A few months ago a colleague of mine who works in EYFS asked me for ideas to enrich their new dinosaurs topic. I suggested several applications that provided opportunities for these young students to learn more about dinosaurs during independent learning and free flow activities. Then I remembered an augmented reality app that I’d stumbled across a couple of years ago called Dinosaurs Everywhere and we used it to create quite a powerful hook for the start of their topic: she told them that she’d seen a real life dinosaur roaming the school grounds. Of course they didn’t believe her and after teasing them for a while, she showed them this photo I took using the app:
I wasn’t there to see their faces but from what I’ve been told it was priceless. We planned to use the app with the students themselves but the term slipped away from us. I have something special planned for next year using the app though - more on that in a bit.
What’s great about this app is that it doesn’t need a trigger marker at all – the dinosaurs just overlay onto the space in 3D. They also appear to scale so the user gets a real appreciation of the size of these creatures. It works best in large, clear spaces - it helps prevent the dinos walking through buildings.
The app can be downloaded for free but requires a one-off payment to unlock all the dinosaurs and the built-in camera tool. There are ten dinosaurs within the experience including favourites like the Triceratops, Diplodocus, and Stegosaurus. It also offers a simple VR mode where the real world is replaced with a prehistoric backdrop. You can even switch to a split screen mode for use with VR headsets (using either the AR or VR backdrops.)
So what was the plan I mentioned for using the app next year? It’s obvious really: a dinosaur safari!
Students will move around the school hunting for dinosaurs and using the app to capture pictures of them possibly with the students in the photo too. I created a special checklist for them which shows images of the ten dinosaurs featured in the app which they must hunt for. You can download the checklist as a PDF by clicking the image below
I road-tested the Dinosaur Safari this summer with my own kids. We went to a local park area here on our housing estate in Dubai and they tried to find all ten dinosaurs. They had a tremendous time trying to find them all (the T-Rex proved the most elusive) and it was great to watch them collaborate and discuss which one was which.
I put a short video together of the experience. Take a look:
Following the safari there are a range of follow on activities that these young learners could take part in. A few ideas might include:
Writing a recount of what they did
Writing a letter to the Headteacher to warn him about the dinosaurs
Compare and contrast the different dinosaurs looking for similarities and differences
Draw or paint a picture of one of the dinosaurs that they found
I'm really looking forwards to taking our FS1 classes on their dinosaur safaris in the new school year. Follow @JESSDigitalUAE on Twitter to see photos from the sessions later in the year.
A word of caution to finish: From time to time some of the carnivorous dinosaurs will actually attack the smaller ones and eat them! There is a little digital blood and the victim will fall over then fade away. It's nothing too violent nor scary (my girls found it funny) but is still worth bearing in mind in case you plan on using the app with youngsters who may be scared.