D is for Dinosaur – Week 2

We had so much fun learning about dinosaurs; I had too much to share in one post so here is the rest of our fun.

IMG_4700One of my favorite aspects of homeschooling at this age is the ability to school away from home. Each week I try to find a related activity and make a field trip out of it. IMG_1797When I know ahead of time that Joseph has to make a trip to Saint Louis, we usually tag along (saves on the expense for gas) and I find something near the hospital where he is doing visitations. This time we explored the Saint Louis Science Center, with lots of time in their dinosaur dig site and their special exhibit of Dinosaurs in Motion. IMG_4610IMG_4619In preperation for our field trip we learned about all the people that work together to dig up dinosaurs, fossils, and rocks. Eden is very much into pretend play right now.  So after reading “Digging up Dinosaurs”, Eden assigned a specialty to each family member. She decided she wanted to try being a paleontologist, I was the photographer, Joseph was the geologist, and Eli got to be the worker (“because he likes to play in the dirt” was her reasoning). For even more fun we turned an old zoo keeper costume into a paleontologist costume. IMG_4679          IMG_4632 Once she was dressed, she decided that everyone else needed to have something special for the day (she is so much my daughter – matching outfits for the day – yes!). Using the book we read for reference on types of clothing that would be good for the hot sun, she found a green shirt and kaki pants for Eli, picked a light color shirt out for daddy and mommy, and we had to make a special trip over to church to borrow the leftover safari hats from a VBS a few years back. IMG_4627 Her get up wasn’t complete until she packed a field bag with all the supplies she thought she might need as a paleontologist. She was so proud walking into the dig sit; I had visions of her all grown up and her going off to work.

IMG_4622   IMG_4614   IMG_4694 Eden had so much fun pretending, exploring, and learning about dinosaurs. She spent close to three hours in the dinosaur area of the museum. They had areas where they could practice their fine motor skills and brush away dirt from the fossils and areas where they could dig out, hold and then identify the bone type from books of examples.

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I am very thankful for the kind museum staff that spent lots of time answering Eden’s questions and engaging her. On our drive up to Saint Louis, Eden and I worked on coming up with questions that she could ask about dinosaurs and paleontologists. She normally is a little shy, but once she started asking questions, it was like the flood gates were opened. She wanted to know why dinosaurs had such long tails, if any made “friends” with other kinds of dinosaurs, and if any dinosaurs ate bugs.

IMG_4684 While Eden was busy learning and playing, I let Eli get down and explore too. Now that he is more mobile, he doesn’t like being kept in the stroller. He wasn’t so sure about the “dirt” that he was to dig in. He kept putting his foot in as if testing the waters but would then pull it back out and look at me like, “What is this stuff mom?”. Thankfully he didn’t try to eat this “dirt”.

But after awhile of watching his sister play, he decided it must be okay and he too didn’t want to leave.

IMG_4689   IMG_4673This summer the museum has on special display “Dinosaurs in Motion”. Because it was dinosaur week, we thought we would include this in our field day. It was a fun experience and I am glad we went ahead and paid to go through, but I do think it is way over priced. Thankfully it is free to get in the Science Museum, and we packed a picnic lunch so spending a little more to do this was okay.

IMG_4671The sculptures were created by John Payne, an artist and scientist. As a stay at home dad he spent many days with his kids at museums and parks, like our family. At home he would make up bedtime stories about the dinosaurs coming to life after the museum closed. Years later he breathed life into these giant creatures.

Using recycled metals, Payne built 13 life-size steel replicas of dinosaur skeletons rigged like industrial-strength marionettes. A system of levers, cables and pulleys allowed us to make the models snap their ferocious-looking jaws, swing their tails and stomp clawed feet. Some even used game controllers with sound and lighting effects.

Check out this short video of our time in the exhibit (make sure your sound is on for the full effect!)


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