One of the things that you will hear me speak to a lot is that it’s OK to be simple. We don’t have to be big and over the top all the time. Our students appreciate the little things. In fact, I wrote a blog post about 5 simple tips to engage students. I’ve used inflatable pool floats to kick off a weather unit. In the spring, I set up a tent for a camping unit. Music and lighting can engage students and set the stage. So Mr. Greg, if you’re such a fan of simple ideas for engagement, why did you do a dinosaur classroom transformation?
Why A Classroom Transformation?
The answer is pretty simple. I am a huge believer in pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and trying new things. We cannot grow as educators if we don’t try things. I’ve never done a classroom transformation. And honestly, I had no plans to ever do one. I didn’t think my students needed it. And honestly, I don’t think students NEED a transformation to be engaged. BUT what’s wrong with trying something new and creating new experiences?
But wait, there is another reason. You see, what had happened was that we were in the process of building our new house. We needed to pick out a washer and dryer so we hit up Home Depot. And as we walked in, there he was. A 9 FOOT TALL T-Rex skeleton. True story. It was one of the Halloween decorations Home Depot had. As soon as I saw this giant guy, I knew I was going to use him for our dinosaur research project. So, it was the that I decided to do a classroom transformation or classroom flip. (Yes, that giant t-rex was a bit pricey. But he can be a Halloween decoration and he can be used in the classroom. And it was a splurge and worth every penny after seeing my students reactions today!)
Will I do it again?
Probably not. I think only doing ONE epic classroom flip a year creates an amazingly magical and special experience. Will I continue to do fun little simple things to engage my students? Absolutely. Did I enjoy this flip? YES! Was it an amazing day with my students in Jurassic Park? YES! Did I love their excitement and faces and joy? YES! Were we engaged and learning? YES!
So….without further delay, here is our dinosaur classroom transformation!
I used plastic to cover the ceilings and give the classroom that Jurassic Park…forest feel!
Then we put the giant T-Rex together (Thanks to my TBFF Jenny from Jen Hart Design for assisting in this classroom transformation!) We placed the T-Rex and two smaller dinosaurs that we purchased from Home Depot in the corner so hopefully (fingers crossed) we won’t have any DINOSAUR DOWN moments!
Once we had the stage set with the green ceiling and the dinosaurs, we wanted to add in some other fun areas to complete the transformation. First, we used camouflage netting from Amazon to create a fun reading nook!
Then we used camouflage netting and some cutouts from Oriental Trading to set the scene!
We used inflatable camouflage coolers from Oriental Trading to make a fun book storage area!
Now that transformation or flip is done, what next? We didn’t just spend 4 hours setting this up without a purpose. The whole point of the transformation was to set the stage to engage and kick off our dinosaur research project.
If you’re going to study dinosaurs for 2 weeks, then you must become a paleontologist. So today we journeyed to Jurassic Park and learned about paleontologists. We learned what they do and the tools they use to discover and study fossils.
After we learned about paleontologists, we gathered our excavating tools (Thanks to ETA/Hand2Mind for the googles and tweezers!) and went digging for fossils!
We used chocolate chip cookies to dig for fossils. The paleontologists dug out the chocolate chips using their tools! And yes, we had to wear our safety googles and hats!
Then the paleontologists had to record their work in their field notebook!
Here is the Facebook LIVE video we made during our fossil dig!
And finally, if you’re going to Jurassic Park, you must dress the part!
Here is a video tour of our transformation and the kids reactions as the entered the room today!
For more on our dinosaur research project, check out this post: