Lessons from a life-sized relic for Sheffield pupils

Fox Hill Primary pupils Oliver and Thomas with Sophie the dinosaur
Fox Hill Primary pupils Oliver and Thomas with Sophie the dinosaur
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A dinosaur day on a huge and realistic scale rolled away the centuries for primary school palaeontologists.

Sophie the animatronic dinosaur mesmerised youngsters and later, their parents, at Fox Hill Primary School in Sheffield, when she filled the playground with her bulk. A baby dinosaur, Jack, added to the interest.

Dinosaur at Fox Hill Primary

Dinosaur at Fox Hill Primary

The special day for nursery and reception children included workshops in the morning, with a dinosaur bone and fossil hunt. Working as palaeontologists, pupils investigated different species of dinosaur and carefully brushed off sand and stones to reveal embedded teeth, claws, heads and other fascinating items.

Principal Matt Revill said: “Children loved this so much that we set up a palaeontologists’ workstation in the classroom so that they can hunt out more bones and fossils in their sand tray and tactile area.

“The children have developed their creative skills by having a selection of fossils to draw and paint and have produced some excellent paintings of a range of different dinosaurs. We have counted dinosaurs, made up stories around them, made fossils and our own dinosaur swamp, among other things.”

Juliet Owen, EYFS leader, said: “It has been wonderful to see all children thoroughly immersing themselves in the theme!”

All of the children in nursery and reception classes were able to meet life-like dinosaur replica Sophie, and saw for themselves what dinosaurs would have looked like, how they would have moved, the noises they made and more.

A whole school assembly provided further facts relating to the large visitor they had entertained.

Mr revill added: “All of the children were mesmerised with Sophie and their questions showed just how engaged and interested they were. For example, they asked their teachers questions such as:“Would real dinosaurs have been just like Sophie?” “Why did the dinosaurs die out?” “Why did dinosaurs move like that?” “What would dinosaurs like Sophie have eaten?”

After school a ‘Dinosaur Stomp’ took place for children and their families to enjoy time together with Sophie and engage in a variety of activities including making fossils, crafts, book stalls and more. An art gallery displayed the children’s work and that of family members who had been challenged to create models or pictures of dinosaurs at home. The array of striking and creative models and artwork was amazing, said the principal.

A raffle and chocolate tombola added to the fun. Children were offered the chance to have professional photographs taken with Sophie.

“It was great to see all of the children so engaged and excited by this special day. They were amazed to see Sophie moving around the hall and it really helped to bring their topic to life. We had a great turn out from our families to support this event and a great time was had by all,” said Mr Revill.

“I would like to thank all of the staff who helped to set it up and gave their support, and also to all the children and our families who came along to make it a great event.”