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What to do with a dinosaur question

toy dinosaurs

Inquiry-based learning, co-construction and metacognition are the foundation of the Little Scientists’ pedagogical approach. We tend to answer questions with questions. Then we find answers to these questions alongside the children through inquiry-based explorations, carefully scaffolding to help the children along their discovery journey. So what do we do when exploring a topic that lends itself to facts, pop quizzes and snippets of information?

Why is a pteranodon not a dinosaur?

A pteranodon is a reptile, a flying reptile, not a dinosaur. Dinosaurs are land animals. That also means that a plesiosaurs and ichthyosaurs are both considered marine reptiles not dinosaurs. The question can lead to the classification of different groups of dinosaur and other reptiles and a discussion about modern animal classification.

How many toes did a T-Rex have?

Helping children count the toes of a T-Rex having found a good picture or accurate model from a reputable source is not a hard. This could lead to a discussion about the different types of bird toes, their number and arrangement. How many toes do emus have?

What is coprolite?

Coprolite is fossilised poo. You can follow up this fact with a conversation about why paleologists study it and what information can be found from the study of coprolite. What can people find out from present-day animals’ poo? Did you know for instance that wombat poo is cubic and scientists have investigated why this is a helpful trait. We can find out a lot about an animals’ eating habits and its habitat from investigating its poo.

You get the idea: It’s fine to provide a factual answer, but see this answer as a starting point not the end of the conversation. Once you and the children get into this mindset, every fact may lead to discussion, more questions, research and discovery. I saw a very successful technique using these types of questions in action in a preschool. The educators used the children’s questions to gauge their interests, observed where the children might take the question or asked their own questions to spark the children’s interests.

We’re interested in where your dinosaur conversations take you! Please let us know in the comments.

Hayley Bates
Article author: Hayley Bates
National Certifications Coordinator

This passionate mathematician and former science teacher will inspire you with her enthusiasm for inquiry-based learning and her determination to provide high-quality hands-on and fun professional development.

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