinosaur Museum open to the whole school! Little did they know, we had already had a few plans for this museum up our sleeves ;).

The students were left to their own devices when deciding what they would like to display throughout their museum.  The parents were so sure that we teachers frantically set up the class a few days before and had the students rehearse; they were amazed when told the museum was created by the efforts of the students and their ingenuity, and not our desire to have a perfect museum. Here are some of the pictures of the museum:

Here are the displays we had outside of our classroom. The students really enjoyed making Roary the dinosaur, who greeted eveyone as they came in.

The infamous Bloodroar! This is how our dinosaur from the last post turned out! He was a huge hit and the students are still receiving compliments from the rest of the school to this day!

Here are one of the many exhibits the students created. We learned about the different eras dinosaurs lived. Each table group was turned into a Dino era with the accurate dinosaurs and climate that was common during the particular era.

Above each era exhibit, students made a sign  and added their own pictures about how they thought each era looked like.

Here is one of the many games the students decided to create and display. During our inquiry, students learned how to measure using non standard and standard units of measurements. They enjoyed measuring a to-scale dinosaur footprint. To make things interesting during the museum, the students thought they would make a guessing game where our visitors would have to guess the length and the width of the dinosaur footprint.

The popular Fossil Dig! A few weeks prior, the students had the chance to make their own fossils and dig them up like real paleontologists! 

The students thought it was important to show our visitors the different types of dinosaurs and animals that lived during the Dinosaur Eras. A few students were in charge of choosing one dinosaur and animal for each type and writing out an explanation. In the picture above you will see that there are two cards under the dinosaur type. Since everyone is not well versed in reading the invented spelling of a 6 year old, I thought it would be helpful for the visitors to be able to easily get the jist of the students explanation. The second card was written with each student. They had to pick the three most important points they wanted to share.

We had boards similar to this one all around the Museum to showcase all of the amazing work the students did throughout the unit! Although all of the planning was done by the students, a Museum Role play kit was created with awesome signs, tools and a word wall to further enhance the students’ learning experience. Here is a step by step guide on how to create a successful Museum Role play!
How to create a museum role play:

1) It was really important that before we started our journey of creating a museum that students actually knew what a museum was, its purpose and how one looked. to do that, we established what a museum is and what you see when you go there.  We were forced to go on virtual trips online this year which led us to watching tons of youtube clips of museums, plus there are a lot of children’s books that take place in a museum.


2) This was a step that came from students’ thinking on how to make the museum a safe and fun learning environment for everyone. We all sat down and created a Museum Agreement which acted as a guideline and the expectations for the Museum role play. Since the guideline was student initiated, the students took great care and pride in abiding by the agreements and enforcing them too 😉

3) build your exhibits slowly.  Introduce one aspect of the role play at a time so that students are able to master it and be confident in their play.

4) give them enough background information at their level that they get excited and want to act it out.

5) We also included play aspects – the time machine, photo booth, etc but made sure that those aspects also had math and language.

Enjoy your museum!  If you would like the signs we used, word wall, money, time travel language forms and more check out our role play in our tpt store.

museum cover

Dinosaur museum role-play

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Build a dinosaur skeleton from toilet paper rolls

build a dino skeletonOur PYP 1 class has an amazing unit on extinction.  They inquire into dinosaurs, fossils, and why things that used to be on Earth aren’t anymore.   We typically take a trip to the local natural history museum in Copenhagen so that the kids can touch skulls, see actual dino bones, and interact with fossils in person.  This year, Europe has a refugee crisis.  Which suddenly means that going across the bridge from Sweden to Denmark became an insurmountable obstacle of needing every child’s passport!

museum 1We wanted to duplicate the museum experience, which is what made us create the paleontology museum role play.  We figured out how to make fossils with salt dough but how would we get the huge skeletons?  Build one

Step 1) collect a million toilet paper rolls. Seriously, you’ll need a lot

Step 2) take a large piece of chart paper (or several taped together) and draw a rough outline of the Dino’s skeleton from one side

build a dino

Step 3) place yarn or strong string on the backbone of your drawing.

Step 4) have the kids place toilet paper rolls on the lines you’ve made for rib cages, legs and arms   On the backbone and tail they can start stringing the the rolls onto the string. (i.e the string is inside the rolls and then they tape the rolls together). We discovered that if you use masking tape, you will use mountains of tape. Go for duct tape if you can.

dino skeleton making

Step 5) once you have created a backbone and one side of the rib cage, use more string to hang your dino up. (You will probably have cheering children at this point.)

Step 6) talk about symmetry – build a duplicate rib cage so you have two of each rib, arm, leg, etc.  The kids love this step.

IMG_4348 (1)

Step 7) with rolled up paper create the claws/fingers and toes and attach to your arms and legs

Step 8) name your dino.  Pictured here is “Blood Roar”.  Proudly display in your museum.

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