Today, while browsing through cheap eBooks, I came across this absolute beauty from Bill Thomson. I’ve been compiling a list of books that can be used to inspire learning outside the classroom, as well as create a sense of awe, wonder and curiosity in children and teachers alike.
Fossil tells a story, or rather makes you tell a story of a boy walking along a beach who finds a stone and accidentally causes it to break open revealing its secrets.
The artwork is very cinematic in its style and uses perspective beautifully and to my mind this provides a reader with opportunity to work on inference and prediction reading skills. The dramatic way in which the boy shows his emotions makes for interesting discussion points around feelings and motives.
- What if he didn’t drop the stone?
- What if he walked into the woods rather than on the beach?
- What if the dog didn’t chase the dragonfly?
So, to the outdoor learning part…
How does this book allow you to get children working and learning outside?
Make a Fake Fossil:
Here’s a simple way to use some ‘changing states’ and ‘irreversible changes’ science to create your own fossils. This could be done with the children as science, or if the children are younger perhaps for them as a ‘discovery’ activity.
What you need:
- Plastic container/tub
- Plasticine or Playdoh
- Leaves, Shells or Plastic toys
- Plaster of Paris (CLEAPSS - Plaster of Paris in School)
- Cover the bottom of the container with modelling clay approximately 2 -2.5cm deep.
- Press whatever you'd like to fossilise into the clay. The leaves, shells, or plastic creatures.
- Remove the objects leaving the impression or imprint of the object.
- Mix the plaster with water until it is quite runny.
- Pour the plaster over the clay to another approximately 2 -2.5cm depth.
- Leave the plaster set and solidify for 24 hours.
- Remove the plaster from the container and clear off any remaining clay.
Now you’ve your own fossil (ish!)
This can be painted to look like real fossils.
The other option is to leave the clay attached, and hide the fossils in the outdoor area or in the school grounds. Allow the children to discover them or dig them up, break them open and wonder at their discovery.
They could research and design plants, leaves and shells using a variety of media. Other possible activities include a hook into how fossils are formed (LKS2 Rocks and Soils), parts of plants in KS1 or KS2. Written work in terms of Non-Fiction, report and explanation texts, as well as the innumerable fiction and narrative writing hooks.
There are many ways this could be used in a classroom and beyond it. Feel free to add and share your ideas in the comments.
The book is published in loving remembrance of the students and teachers of Sandy Hook Elementary School.
All images and illustrations copyright property of Bill Thomson (2013)