Constructing a dinosaur timeline at KS1

Why is a timeline like a crocodile?

Creating a dinosaur timeline

Creating a dinosaur timeline

Every primary school class has a timeline. Some teachers make a great deal of use of them. Some timelines just seem to be there for no apparent reason like the ubiquitous stuffed crocodile in these old paintings of alchemist’s shops – just one of those things that are part of the fixtures and fittings.

A timeline problem

The trouble for me is that all these timelines seem so short. I suppose that it’s inevitable when you’ve only limited space in the classroom. The problem’s even more acute when you’re dealing with geological time as I was during last week’s visit to a primary school in Leeds (West Yorkshire, UK).

 An outdoor solution

My new presentation focuses on How do we know about dinosaurs? and I needed to get the children to think about how far back in time the Cretaceous Period might be. My solution was to take the children outside into the school yard. After all, the classroom is only a workplace: it’s not a prison. This gave us the room we needed to work.

 Dinosaur timeline maths

First I got ten children to stand in a line with their arms outstretched and fingertips touching. Each child represented ten years. ‘What’s ten ten’s?’ I asked. There was some confusion here as I got a reply of ‘twenty’ a couple of times but eventually we sorted out that I meant multiply ten by ten not add ten and ten. I repeated this process with each child being a hundred, then a thousand, then a million years. It’s a great way to revise maths, if nothing else.

The Cretaceous at last

Finally, I lined all thirty children up as thirty million years and asked the classroom assistant to walk away from them holding one end of a surveyor’s tape measure. She was told to stop when she reached thirty four metres. Thirty million plus thirty four million equals sixty four million years ago; the end of the Cretaceous Period and the time when the world was rule by Tyrannosaurus Rex. ‘There’, I said ’, Isn’t that a long way away?’

For more details of the new dinosaur presentation or to book a session contact me here.




Prehistoric Ilkley Moor: a guided walk on the 28th of March 2015

Planets Rock, Ilkley Moor

Planets Rock, Ilkley Moor

To mark the start of British Summer time, I shall be leading a guided walk on Ilkley Moor on Saturday 28th of March. The walk will start form the public car park at the base of the Cow and Calf Rocks at 2.00 PM. We will look at several notable examples of Rock Art as well as a couple of settlement sites on the edge of the moor.

The cost of the walk is £3. For more detailed information click here.

The Mystery of the Clay Tobacco Pipe

Clay tobacco pipe bearing the initials LD

Clay tobacco pipe bearing the initials LD

Last year when I was working at Hanging Heaton some children brought in a clay tobacco pipe to show me. The bowl was decorated with swags and bore the initials

LD. When we worked on a small excavation in the school grounds several more pieces of similar clay tobacco pipe were recovered. They too had the same pattern of swags and the initials LD.

I have been unable to trace who LD might have been. Can anybody help me with this?



The Aire Valley in the Middle Ages

The River Aire near Bingley

The River Aire near Bingley

On Wednesday 11th of March I shall be talking to the Keighley and District Local History Society about the Aire Valley in the Middle Ages. The talk focuses on the preindustrial landscape of the area between Keighley and Shipley and is fully illustrated by PowerPoint.

The talk is being held at 7.30 in Keighley Library. Non-members are welcome. The entrance fee is £2.00.