Saturday, March 5, 2016

#TBT to #Dinovember

"And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it." -Roald Dahl

Abe and I were Claire and Owen from
Jurassic World for Halloween!
2015 marks my 3rd year of Dino-monthing in my classroom, but the first year of true Dinovember, and not Dinocember, or Dinouary. As I am teaching 4th grade this year, and we don't have a dinosaur unit, my dinosaurs just appeared the first Monday of November, and moved about my classroom at will every day, until the end of November. While unconnected to our academic topics, my students simply rolled with it, as they already know I love dinosaurs. I have dinosaur magnets, dinosaur borders on my bulletin boards, a couple dinosaurs on my bookshelf, and a giant dinosaur welcome sign. I also made a point to wear something with dinosaurs on it every day of the week. This year I debuted a dino skirt from my sister, and some sweet dino dresses from the internet, some earrings, necklaces, and a scarf. And if my friends didn't know of my dino obsession like my kids do, I started with some sweet Dinoctober pumpkins to get in the mood, and had a related costume for Halloween. 
My Dinoctober pumkin!

So, without further ado: Dinovember 2015!
Jurassic times call for Jurassic measures

Dinovember Day 1: It started on a rainy day, but my dinos were warm and dry inside, setting a bad example of playing with the rulers. As I often tell my kids, as they're drumming with pencils or sword fighting with markers: "Those are tools, not toys."
Whiteboards always make math problems more fun!

Dinovember Day 2: At any age, kindergarten to 4th grade and far beyond, writing on whiteboards will likely never cease to be fun!

Way more fun to build towers than count with these.

Dinovember Day 3: We got these giant tubs of math manipulatives with our new curriculum, and one is just full of base 10 blocks. These are kind of foamy and green, a departure from the classic plastic yellow, but still do the job!

I'm an adult with a children's book problem.

Dinovember Day 4: My favorite day, as I get to display my dinosaur book collection, which is ever growing. I got some new ones from the book fair, and others from the thrift shop. 

Dinosaurs everywhere-
note the cards I use to assign class jobs. 

Dinovember Day 5: At my school, they have weekly "awards". There's a spirit award for the most kids in a class to be wearing school colors the previous Friday. It's a stuffed falcon (which is our mascot). There's a golden jumprope, for the class who had the best PE day. There's a golden apple for....honestly, I'm not 100% sure. And, there's the golden shoes, for best behavior in the hallways. The 4th graders are a notoriously loud bunch, and not great at hallway walking, but we have our moments, and the previous week was noted. So the dinosaurs had to enjoy our hard earned week with the shoes...because since then, they have not been to our room.

Nothing like a brand new box of crayons, and some coloring pages.

Dinovember Day 6: Apparently coloring helps with mindfulness, and is all the craze for adults right now. I have never stopped enjoying coloring, and these dinosaurs are over 65 million years ahead of the trend.

At least they're having fun.

Dinovember Day 7: Unclear what game my dinos are trying to play here, what with two incomplete decks of cards, no semblance of organized piles, or turn taking. 52 card pick up, perhaps?

Headphones were obviously not designed for miniature dinosaurs.

Dinovember Day 8: My school's big thing is being the first school in our city to be one-to-one with devices. As a result, I have a class set of chromebooks! The kids love them, there's tons of cool sites that are educational, and I am definitely a Google Classroom convert. It saves paper, and is super easy to assign assignments. 

This game gives you good practice reading obscure dinosaur names.

Dinovember Day 9: I have gone to the thrift shop more times this year than any other. Mostly for kids books, but I created a classroom board game collection and ended up finding this gem: Dinosaur Bingo! Perfect for Dinovember!

Target's dollar store Jenga is called Jumbling Tower.

Dinovember Day 10:
Again, we see here that dinosaurs are not great at taking turns, but pretty graceful when it comes to not knocking over unstable towers.

Another thrift shop find!

Dinovember Day 11: There is no such thing as a water dinosaur. Or a flying dinosaur, for that matter. Mosasaurus, who got some fame as a larger-than-life attraction at Jurassic World, and beloved Pterodactyl are not, technically speaking, dinosaurs. That being said, my dinos, for not being water reptiles, were surprisingly adept at naval battle strategy. 

The theme for my parent teacher conferences this week
was to suggest practicing multiplication facts at home.

Dinovember Day 12: I didn't have enough dominos for my dinos to all use them...and the abacus is also not big enough for 6 to, random math items day!

This game was actually not from the thrift shop,
but donated to me from a neighbor.

Dinovember Day 13: The dinosaurs were totally on board for a game of sweet revenge, and actually seem to be following the rules, and taking turns for once!

It's hard to tell, but they are painting pictures of dinos!

Dinovember Day 14: Water coloring is tons of fun, and we've only managed to pull out the water colors twice this year. I have a couple other projects I want to do with my students, but it's so hard to find the time! The dinosaurs had all the time in the world though, because they don't have silly pacing guides, and a million other requirements to get through each day, with not enough time in the schedule for it all.

These blocks haven't gotten much playing time this year
sitting in my garage.

Dinovember Day 15: The final day of Dinovember! Broke out some kindergarten toys, because while my 4th graders don't play with alphabet blocks, my dinosaurs certainly will!

Yay dinosaurs!

By the end, it became clear that Dinocember, much less Dinouary, would not be a thing--I (ahem, my dinosaurs) were running out of things to do--there were way more toys back in kindergarten. While my dinos are secured back at home, waiting for next year, I continue to enjoy dinosaurs every month--not just with my classroom decorations. I got to see some sweet fossils and a special exhibit on sauropods over winter break in Cleveland. I feel so lucky to have grown up in a family that valued educational experiences, and fostered my love of learning so that now, as an adult, I still love visiting museums and learning new things about random topics. I wish my students--many of whom say they don't do anything, or just play video games, or watch TV over weekends and breaks--had the same opportunities to foster their curiosity and visit museums often. Unfortunately, it falls on schools to provide a lot of those experiences because they don't get them at home. And it's really a shame that schools make it so hard to go on field trips--busses are soooo expensive, as are entry fees sometimes, and its hard to get enough parent drivers. Many parents can't take off work, or perhaps don't have licenses, or any number of things. Plus, while field trips, hands on learning, and seeing things for real are some of the best, most engaging, most enriching educational (and life) experiences, if it's not directly related to reading/writing/math--things that are on those annoying standardized tests--it is very hard to provide experiences we know the kids need and deserve. I still do what I can--this year was a pretty decent year for field trips--Sutter's Fort, Yolo Basin Wildlife Area, and our local watersheds of Alamo Creek and Lagoon Valley. But, as a constant refrain in teaching, I wish I could do more.

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