Children love dinosaurs. They were big, different and no longer exist in this world.
This curiosity is a great opportunity for learning and one that every parent should take advantage of.
DID YOU KNOW THAT “DINOSAUR” MEANS MONSTROUS LIZARD?
These monstrous lizards have lived on our earth for millions of years.
The dinosaurs actually lived here for 160 million years, while we humans haven´t been around for more than 4-5 million years.
Luckily the dinosaurs went extinct before we humans arrived, and so no human has ever seen a real life monstrous lizard.
READ BOOKS ABOUT DINOSAURS
A good starting point is reading a book about dinosaurs.
The animals had fascinating shapes and colours. It may seem strange to think about the fact that they no longer exist, but at what time did they exist? To answer that question you need to talk about time.
It´s not easy to fathom that the earth is 4.5 billion years old when we humans live for such a short period of time. And for a child, who has just started their life, it may be even harder to understand.
It can be helpful to draw a timeline. Divide it into billions of years. Then divide the billions of years into 100 millions of years. It is now possible to show when each dinosaur was alive on the timeline, from 240 to 66 million years ago.
TALK ABOUT TIME AND EVOLUTION
Not all dinosaurs went extinct when a meteorite hit earth 66 million years ago. A type of tiny carnivorous dinosaur known as theorpods survived and later developed into birds. All the birds we see today are relatives of these dinosaurs.
This knowledge makes it possible to talk about what evolution is and how life has developed on earth. It can be helpful to look at the timeline again when talking about this.
The first bacteria originated in the ocean about 3.6 billion years ago. Terrestrial life came to be about 475 million years ago. Humans first originated approximately 2.5 million years ago, and the modern humans that we are today have only existed for about 200 000 years.
In light of this it can be hard to understand just how short a day, a week or a year is, but time is a great subject for reflection and philosophy.
TALK ABOUT FOSSILS
It´s exciting to collect dinosaur figures and learn the facts about each species. What were their names, what did they eat, and how did they live? It´s interesting to find out how we know so much about these creatures, even though they don´t exist anymore.
Our store has dinosaur toys that let the children pretend to be real paleontologists and excavate their own fossils. If you see a spark in interest you can continue to learn and explore by watching movies about dinosaurs and visit museums that have dinosaur fossils on display.
WATCH MOVIES AND VISIT MUSEUMS
If you have the opportunity you should visit a museum of natural history and see real dinosaur fossils. Almost all capitals have a museum of natural history, and they have so much exciting things for the kids to see.
Personally I have enjoyed taking my children to see the dinosaur collection at the museum of natural history in London. It really is an amazing collection.
Something else that´s also quite amazing are the movies that have been released in recent years with believable computer animations. My favourite movie is still Jurassic Park, the cult classic.
Exploring a subject over time will give the children deeper knowledge. They will learn about time, both how we see it in our day-to-day life, but also in the form of millions and billions of years. They also have to think about why the dinosaurs aren´t around anymore, and how life has developed on earth.
These types of reflections can spark compassion and let the conversation naturally flow into how we should take care of everything that lives and shares our world today.
Parents and other adults can have a huge impact on how much a child can learn from a toy.
Nothing beats the connection that forms when humans interact together.
It´s important not to leave the responsibility for learning to an app or a toy because:
- It´s the process and the small moments that are important when children play.
- What kind of questions arise? What kind of conversations can you have? What challenges does the child have to solve? Which words are useful to the task? Enjoy the experience together.
- When children play they have to make their own decisions and conclusions.
- Sometimes they do this all on their own, or together with other children, or with support from adults. This is a great way for the children to develop their social skills and self-regulation.
- Let the child play alone and control the narrative sometimes, and join in on the fun at other times.