Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Coming of Life Follow-up work

We have really been enjoying learning about prehistoric life with our Second Great Lesson. We have done a little work on the Kingdoms of Life but my son was much more interested in prehistoric life so that is what we are working on now.

As you may have noticed, we love field trips! Following the First Great Lesson: The Beginning, we visited a nearby museum that focused on Geology. We touched on prehistoric life while we were there but there is another museum nearby that has more info on this subject. After we did the lesson and looked at the Timeline of Life for a couple of days, we ventured to the museum to learn more.

The museum has a spectacular display in the center lobby with two huge dinosaurs. The very long Argentinosaurus which stretches 140 feet long and the large carnivore Giganotosaurus which stands 23 feet tall. The Giganotosaurus may have hunted in packs and actually preyed upon the Argentinosaurus.

Giganotosauraus (jig-a-not-a-saur-us)
I think my son understands just how big the dinosaurs were, even without the Montessori dinosaur charts that we were missing in our lesson LOL.
Argentinosaurus head/neck
Center of the Argentinosaurus
Tail of the Argentiosaurus behind the Giganotosaurus
Not only does this museum have awesome dinosaur displays, but there is also a Timeline of Life room. I didn't get good pictures of this because I didn't have my "good" camera with me and it is a dark room with lighted displays.

My son loved the giant Sea Scorpion: Eurypterus hanging from the ceiling. There were small aquariums with scenes from each of the periods in the Paleozoic Era. 

A small series of displays showing how a fossil is formed and discovered.

There is a "play" area for the kids to explore which included a section on archeology. B found some dino bones.

More dino bones to explore

We continued our work at home. We used a science kit to create some fossils at home. Unfortunately, the materials in the kit were not great. I have posted before about my disappointment in The Young Scientists Club kits. We have had a few that were good in the past and I bought a bunch of them thinking they would be fun. After using several of them, I've found the materials to be quite poor, so bad in fact that it made it so that the experiment could not be performed. This fossil set was actually a replacement kit I got because I complained to them about others. I have decided never to buy these kits again. The ideas in the kit are fine but the materials included are not usable. If you would like to do this, just buy the plaster and skip the kit.

We made plaster of paris fossils using a small plastic dinosaur. The plaster was supposed to take 10mins to set but it took over an hour and even then it didn't hold the mold. It took 2 days to dry (I took it out of the cup and flipped it over after one day to dry the back). It also cracked around the mold. 

We also made a cast fossil that did not turn out at all. It was made in sand and the plaster pouring into it. This one never dried at all and we just threw away. We might just buy plaster and try it again another day.

Another part of the kit were these small pictures that show how a fossil is formed. They were in random order and he had to cut them out and put them in order.

We read this book before doing the kit, so he didn't have a problem putting it in order. This is a really nice book that explains fossils well.
Fossils tell of long ago

This morning, T decided he wanted to explore the Timeline of Life again. He also went through our pile of prehistoric life library books most of the morning. He drew some of the creatures he had discovered.

Then I suggested that he choose an organism from each Era to study more closely. The first one he wanted to work on was the Saber toothed cat (Smilodon).

He researched his selection in our books and the Timeline and made an outline of information he had found.

And he drew his own picture of the Smilodon (including its insides, ribs, heart, stomach, etc)


  1. Wow!!! I wish I'd seen this earlier!! I added a link to this post on our museum visit here...
    This is fantastic! My guys would love this museum!!!

    1. Thank you! We really love this museum. We actually visit almost monthly and we always find new things to discover.

  2. I'm loving reading about your Second Great Lesson work! Go you!

    1. Thank you. I am really enjoying this lesson. I have a background in science/biology so this is right up my alley.