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Day 7 - Dinosaurs (creative ideas for teaching English and maths at home)

Dinosaurs

Dinosaurs are such an amazing stimulus. Considering the areas of the curriculum we have covered thus far, I wanted to tune into non-fiction writing and use all of the fascinating facts and figures available to us. So today, we have made our own Top Trump fact files.


We hope you like the ideas...


Maths

  • reading and writing numbers

  • comparing numbers

  • place value

  • weights and measures

We began the day with a game of Dinosaur Top Trumps. It always amazes me how something so simple can provide so much entertainment, but my boys love it! As the game played out, we revisited certain mathematical skills and concepts.


1) Reading numbers

The boys struggled with some of the larger numbers, especially when they got into the hundreds of thousands. To help them with this, I introduced them to the comma family. The concept is simple:

  • each comma has a name that is said as you read the number

  • there are 3 digits between commas (don't forget the 0 place holders if required)


Having established the rules, the boys practised saying different numbers. The one above would be: 1 (Bobby) billion, 248 (Molly) million, 120 (Tommy) thousand, 392.


As they grow in confidence, just get them to say their surnames. I have used this strategy with all age groups and it has never failed.


2) Converting measures

The Dinosaur Top Trump cards explore metres and kg. We therefore recapped:

  • 1kg = 1000g

  • 1m = 100cm

I then sporadically asked them to convert their values as they played.

e.g. length 1.8m, which is 180cm

English

  • Information text (top trumps)

  • Rhetorical question

  • Comparatives and superlatives

  • Similes

  • Fronted adverbials


The problem with a Top Trump card is that, whilst it is packed with fascinating facts, it is not written to hook in or engage the reader. Therefore, today's mission was to elevate a Top Trump playing card into a fascinating fact file. Here is what we did:


  1. We began by choosing a Top Trump card each that caught our interest. I chose a Gigantosaurus (which is how I am feeling being in lockdown), Josh chose an Oviraptor because of its strange face, and Archie chose a Liopleurodon because it had the highest killer rating.

  2. We raided the card for interesting facts and then turned our attention to the internet to gather more intriguing details. This also gave me the perfect opportunity to remind the boys how to use the internet safely and appropriately, something that I know concerns us all. The boys took notes in their jotters, ready for their fact file.

  3. With all of the information that we needed at our fingertips, we set to writing our fact files. To help the boys, I introduced them to some Talk for Writing sentence stems and fronted adverbials, perfect for information writing.


  • Did you know that …?

  • Amazingly, …

  • In addition, …

  • Generally, ... like to

  • The most extraordinary thing about …

  • The first thing to say about … is/are …

  • It is a little-known fact that …

  • Normally, … is/are found in …

  • You may not know but …

  • Usually, …


I modelled how to write my own fact file and then they created their own, raiding their facts and the key sentence signposts. This also allowed me to discuss how to use the 'Did you know...?' rhetorical question to hook the reader in, as well as the use of comparatives (bigger / smaller) and superlatives (biggest / smallest) in context.


Here is the shared writing model, followed by Josh and Archie's fact files. I also couldn't resist having a go at sketching my dinosaur - such fun!


Gigantosaurus


Top Trumps Fact File

Did you know that the Gigantosaurus was the biggest and deadliest known meat-eater? Amazingly, it had 80 serrated teeth, the longest of which was thought to have been 20cm long. The most extraordinary thing about this dinosaur is that it could swallow a human in one bite; it's head was 6 foot long! It is a little-known fact that the Gigantosaurus could run for long distances at a speed of around 50km/hour. In addition, it had massive leg muscles that acted as shock absorbers as it ran.



Height: 6 metres (600cm)

Weight: 8,000 kg (that's about two elephants)

Length: 16 metres (1,600cm)

Killer rating: 10/10

Intelligence: 7/10

Age: 100 million years old (100,000,000)


© Jamie Thomas 2020


Oviraptor

Top Trumps Fact File

Did you know that the Oviraptor had a strange toothless beak, perfect for cracking eggs. Amazingly, its name meant egg thief. Usually, it moved on two legs. It is a little-known fact that it was an omnivore, which means it ate meat and plants. Normally Oviraptors were found in Mongolia around 80 million years ago.


Height: 0.8 metres

Weight: 20 kg

Length: 1.8 metres

Killer rating: 5/10

Intelligence: 8/10

Age: 70 million years old (70,000,000)


by Joshua


Liopleurodon

Top Trump Fact File

Did you know that the Liopleurodon was 20 times heavier than a T-rex? You may not know but the enormous Liopleurodon is the largest meat eater ever known to grace the earth but it lived under water. Since the Liopleurodon had lungs but no gills on them they'd surface through water occasionally for rapid gulps of air to help them breathe.


Height: 5 metres

Weight: 100,000 kg (that's about 25 elephants)

Length: 23 metres

Killer rating: 10/10

Intelligence: 5/10

Age: 140 million years old


by Archie


If you have enjoyed reading this blog, please do follow us. Alternatively, you may like to follow me on Twitter: @JamieWTSA.


My thanks to Pie Corbett and Talk for Writing for inspiring many of the ideas explored.

Do tune in tomorrow where the stimulus is my choice... potions! JT

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