For the little paleontologist

If you are a parent, chances are you have gone through, or are going through, or will be going through the “age of the dinosaurs.”  While G’s level of interest has not reached the great heights A’s and S’s did at his age, he still enjoys a good dinosaur story now and then.   I remember the pleasure in being able to recognize and rattle off their prehistoric and substantial names when I was young.  I see that same joy for large, multi-syllabic words in my boys as well.  They love being experts in their chosen field.

Below are a few of our favorite dinosaur books over the years.  I have limited these to a.)  the ones my own paleontologists genuinely loved, and b.) books which have increased our knowledge of the dinosaur world, whether the books were fiction or non-fiction.  In other words, I have not included any of the multitude of whimsical dinosaur stories out on the market.

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The Children’s Dinosaur Encyclopedia has amazing artwork, detailed descriptions of each dinosaur family, as well as information on where the dinos were originally discovered.  My two oldest have literally memorized this entire volume.

T is for Terrible by Peter McCarty was an absolute favorite of S back in the preschool/kindergarten era. S checked this out of the library so many times I thought we actually owned a copy.   We still deeply love Peter McCarty for his gentle illustrations and sense of humor.  Although this is not an informative book, it helps us think about what it may feel like to be a dinosaur, and possibly understand our own feelings, too.

Sammy and the Dinosaurs by Ian Whybrow, as the cover shows, is about a little boy who carries his bucket full of dinosaurs with him wherever he goes.  Sammy loves to repeat the names of all his dinosaur friends.  Stegosaurus. Triceratops.  Apatosaurus.  And, of course, we do, too.

In Barnum Brown: Dinosaur Hunter by David Sheldon we learn some of  the tools of the trade, a little  history of paleontology, and about an amazing man who could “smell” dinosaur bones.  The unusual Barnum Brown discovered the now popular “tyrant lizard king,” Tyrannosaurus Rex!

Margaret and H.A. Rey’s Curious George and the Dinosaur Discovery is a fun way to introduce your little paleontologist to the tools of the trade.  George learns how to use a pick, a brush, a wheelbarrow, and also learns that patience is an important guide for a geologist and dino digger.

The very prolific Aliki provides us with one of the most informative books for 3-8 year olds on what it means to be a paleontologist.  From discovering a dig site, to carefully sifting through layers of rock and dirt, to hand wrapping each piece and reassembling it in museums, she gives little ones a taste of what really goes on.  Your reader will know how geologists, paleontologists, photographers and museum workers all work together to get the job done.

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After all that reading I wanted G to get some hands-on experience and playtime.  We do have a purchased dinosaur excavation kit that he sometimes chips away at, but the real fun was when we made our own dinsoaur dig sensory bin.

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Coffee makes wonderful dirt if you buy an inexpensive brand, and don’t mind the additional mess.  Children love the gritty texture.   We always have rocks about the house.  I threw in a few wooden beads and, of course, plastic dinosaurs from a dollar store.  Notice the dinosaur skeleton?

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G has had a great time digging and sifting and brushing, re-discovering his dinosaurs.

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S was even tempted to join him for a bit.  Of course, by this time, it was all about digging their hands in the coffee.

My hope is they never outgrow playing together.

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