Thursday, April 3, 2014

A Peek Inside the Magic School Bus Dinosaur Kit

Rose begged me to order her The Magic School Bus: Back in Time with the Dinosaurs Kit after seeing it on the MSB website. We started it last week and are really enjoying it so far. We have not used very many science kits- so I am no expert-but this one seems very well put together. It includes a nice full-color guide booklet designed to be read to or by the child. The activities are designed to go in order for the most part-they build on each other- which annoyed Rose a little bit because she is itching to build the wood dinosaur model!

Each activity in the booklet is prefaced with an article or Ms. Frizzle-style "lecture" about the topic of the day. For example, yesterday we read about cold-blooded animals versus warm-blooded animals. The articles so far have been age appropriate, short, and interesting. Rose is at the young end of the recommended age range (5-10) so some of it does go right over her head, but she always gleans at least a bit from it. Her brothers (9 & 11) usually enjoy listening in as well.

Next you read about the experiment or activity you will do with the supplies from the kit. There is usually space in the booklet to write a hypothesis and/or observation if you wish. So far, the activities have taken 20 minutes or less to complete, including the reading.  For yesterday's experiment we cut out a cardboard "Liz" (the classroom lizard) and placed her and a thermometer in different spots in the house to see how her temperature would change. Rose guessed that she would have a cold temperature in the refrigerator and a warm temperature under the desk lamp.  The kit came with a little thermometer, but it didn't work for us so we used another one we had on hand. We recorded our observations in the booklet and Rose was very happy to find out that her hypothesis was correct! So far the kit has included everything we need, right down to the craft sticks to stir the plaster of Paris.

A few other things we have done with this kit:

  • She made a dinosaur "fossil" using sand, plaster of Paris, and a little dinosaur (all included)
  • She made dinosaur "footprints" out of plaster of Paris and painted them
  • She put stickers on a chart to show how a fossil is formed

And we have lots more to do. I have to pace her a bit because she wants to zoom through the whole thing. We are aiming for about three activities per week to make it last.  We will also be creating a timeline, making clay dinosaur teeth, setting up a diorama, creating 3D paper dinosaurs and a few other things.  James (9) often helps her with the activities and has done some of them with her, but Christopher (11) hasn't had much interest (he's older than the recommended age range though, so that's not surprising).  All in all, this is a great little kit if you have a young dinosaur lover begging for more science.

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