It is a well-known fact that children learn quickly and easily all the things that they want to learn. When they apply themselves to a task of their choosing, it is amazing what they can accomplish. Therefore it is the philosophy of many early childhood programs to follow your child’s lead. In fact, this is exactly what the Montessori Method and, if I’m not mistaken, “Unschooling” pedagogies preach.
Since Gavin was little, I have been trying to feed his interests (even before I knew about the Montessori Method or heard about unschooling) – from Thomas and Friends to the Human Body and now to dinosaurs. Ever since we went to Universal Studios in Singapore, Gavin’s interests in dinosaurs has gone into overdrive to the point of Dino-Mania. All he wants to learn about each day is dinosaurs. Unfortunately, because he has always shown very little interest in dinosaurs up until recently, I haven’t really bought him much by way of dinosaur books or materials to learn from. In an attempt to make up for lost time, I have been trying to enlarge his library of dinosaur books and dinosaur resources.
Firstly, we have the song that started it all – “I am a Paleontologist” by They Might be Giants from the album “Here Comes Science“. We have a Dinosaur Dot to Dot book – thanks to Aunty SM who bought this book for him. Gavin enjoyed the dot-to-dot activity and whizzed through almost the entire book within the first couple of days he got the book. Now that he is displaying a greater interest in the subject of the book, we are going back to read the information from it.
He has the Cat in the Hat Learning Library: Oh Say Can You Say Di-No-Saur? which I bought for him ages ago. And when we were at the Universal Studios shop, we bought him Step into Reading: Dinosaur Days. After reading it once, he surprised me by reciting the facts that he had read from it. Despite having read the book myself, I couldn’t recall those facts he recited until I looked back at the book and found that they were correct. Clearly, a child is interested in a subject makes learning appear effortless.
I bought him a Dinosaur Sticker Atlas which was similar to the Animal Sticker Atlas I bought for him some time back and we’ve been learning the names of new dinosaurs and the parts of the world that they appeared in. This activity involves sticking the stickers of the various dinosaurs on the continents that they were most commonly found.
Then there was the Dinosaur Paleontology Kit which I found in Toys ‘R’ Us. There are actually quite a number of brands in the market selling these kits. Personally, I reckon the novelty of this activity wears off after one kit.
At Toys ‘R’ Us, they have a great series of educational jigsaw puzzles by The Learning Journey. A couple of their titles are on a dinosaur theme. There are two parts to this puzzle – fix the jigsaw puzzle and find the cards.
We also got him the Top Trumps: Dinosaurs card game which we found in Toys ‘R’ Us Singapore. Each card offers the vital stats of each dinosaur – weight, height, length, age, intelligence, and killer rating. There is also a short paragraph about each dinosaur featured.
Gavin’s National Geographic Kids Ultimate Dinopedia arrived today and both Daddy and Gavin were tearing through it before bed time. We’ve also got the Magic School Bus: in the Time of Dinosaurs and the on the way. I tried letting him watch the Magic School Bus the Busasaurus while waiting for the book to arrive but he got scared:
He didn’t seem to like the Land Before Time either:
Although he didn’t get scared looking at the life-size dinosaurs roaring away at the National Science Center, he seems to find the dinosaur cartoons on TV scary – go figure…
Online, we have Kids Dinos on the Kids Know It Network. They have games and interesting facts on Dinosaurs on this site. There are also plenty of terrific Dinosaur apps for the iPhone and iPad. They have a number of book apps, including the National Geographic Kids Ultimate Dinopedia (for iPad only) but I’d already bought the hardcopy by the time I found out about it. Many of the informative dinosaur apps can be quite advanced, especially for the younger children. Here are a couple that are great for young children:
- Baby Explorer: Dinosaurs – Dream Cortex
- Lots of Dinosaurs – I like this one because it provides information about the dinosaurs in ways that make more sense to children, e.g. Sauroposeidon could peek into a 6-storey building.
- Dinosaurs 360 offers information, puzzles, and a quiz to test your recall.
- Discovering Dinosaurs is an early reader book for children as well.
There are a lot more interesting dinosaur apps available but these are all we’ve managed to get through so far.
I’ve also created a new set of linking memory cards with a dinosaur theme for Gavin. Gavin’s interest in linking memory was beginning to flag in recent times, but these new linking memory cards with the dinosaurs seems to have revived his interest. Download them here:
If you know of any other dinosaur resources that you highly recommend, please share them in the comments below.