Jurassic World – Fossil Room Transformation

I have always been one of those people who find fossils and rocks fascinating. When I was younger I really loved Jurassic Park (even though I fast-forwarded or closed my eyes during some scary parts). So, when I was introduced to classroom transformations, I knew that I would transform my room into Jurassic World one day!

When I first started planning this room transformation I looked a lot at Hope King’s Jurassic World room transformation. She had the awesome idea of turning the desks into jeeps, and digging through dinosaur poop. I followed her lead with my transformation.

The Decorations:

  • I painted large and small easter eggs a black/brown color. And I made nests using greenery and moss from the dollar tree.
  • I purchased a set of vines from Amazon for around $15.00 and used those to drape around my lab tables.
  • Using google, I searched for posters and images from the Jurassic World movies. Because the movie was based on a theme park the movie promotion site has free posters. You can find them here.
  • I also found some cute posters like “don’t feed the dinosaurs” etc. that I printed out to hang around the room.
  • Student desks were turned into jeeps using black tablecloths, aluminum foil, and paper plate headlights. I also created some jeep tags using Etsy as my inspiration.

As students came in, I set the mood by playing the Jurassic World soundtrack. I also had the picture of the gate projected onto my smartboard.

The Tasks:

Students were given a ticket for the jeep ride that told them what jeep to board.

After all the students entered the room we had a brief jeep orientation. I really played up “keep all body parts in the vehicle” and so forth. I also played video clips from both movies showing dinosaurs and really getting them into the vibe for the day.

I then explained that as we journeyed through the park they would have several tasks to complete because they were brought in as fossil experts to help with some issues around the park.

Task One: Fossil Sort

Students were given a set of fossils (we had some fossil sets in our lab already, but you could also use pictures). Students then had to figure out which type of fossil that sample belonged to. The categories were mold, cast, trace, preserved remains, coprolite or petrified.

Task Two: Pterodactyl Poop

Students were told that the Pterodactyls had been eating rocks to aid in their digestion. They needed to figure out what types of rocks they had been eating because it was causing them issues. How do you figure this out? You did in their poop ­čÖé

I also projected the video of dinosaur poop from the original Jurassic Park movie. I edited the video for language.

 

The set-up was brownie mix for the poop and cards with rock type vocabulary on the cards. Students had to dig through to find all the cards and then figure out the rock vocabulary. This was prior knowledge for my students as we start this unit with rocks and minerals.

 

 

 

 

 

Task Three: Trace Fossils

I found some animal footprint tracing plates on Amazon. I explained to the students that local animals had been getting into the dinosaur enclosure. They needed to create rubbings of the footprints to figure out the animal type.

Task Four: Cast and Molds

For this one students used molds “that scientists made of native fossils on the island” and created their own casts.

At the end of the day…

At the end of the day we all had a blast at Jurassic World and my students were asked to do tasks related to their learning. This brought their lessons about fossils to life and not something out of reach. When I was in school we just read about fossils, and I love bringing real experiences to my students! ­čÖé

Have you ever done a room transformation? Tell me about it in the comments below!

 

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Want to bring Jurassic World to your classroom? Grab my complete resource from Teachers Pay Teachers. It includes all the handouts you need, the ppt that I used to guide the lesson, and student badges, tickets and jeep signs. Simply click the image below:

Jurassic Fossil Room Transformation: Fossils and Rocks Stations

 

 

Rigor is not a bad word! (Plus a Freebie)

Recently, I have had the opportunity to look very closely at our state science standards. Through this process I have been working with our local RESA Liason to create learning targets. Wow! This has been totally eye-opening and has helped me to pinpoint my instruction.

SIDE NOTE: In Georgia, we use the Georgia Standards of Excellence, which is closely related to the NGSS. However, it does not always match up. Especially in the middle-grades when our science standards are divided: 6th – Earth Science, 7th-Life Science and 8th- Physical Science.┬á

With RESA support I walked through my first standard. I looked specifically at what students needed to know and then what they needed to be able to do based on the standard. As an example I will walk you through my process with the following standard.

