Escape from Dinosaur Park! – the journey ends

Finally, after a six week learning unit heading back in time – yes, 100 million years ago – the students are ready to escape from Dinosaur Park!  We have been studying dinosaurs, learning about the different theories of their extinction, and how this information impacts us today, even while more and more fossils are discovered around the world.  This is the week when all their learning comes together for an opportunity to escape!  I planned an escape room where students had to solve problems about animal survival and hereditary topics in order to figure out the pathway to freedom.  It was a fun and memorable week for these kiddos.

 

To set the stage for learning, I included some video clips from Jurassic Park (the movie) throughout the week and dinosaur sounds each day to add some excitement.  To make this an official adventure, I made headlamps for all the kids to wear during our project learning time.  I made these with a headband and push on/off light.  While the students were learning and solving problems, an alarm would go off and a question appeared on the Promethean board that had to be answered in one minute.  IF the students correctly solved the problem, the dinosaurs were placed back in their cages.  IF the students did not solve the problem correctly, the dinosaurs began to exit their cages and roam Dinosaur Park.  The kids absolutely LOVED these “problems” and were relieved when their team solved the problem.  The problems focused on math skills the students were working on in class.

 

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I prepared seven different stations for students to explore: dinosaur dung, paleontology reconstruction, adaptation, DNA, fossils discovered in our world, outrunning a dinosaur, and animal selection (supplies shared at end of post).  I utilized the Mystery Science “Animals Through Time” activities as a learning resource.  This resource included videos, activities, and a learning quiz.  These lessons were self-guided; however, working with a partner made these stations more fun.   Each station included some hands on learning which the students loved.  I enjoyed listening to the comments students made when learning – yes still learning – about animal survival and hereditary topics.  Students also dug for fossils in “dino dung” which I was able to obtain from the Talkeetna Mountains in my backyard (well dinosaurs did roam there, but the dung was a mixture of chocolate cake mix, marshmallows, spaghetti, and twigs).  The students wore plastic hand gloves as they were not digging in dino dung without protection.  They enjoyed this learning station, even though it was gross.  Once the fossils were discovered, the students washed the fossils and worked to put them together.

 

        

Each day brought students a new station rotation to learn and solve problems. At the end of each day we debriefed as a class about our learning focusing on the driving and essential questions.  After four days of learning in the Dinosaur Park Escape Room, the last day involved a party.  In all the excitement, I FORGOT to get pictures to share!!  I am sooo bummed.  However, if you can visualize this you can see it, too.  I prepared dino-egg salad sandwiches, dino-bites (donut holes), dino-dung cupcakes with dinosaur toppers, and juice packs.  We had dinosaur plates and napkins to make the party more festive.  When students got their snack, they also chose a dino-egg (Easter plastic egg) from the basket.  Each egg had a clue to the question, “Is there still a dinosaur that lurks our world today?”.  Students took turns sharing the clues with the whole class, piecing together the information, and solving the question.  Yes, they actually solved the problem with only 27 clues!!  AMAZING!!   AND I am happy to report that all 29 students and 1 teacher safely escaped Dinosaur Park.

 

 

Headlamps were made by hot gluing a push light to a headband.

Headbands for all students.

Dinosaur paleontology kit

 

Now that we escaped, the Ice Age fell upon us and students learned about the impact this period had on our world.  It was certainly an exciting six weeks of learning about prehistoric times in our world!

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Annette Durbin

Annette has been an educator for 27 years working in the elementary classroom, district leadership, university professor, as well as a mentor for teachers nationwide. A National Board Certificated Teacher, Annette focuses her research on accelerating learning and advancing achievement, personalizing instruction, technology, and leadership in the education field.

This Post Has 28 Comments

  1. Kyndall Bennett

    I’m so glad that these children get to experiment with hands-on projects! 😑 I think some schools depend too heavily on solely notes and lectures.

    1. Annette Durbin

      Thanks, Kyndall!! I agree, worksheets are not what learning is about. BORING!

      Thanks for stopping by!
      ~Annette

  2. Lina

    Love your creative teaching style! I am sure the kids enjoyed it and learned so much from it.

    1. Annette Durbin

      I believe they do love the class!! My class is certainly different compared to a traditional classroom.

      Have a great day!
      ~ Annette

  3. Lisa Manderino

    So fun! What a great idea!

    1. Annette Durbin

      Yes, lots of fun AND learning!

      Thanks for stopping by, Lisa!!!
      ~Annette

    2. Katie

      So fun!! I have always loved hands-on activities. Such a different way to learn.

  4. Stacey

    This looks so fun for the kids. My daughter loves dinosaurs. When we went to Kansas City last summer, she said Dinosaurs Revealed was her favorite part of the weekend. It’s great when learning can be fun.

    1. Annette Durbin

      Totally agree, Stacey!! When learning is fun there is an emotional connection; hence, learning happens.

      Take care!
      ~Annette

  5. Katie Wolfe

    Great idea! Thanks for sharing such a fun adventure with your students.

    1. Annette Durbin

      You bet!!! I love sharing ideas for teachers and homeschool families!!!

      Thanks for stopping by!!
      ~Annette

  6. Angelina

    How exciting and creative! Makes me want to go back to school again haha!

    1. Annette Durbin

      LOL!! Yes, Angelina, my goal is to keep the kiddos engaged and having fun, SO they WANT to be in class everyday!!

      Take care,
      ~Annette

  7. Malia

    You are seriously the coolest teacher ever. I would have loved this activity as a kid! My kids would love anything that involved dinosaurs and headlamps! Kudos to you!

    1. Annette Durbin

      Thanks, Malia!! We have fun in class!! Sometimes I feel “out of the box” teaching in my school, since what I do is sooo different.

      Thanks for stopping by!!
      ~Annette

  8. Joanne

    Sounds like a great “escape”!

    1. Annette Durbin

      LOL!! Yes, a “great escape”, indeed!!

      Have a great day!
      ~Annett

  9. Jacklynn

    What fun this must have been and a super learning activity. Can’t wait to hear about The Ice Age!

    1. Annette Durbin

      Thanks, Jacklynn! I’m a tad behind in my classroom posts, so check back again for more learning fun!

      Take care,
      ~Annette

  10. Yolanda

    HA! I love this idea, Maybe I can try some to this with my children.

    1. Annette Durbin

      Yolanda, yes, please do!!! It is sooo much fun!!! I wanted to start the unit dressed in a dinosaur costume, but I didn’t get a chance to pull that together. Next time!

      Take care,
      ~Annette

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