I know many kids go through a stage of being crazy about dinosaurs and yet, the passions that M has for these creatures continues to take me by surprise. She simply can’t get enough of them, whether they are plastic toys, pictures to colour in, songs to sing or fossils in a museum.
Two terrible pterosaur twins, Rotten and Rascal, are forever squabbling. One day they start bickering over a fish they have spotted and as their arguing grows louder and louder various dinosaurs step in with suggestions as to how they might solve their dispute. However, nothing stops the twins from fighting until a drooling T-Rex appears on the scene and with one big gulp silence finally reigns in dinosaur land (and no, I haven’t given the game away – you’ll need to read the story for the clever twist in the tale )
Paul Geraghty’s text is great fun to read with alliteration and rhythmic, repetitive structure that appeals to young readers and listeners, whilst also allowing adults to put on silly, squealing voices (perhaps imitating their own children….?). The humourous illustrations of the argumentative twins and the friendly dinosaurs turn the enjoyable story into a great book (a special mention should go to the fierce and menacing T-Rex with a perfect globule of slobbery drool dripping from his jaw as he asks which twin is tastiest).
The opening illustration in Rotten and Rascal – a moody, violent landscape filled with volanoes, smoke and haunting sillouettes of pterosaurs on the wing – led us to the dinosaur activity which has been keeping us busy for the last few days: the creation of our own such dino-scape complete with an erupting volcano.
We used the instructions for building an erupting volcano found in Wholly Irresponsible Experiments by Sean Connolly, although similar guidelines can be found online, for example here. The final layer of paint was mixed with some glue (to help the volcano withstand repeated eruptions) and then we added (homemade) playdough around the edge to create a terrain to fill with dinosaurs, rocks and prehistoric looking plant life (inspired by the landscapes first seen on Filth Wizardry).
This took several days to complete so we were all pretty eager to see the eruption when everything was finally in place.
To get a good eruption we needed to quadruple the quantities of bicarb and vinegar but maybe this was because we had a 1 litre bottle hidden inside the volcano – if you used a smaller bottle or film canister as some people suggest, perhaps the smaller volumes of reactants would be sufficient. The dinosaurs we had to hand in our sandbox (a large roasting tray filled with play sand which I keep hidden on a high shelf – a life saver for me when I need the kids to play for 10 minutes on their own) and the plant life came from the garden – lots of things are going to seed at the moment and the dry stems with weird-shaped seed pods worked well amongst the rocks we pulled out of the borders.
The volcano has already survived a couple of eruptions – so although it was quite a lot of work to create it has been worth it as I think we’ll get quite a lot more play out of it yet.
While we’ve been tidying away the playdough we’ve been singing along to the Early Learning Centre’s Dinosaur CD.