mom, who were the first people in the world?

And thus began Kid’s immersion into evolution, a couple months ago in the car on the way to swim class. And I knew I’d love teaching Kid about evolution–it’s possible that Husband thinks I am too excited about it–but what I didn’t see coming is how much Kid loves it, too. Why? First, because there are dinosaurs. Kid loves dinosaurs. And second, because it’s about him. Kid loves stories about him. And a story that puts him and T-Rex into the same family tree? That is golden.

I’m no evolutionary biologist, though, so I knew I needed some help.

Fortunately, the internets are just one high-speed wireless connection away. In the car, I told him that people grew out of other animals, but that it was hard to explain, so I needed to get a book, and we could read about it together. What I didn’t mention was that I knew I was also going to get him a new toy, too.

When we got home, I headed straight for Charlie’s Playhouse and bought the Giant Timeline floor mat, which is now the most ginormous toy that Kid owns, and for this reason alone, he loves to stretch out all 18 feet of it across the floor. It starts with cells in goo and heads through some beloved dinos to get to people, marking the mass extinctions along the way. A little cartoon Charles Darwin makes wisecracks throughout.

Charlie’s Playhouse has also reviewed dozens of children’s books on evolution and has top picks for every age group. I used their recommendation to find a book that lays out evolution in a very simple story. He thinks that it’s cool that chimps are his cousins, because he really likes Space Chimps, especially when Ham throws the banana peel on the treadmill and makes Titan fall. Seriously, this movie is awful–never let your kid watch it. Monsters vs. Aliens, however, is great, featuring the Missing Link, a prehistoric creature that can breathe water or air. I had my proud face on when we unfurled the Giant Timeline to find Acanthostega, a real creature from way back when that had lungs and gills, too.

Before I was a parent, I wouldn’t have imagined that you could talk to a 5-year-old kid about something as complex and abstract as evolution. Now, I realize that you don’t have much choice about it. They bring the topic to you. And they can handle it, and it is very, very cool.

6 thoughts on “mom, who were the first people in the world?”

  1. I think I need the floor mat. My evolution talk has been received with, “So Grandma used to be a gorilla?”

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  2. That’s a great mat, thanks for the post. I had a similar question from my oldest a few years ago, and similar topics keep coming up with the younger boys. I really like the Our Family Tree book; I’ll have to look for that one. Thanks.

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  3. That is absoluely awesome. Seriously, Tina, nicely done.

    You’re absolutely right about kids being able to grasp complex stuff if you just present it right. Need to teach about the electromagnetic spectrum? Use a Baskin-Robbins 31-Flavors analogy. Works like a charm.

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