Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Prehistory - Part 5 Cambrian Period

We moved on to the Cambrian Period in our Prehistory study.  This was the era where there was an explosion of new creatures appearing in the seas, many with hard exoskeletons to protect their bodies and jointed legs – the early ancestors of arthropods.

We started out by reading about this explosion of life in our Usborne Internet Linked Encyclopedia of World History.  We went online to learn more about a few of these creatures.  We were able to examine them closely and decide whether they were arthropods or not.

We played a game online where we tried to identify the different Cambrian creatures in a crowded picture.  We were really bad at this (yes, mommy too).  We were able to get a few of them that appeared on our Charlie’s Playhouse timeline but on the rest we were completely without a clue.

Speaking of our timeline I spent way too much time trying to figure out a way to hang this temporarily yet securely while only showing the 6 or so feet we had space for.  I finally managed it using an arrangement of binder clips, paper clips and rubber bands.  I think having it hanging during our entire study will be more meaningful for the kids than pulling it out only when we are going to actively use it.
We pulled out the appropriate Creature Cards and matched them up to the animals on the timeline.  Then we worked on making some critters of our own.

First, we made wiwaxia (basically because it seemed the easiest).  Each kid made a slightly flattened ball of clay (with a little help), carefully added scales made from black beans and then added yellow toothpick spines. 
They enjoyed this so much they were eager to try making another critter.  Since this was supposed to be their project not mine, I picked hallucigenia as the next easiest.

A long thick snake of clay, matchsticks for legs and more toothpicks for spines.

Next we learned more about Trilobites by reading a book from the Exploring Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Creatures series called Trilobites.  We then made a papercraft Trilobite from here.  These could be laminated to make them last longer but I didn’t bother.  I also used tape (regular and double sided) to put them together rather than glue.  The kids had a lot of fun playing with these including opening up their bedroom window so they could grab leaves off the tree outside to feed them.
We finished up by doing an online coloring page on Trilobites from Enchanted Learning. (A membership may be necessary to do this activity).

I finally found the secret to reading aloud to these guys – letting them color.  It still doesn’t always work for Vicki but Georgie is getting very meticulous with his coloring and seems to enjoy it while still being able to follow the story.  While I read from Magic Tree House Dinosaurs Before Dark they colored a page on The Paleozoic Sea from here.  (The link for this coloring page is actually wrong in my Prehistory Lesson Plans tab but I will fix it).
We finished up by reading from our DK Prehistoric Life and Usborne Internet Linked First Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Life.

Next we will cover the Ordovician and Silurian Periods.


  1. What fun projects! When we study prehistory, I plan to look back at what you've done. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Coloring pages sometimes work for my kids too. I also like having some play dough around and that's another great one.