Thursday, April 7, 2011

5 Good Resources for Learning and Teaching About Dinosaurs

As an elementary school student I loved reading books about dinosaurs and I especially enjoyed a field trip to a local museum where we could look at fossils and touch fossil replicas. I also had a collection of plastic model dinosaurs. Recently, one of my friends mentioned in an email that his son is now into learning about dinosaurs. Reading that email prompted me to look for a few web-based games about Dinosaurs. Here are some of the better items that I found.

1. Discovery Channel's Dinosaur Central has games, quizzes, puzzles, and a virtual prehistoric zoo. Students can also go back in time to see, displayed on a map, the dinosaurs that walked in different places of the earth.

2. Kids Dinos is a part of the Kids Know It Network. Kids Dinos offers elementary school students an easy-to-navigate and easy-to-understand database of dinosaur information. Students can learn the names of various dinosaurs through a flashcard game. Kids Dinos also offers students fun activities like "make your own dinosaur," "dinosaur memory," "dinosaur hangman," or "dinosaur painter."

3. The Dinosphere is a website hosted by The Children's Museum of Indianapolis. In the Dinosphere students can choose from five games and activities including building a virtual dinosaur.

4. Scholastic offers students a dinosaur tour, a dinosaur picture book, and a "digging for dinosaurs" fact hunt. Scholastic offers teachers some lesson plans and research projects about dinosaurs.

5. National Geographic Kids has a few dinosaur themed games and displays including this dinosaur brain teaser game. On National Geographic Xpeditions teachers will find a handful of lesson plans like How Do Scientists Find Dinosaur Fossils? that can be used for teaching about dinosaurs in elementary school classrooms.

On the topic of dinosaurs, Snag Films offers National Geographic's Dinosaur Hunters: Secrets of the Gobi Desert.
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Pet Fundango - Make Pets a Part of Your Lessons

When I was in the sixth grade we had guinea pigs (named Chubby and Checkers) and hamsters in our classroom. It was great fun and a good lesson in communal responsibility. Each week a different classmate was selected (if the parents had consented) to take the guinea pigs home for the weekend. In fact, the weekend that my next door neighbor took Chubby and Checkers home, Chubby had babies.

Pet Fundango is a website designed for elementary school teachers who have small pets in their classrooms. Pet Fundango offers nineteen lesson plans based around small classroom pets. Some of the lesson plans require you to have a classroom pet, but most of them do not. For example, the lesson plan Fur, Feathers, and Scales can be used with K-2 students even if you don't have classroom pets.

Applications for Education
If you're an elementary school teacher considering bringing a small pet into your classroom, Pet Fundango is the site for you. In addition to lesson plans, Pet Fundango offers helpful advice about bringing a pet into your classroom.

Online Games and Hands-on Science Lessons

Science offers sixteen free online science games for students . The games are designed for i elementary age students to explore a variety of science concepts including energy, genetics, environmental science. Each game is accompanied by a set of links to support and complement the content that game addresses.

Applications for Education 
The online games are designed for students of elementary school age, but would be useful in middle school setting as well. Science Museum also offers lesson plans featuring hands-on science activities appropriate for all grades from elementary school into high school.

Geography Games from Reach the World

Reach the World produces good online games for geography students. The GeoGames from Reach the World feature an interactive map which students drag and drop onto different elements. The beginner level games asks has student place continents and the poles in the correct position. As the games levels progress students have to place countries and capitals in their proper positions. In the Build Planet Earth section students have to place continents, oceans, mountains, and rivers in their proper positions.

Watch the video below to learn more about GeoGames from Reach the World.

Applications for Education 
The Geography Games from Reach the World are designed for elementary school students as a way to learn the locations of physical and political geographic features. When students have successfully built their maps the maps can printed and used for review offline.

Memrise - Learn a Language

Memrise is a new service designed to help you learn a language. Like a lot of services in the language learning market Memrise offers flashcards for studying words. What makes Memrise more than a flashcard service is that they also offer audio pronunciations of the words and in many cases videos that feature people using the words and or acting the words. For example, in the set of French cards "un baiser" features a video of someone blowing a kiss to the camera.

Memrise welcomes contributions from its members. Members can add words, word lists, videos, and audio files.

Applications for Education
Memrise could be a good resource for those who want to learn a language on their own. Students who would like study materials to supplement what they've been provided in school should also take a look at Memrise.

H/T to EduTecher.