Sunday, August 26, 2012

Land of Blue Skies and Horses

Welcome to Mongolia!

I let my daughter pick the next country we are going to visit.  I wanted it to be an Asian country so I gave some minor directions and let her decide.  Mongolia is what she chose, know why? It was colored purple on the map so she thought it looked pretty :)  Good enough reason I guess.  Mongolia is a  landlocked country with Russia to the north and China to the south.  It has been part of both countries at different times throughout history and, in fact, "Inner Mongolia" is considered a Chinese province.  We will be talking about "Outer Mongolia", found on the world map at 47.5ºN/106.5ºE. (If your map is like ours it's the pretty purple country!) A land of very high altitude, the average altitude is 5800ft above sea level, and a land of extreme temperatures, anywhere from -30C to 30ºC.  Mongolia is home to the coldest capital city in the world, Ulan Bator (aka Ulaan Baatar) and the oldest national park in the world, Bogd Kahn National Park, established in 1778.

Mongolia has a rich history and was once a vast empire ruled by Genghis Khan, notorious and so ruthless that China built the Great Wall of China to keep his armies out.  It is a country where horses outnumber people and where half the population are nomadic shepherds.  These nomads move around the plains raising livestock and living off the land in felt tents called gers.  Mongolia is also a country rich in prehistoric history, the Gobi desert in southeastern Mongolia is so full of dinosaur fossils that tourists can pick them up themselves.  Long,long ago what is now a desert was a sea and many dinosaurs and marine creatures lived there.  If you want to find dinosaurs fossils - this is the place to go!  The first finding of dinosaur eggs was in Mongolia and my kids (like most) love dinosaurs so that was what I decided to do for our first project. 

Archeology- kid style :)

We went on a little field trip to see an exhibit called Plantosaurus Rex at the Conservatory of Flowers - it had huge dinosaur models surrounded by plants that might have lived at that time - kinda cool.  Anyway in the gift shop (always have to stop at the gift shop) they had little kits where you could excavate your own mini dino and another one where you could hatch your own dino egg.  Eesy-peesy, ready-made project well worth the $4 and $6 price tag :) 

But for those of you who don't have a cool science store available or don't want to spend $$ on basically a toy with compacted sand around it - you can do it yourself.  I did 2 versions of this this in my preschool class and they were both really fun.

Dinosaur Egg - paper mache version
I know I said I wasn't going to do paper-mache for awhile but I did this a long time ago when I was teaching 2 year olds and it was really easy.  For the project you will need:
  • balloons
  • mini dinosaurs
  • paper mache
  • paint
 1. Stick a mini dinosaur inside a ballon and blow it up however big you want your egg to be
2.  Paper-mache balloon "egg" and let dry
3.  Paint eggs whatever color you want - after all no one really knows what color they were
4.  Introduce them to the kids and tell them that you found some old dino eggs and that in a few days they will hatch and you can find out what kind of dinos are inside! The anticipation is very exciting!

Dinosaur Excavation

Put out this sensory/science project with some hammers and brushes and let the kids unearth some dinos!  You will need:
  • Mini dinosaurs or dino skeletons if you can find
  • recipe for sand dough or salt dough (available on internet everywhere)
1.  Make dough and stick the dinos/bones inside
2.  Let dry for a few days so its hard
3.  Give the kids some hammers, toy screwdrivers(picks), and paintbrushes and let 'em make a mess!!

Sorry I don't have any pictures of the last 2 projects but I did them many years ago!  The kids really enjoyed them although a little muscle was needed for the excavation.  Have fun!!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for writing about this--- I've seen those science kits, but wondered if they were any good or not. Thanks for the review!