S6E5b Plan and carry out an investigation of the characteristics of minerals and how minerals contribute to rock composition.

Students need to know the characteristics of minerals and that they make up rocks. They also need to be able to plan and carry out an investigation – HOW do we get them there?

After combing through the standard I made check-points. Its like a check list for the standard with everything a student should know and reason. I came up with the following learning targets for the standard:

KNOWLEDGE:

(K1) Identify and explain the terms organic and inorganic. (DCI)

(K2) List and describe the five characteristics of minerals. (DCI)

(K3) Label the six main crystal structures: cubic, hexagonal, orthorhombic, tetragonal, triclinic, and monoclinic. (DCI)

(K4) Identify mineral properties (luster, streak, hardness, color, cleavage and fracture) and explain how it is used to identify minerals. (DCI)

REASONING:

(R1) Explain the relationship between minerals and rock structure. (DCI, CC)

(R2) Compare and contrast rocks and minerals. (DCI)

(R3) Using a data table, analyze given minerals based on their properties. (DCI, SEP)

(R4) Compare and contrast organic and inorganic matter. (DCI)

(R5) Justify the classification of minerals into groups based on their crystal structure. (DCI, CC)

(R6) Construct a claim about whether an object is a mineral given a set of evidence. (DCI, SEP)

Through creating these targets I am now able to set specific goals for each lesson. Before I was using I can statements that were confusing for me and I never referred back to them (shame on me). Now I feel that I will be more effective because I have a check-list guiding my instruction.

I also learned a valuable lesson as a teacher. Rigor has always seemed synonymous with boring and too hard for my students. However, I have learned that if you have high expectations your students will rise to the occasion. Rigor is not a bad word!!

For my first lesson on minerals I created an exit ticket. If you would like a free copy click the image below:

What is a Mineral Exit Ticket

Do you use learning targets in your classroom? If not, what works for you?

A “Rock”-ing Autobiography

Recently there has been a push to add more writing in all content areas. Being from an ELA background I have welcomed this with open arms. I love writing and being able to see the creativity of my students through their writing.

We just finished a unit over the rock cycle, and to close our unit I created an assignment. My students had to pretend they were a piece of sand at the bottom of a river and write about how they became a rock and went through the rock cycle. They had an option to write a story or create a comic strip. I am very impressed with what they came up with. I had some stories about the sediment floating by SpongeBob’s pineapple and others about the rock being crushed in Super-Mario.

Here are a couple of examples that I thought really displayed their understanding of the rock cycle!

Story Choice

Comic Choice

If you think you would like to use this in your classroom, I made a downloadable product on TeachersPayTeachers. Just click the picture below:

Rocking Autobiography - Rock Cycle Writing Task

 

A ROCKy Field Trip!

In my Earth Science class we have been studying rocks and minerals. On Monday, I took my students on a field trip. We went to a local reservoir to look for samples of rocks and minerals. It was really a great trip. My students got to observe Earth science in the great outdoors.

 

I didn’t realize before we took the trip how big of a step being in the great outdoors was until we reached the reservoir.┬á┬áMy students are definitely city kids. They have always been in the city, and are not that in touch with nature. What brought me to this realization was when one of my students started running from a butterfly. Wow! Another blatant moment of reality happened when a student said, “Mrs. Caldwell – don’t move there is a bug behind you!” I quickly turned around to find a small grasshopper.

Kids running away from grasshoppers and butterflies was a bit crazy for me – a girl originally from rural Georgia. However, after we talked about what a dangerous bug or animal was we had a successful trip. Some of the students even had the opportunity to hold their first frog or caterpillar. Even though we were there to collect rock samples it was amazing to see the kids interact with the world around them.

 

Here are some resources to use when teaching Rocks and Minerals: