Miss 5 and the Mesozoic

Last week Miss 5 announced that she was done with dinosaurs, for now, and she wanted to start working on The Ocean. More specifically the coral reefs. She has spent the last few days reading about, and watching documentaries on The Great Barrier Reef, coral reefs in general and coral bleaching. Her level of empathy is incredible, and a documentary on coral bleaching reduced her to tears. She is now determined to come up with some way to tell people about climate change, bleaching and the plight of our coral reefs. I have suggested she keep reading and try to think of some ways to get the word out. She has mentioned our facebook page as well as this blog, and I think I can feel another guest post coming. Watch this space 😊

In the meantime, since we’ve had a shift in her study unit, I figured I better write up on the dinosaurs and what she accomplished, before I get too far behind. As I’ve mentioned before, this is not the first time Miss 5 has had a thing for dinosaurs. At age 3 she developed a small obsession for them. It came out of the blue, and to this day I don’t know where the interest was born, it’s not as if Husband and I have prehistorical artefacts laying around the house! But she developed a thing for them and for a good 12 months it was all about the dinosaurs. During this time we amassed a collection of figurines, books, games, puzzles, toys, DVDs and iPad apps. So when she decided a couple of months ago that she wanted to pick up where she left off, I was elated. As a three year old, she learned a lot of dinosaur names, she learned the difference between a herbivore, carnivore and omnivore. She had learned about the three time periods of the Mesozoic (the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous). So this time around we concentrated on different classifications of dinosaur, on observing features of the dinosaur and using these observations to determine what group it belongs to, as well as touching on evolution and how animals (and people) evolve to suit their environment.

Miss 5 has learned that a “quadruped” is an animal that walks on 4 legs, and a “biped” is an animal that walks on 2 legs. She has spent time looking at teeth to determine if an animal is carnivorous or herbivorous. She has studied weaponry and defences of dinosaurs to determine if they are predators or prey, and she has practiced reading and writing the names of the dinosaurs as well.

I love it when the universe shares your rhythm, and provides you with everything you need. Only days after Miss 5 announced she wanted to revisit her prehistoric interests, I found an advertisement for the Perth Zoo. They had an exhibition of large animatronic dinosaurs, on the premises. So we went to the zoo for the day. Miss 5 picked up a map at the entrance and navigated the way to each dinosaur on display. The map had a checklist, which she used by matching the names of the dinosaurs on the sign at each stop, to a name on the list. Not “reading” per Se, but certainly letter recognition. She ticked off each dinosaur as we went, and told me what she knew or could hypothesise about each animal (side note; the word “hypothesis” has been in her vocabulary for a couple of years now, and it is not uncommon to hear her say “Mummy, I have a hypothesis”. So for me to use this word in my reports is perfectly natural, as she uses it more than I do 😀). There was a small group of school students walking with their teacher, and coincidentally walking the same route as us. Miss 5 was kind enough to help this (poor) teacher out, by letting her know that swimming and flying reptiles were not actually dinosaurs, and the pteranodon was actually classed as a pterosaur 😂. I was really impressed that she matched every name of every dinosaur on her list, and then read the map and navigated us around the zoo, using the map, without missing one.

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After our day at the zoo, I found an advertisement for the Explore-A-Saurus exhibition at Scitech. So off to Scitech we went, this time with a group of friends from our homeschooling community. The kids were able to see more animatronic dinosaurs, as well as casts of fossils, and plenty of interactive dinosaur-related activities.

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To support her learning, we learned the Dinosaur A to Z song from one of her favourite shows, Dinosaur Train. Not only did we all learn the words, but she did some copy work, copying down the names of the dinosaurs in her workbook, as well as making note of what they ate, how many legs the walked on, what classification of dinosaur it was and something interesting about it. Then we made some salt dough dinosaur fossils. She learned the difference between body and trace fossils, and made both (I did take a photo of these, but I can’t seem to find it. I’ll keep looking and update this post when I come across it). After the fossils were made, Miss 5 and Miss 3 had a little archaeological dig in the backyard. We also watched the documentary by David Attenborough, about the biggest dinosaur ever discovered.

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The highlight for me, was the day that Miss 5 invented her own dinosaur. She drew a picture of it, named it (and wrote the name down without any prompting), and told me all about this dinosaur, using all of the words, and knowledge that she had accumulated. “Bachosaurus” was a carnivorous theropod that lived on the east coast of Australia during the Cretaceous period. Bachosaurus was an ambush predator that hunted in packs, in order to pull down larger dinosaurs. His stripes were for camouflage as well as a way of identifying other Bachosaurs (much like Zebra stripes). Bachosaurus was primarily a nocturnal dinosaur, like a Troodon, but if food was scarce, it would hunt during the day also. 😀

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I must admit, I think, towards the end, that I was a little more excited about the dinosaur unit than Miss 5. I think I’ve developed a new interest too 😂 I do think, or at least I do hope, that dinosaurs will make another appearance in our “schooling”. It is something that Miss 5 has always been interested in and I would actually like to see her follow it up in coming years.
One thing that I’ve noticed over the last couple of months is that Miss 5 has started to both read and write. The reading has gone from being a chore that she wasn’t keen on and I didn’t want to push, to something that she is asking to do. The writing has come along in leaps and bounds and she is writing page long stories. It’s amazing watching the natural progression of her learning.

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And the survey says….

Last Wednesday I had a moment of vagueness, where I thought I had forgotten to fill out the national census the night before. As it turned out the census was due to be completed on Tuesday, but it was this Tuesday, not last Tuesday 😐 Oblivious to my mix up, I settled myself on the couch with the iPad and logged into the census website. Miss 5 is quite interested in technology and spends a fair amount of time on science, museum or other educational websites, or doing her reading eggs and maths seeds programs. So when she saw the iPad come out, she wandered over to have a look at what I was doing. Seizing the opportunity for a chat I invited her to sit with me and help me fill out the survey.
She, obviously asked what I was doing and what it was for. I explained that the government collected the information and used it to help them make plans for the future of the country. We talked about statistics (numbers that give information), and why someone would use statistics. We discussed how Daddy used statistics at work, to help him keep his workers safe, as well as to help him estimate the cost of a job, or to help him decide how many workers he might need to do a job. I asked Miss 5 who else might use statistics, she came up with;
– Restaurants – they would need to ask people what types of foods they like, so the restaurant would know what type of food to cook.
– People who build parks – they would need to find out where most of the little kids lived, so they would know where to put the playgrounds.
Miss 5 asked me if the people in the government were the only people who made surveys, to which I told her no. I have answered so many surveys for so many different things. This intrigued her, even more so when I confirmed that you could ask just about anything in a survey. Obviously the next question from Miss 5 was “Do you think I can make a survey, Mummy?”. As I’ve mentioned before, Miss 5 is aware that I have to report to our Department Moderator “School Margaret”, and she is aware that to assist in this, I use this blog and our facebook page. Miss 5 asked if she could make a survey and put it on our Facebook page to see if we could ask people to fill out her survey. I told her to come up with 10 questions while I figured out how we would do it. My first thought was to put a poll on Facebook, but a bit of googling led me to a site called Survey Monkey. It seemed easy enough, and it was free to sign up. With our free membership I had access to a basic survey template, as well as analysis of up to 100 responses. Together, we decided that we would leave the survey open for 3 days. Miss 5 read her questions to me, and I typed them out in the website. I couldn’t help but have a little giggle at her questions 😄 During the course of typing them up, I asked Miss 5 if she would like to include an “other” option. I explained to her that it was something that gave people a way to say they like “something else” other than the options that Miss 5 had come up with. She loved the idea of an “other” option – which she called the or else button 😂 – so much so, that it was added to almost every question!
When the survey was completed, we posted it on our homeschooling facebook page, as well as my personal page, asking our friends and family to fill it out if they had a minute spare. When the link was posted, I told Miss 5 she had to get ready for her swimming lessons. Just before walking out the door, she begged me to check, to see if anyone had filled out her “monkey survey”. She had 8 responses. The first thing she asked when we returned from swimming, was to check her survey. She had 35 responses. She was thrilled, and we spent half an hour going through the charts to see what answers she was getting. By the time she went to bed that night, 6 hours after posting the survey, she had 85 responses. I got as excited as she did. The thought that she could possibly get 100 responses was pretty thrilling. I emailed a few friends who aren’t on Facebook and asked them to fill it in, hoping to push her over the 100 mark.
6.30 the next morning, and Miss 5 was tapping me on the shoulder, asking me to wake up, because she wanted to check her monkey survey. She woke up to 235 responses. There were squeals. We poured over the answers over breakfast, seeing what responses were receiving the most votes, what percentages they were getting, whether the percentage had changed overnight, and guessing what would ultimately be the “winner” 😊 By Thursday night she had 290 responses, and by the time I closed the survey on Saturday morning, she had received a total of 420 responses to her survey. I had to purchase a months subscription to Survey Monkey to access the results of her survey, as the free site only gave me the first 100! 😮 Her proud and excited statement – “Mum!! The internet is BRILLIANT!! 😂😂
We have spent the last few days, looking at the responses, and discussing whether they met our expectations. We have discussed the distribution of numbers, as well as percentages, and factors that may have changed the answers she received. We have plans to go further into detail with the results and do some graphing work. It has been a fabulous exercise, not only for her mathematics component, but social studies (learning and understanding how people, other than her own immediate circle, might live), as well as English (writing the questions and reading the responses), and digital media (a lesson in using technology to assist her learning). And it made her so very happy 😊
Because we had such a great response, and because I know a lot of the people who helped us out, read this blog, and more than a few have contacted me asking what the results were, I thought I’d add a short list of what the questions were, as well as the results:

1) What is your favourite Play School window? It was neck and neck the whole way, but the diamond window just scraped in to the lead position with 143 votes. The Arch window was a very close second with 141.

2) Have you ever been scuba diving? This has been on Miss 5s mind a bit lately, as she wants to learn to snorkel and eventually to scuba dive (I have a feeling that our next unit of study will be the ocean!). 82% of people surveyed have not been scuba diving. But as Miss 5, very cleverly, pointed out, if the majority of our respondents were children, then this might account for the overwhelming “no” response.

3) Which one of these do you live on? The options given were Place, Street, Avenue, Way, and Other. This was a tricky question for her, as her knowledge of possibilities is limited to her own experience, which is why I suggested the “other” option. The most popular for the options she offered was 144 votes for Street. However, as she had missed things like “Road” and “Drive”, the “Other” option received 201 votes, with Road and Drive the top two answers 😂 One response she did receive which excited her imagination to no end was no fixed address because “I have been travelling the world on my motorcycle, for three years” Miss 5 thought that was just about the most awesome thing possible!

4) What do you like to put on your toast? As the majority of people we reached are Australian, it’s really no surprise that 40% of her responses were voting for Vegemite. She did enjoy reading the results for the “other” option though. She tallied the majority of these to be “avocado”, but she also came across some new items, “Chelsey bite” and “cheese whiz” were two that she had never heard of. I also had to explain to her that we had obviously reached someone in America, as one of the responses was “peanut butter and jelly” Miss 5 was picturing a piece of peanut butter toast loaded with aeroplane jelly 😊 Cheese and jam was one response that elicited a big “Ewwwwww”!

5) Who is your favourite Wiggle? This is the question that I’ve been asked about the most. And mostly from grown ups 😂 The yellow wiggle was in front for the majority of the time the survey was open. The purple wiggle made a surge for the finish line in the last few hours. But in the end, the Purple and the Yellow wiggle ended up tied, with 125 votes each.

6) What is your favourite type of restaurant? The options given were Miss 5s favourite! Japanese, Thai, Indian, Italian, Chinese, and – of course – Other. Italian came out on top here, and the most popular response in the “other” field was “Australian”. Miss 5 was a little confused by this response, and wanted to know what they served in an Australian restaurant. After some thought we decided it was probably things like steak or seafood. We did receive one response that said French, and one that said Ethiopian, both of which are now on her bucket list of foods she wants to try 😊

7) What is your favourite season? Being that we’re in the throes of winter and everyone is cold and sick at the moment, I thought – for sure – that Summer would prove to be most popular. When Miss 5 and I made our guesses, we both agreed that most people would say Summer was the best season. We were proved wrong. Spring was the most popular season from start to finish, with a total of 181 (43%) of the votes in the end.

8) Where would you prefer to visit? Being that Miss 5 came up with these questions, the options were her favourite places to visit. Playground, Theatre, Your friends house, Beach or Other. “Your friends house” was the popular choice initially, but the beach ended up taking out 40% of the votes. When we were going through the responses for the “other” field, we found that the bush was the most popular response. One response was “A Viking Metal concert” I’m not sure if that was someone trying to be funny, or if it is actually a thing. However I listen to heavy metal music, and so does Miss 5s Aunty and Uncle, so she didn’t bat an eye at the response, she just casually said “that must be like the stuff you like Mummy” 😉

9) Who is your favourite Disney Princess? Again this is one that a lot of grown ups have asked for the results, and one where a lot of people made mention, if their own personal favourite wasn’t on the list! But, Miss 5 knows the ones she knows, and being that we don’t watch a lot of television, and I particularly have a little issue with Disney princesses (mainly because in most of the movies Disney kills off one or both of the parents, has a “handsome prince” come in and save the day and the “helpless princess”, and then marries off the princess in her teens – 16 in the case of Ariel!!) her experience with them is limited. She was magnanimous enough to include Merrida, for my benefit (one of the few that has two living parents, saves the day all by herself and refuses to marry 😊), along with Merrida, there was Ariel, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Elsa/Anna and Rapunzel. Let’s face it, we all thought Elsa was going to trounce the competition! But the winner was Ariel (28.5%), followed by Cinderella (25%). Merrida came in 3rd 😉

10) What do you think is the most important thing for little kids? Her options were Be Free, Play, Have Good Manners, Learn to Cook, Learn to Read and Write and Explore. Gleefully our biggest response was for “Play” (40%), with “Explore” not too far behind (34%)

A giant THANKYOU to everyone who helped us out by filling in Miss 5s survey. Not only did you offer plenty of data to help with her lessons for the next couple of weeks, but you also put such a giant smile on her face. She had so much fun, and she truly thinks that the Internet is amazing and the people who use it are just wonderful 😊

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