Friday, July 15, 2011

Dino Mom

My five year old LOVES dinosaur. Tis the age, I guess (it started around 4 years old). Between him and my work in an elementary library I have had my share of dinosaurs books and items to preview. So here is my list of my favorite dinosaur books, films, and crafts.


1.)  Dinomummy by Phillip Lars Manning: This is one of my favorite dinosaur books about mummified remains a teenager found in 2000. The book has a great mix of non-fiction and fiction. It is great to see the computer graphics of what they think happened to Dakota the dinosaur based on the remains. A true detective discovery.

2.) Dinosaurs In Your Backyard: The Coolest, Scariest Creatures Found in the USA by Hugh Brewster: This book is a new discovery for me but I loved the illustrations and text features. It was especially fascinating to see what the continental United States looked like during the time of dinosaurs and where oceans lied. The text is very informational but still easy to understand for a preschooler.

3.) Prehistoric Actual Size by Steve Jenkins: I am the hugest Steve Jenkins fan. I recommend you get your hands on any book he has written and/or illustrated and devour them with your children immediately. He creates amazing cut paper artwork with exceptional eye to detail. Being an actual size book it was fun to see that not all things were huge. However, we would flap the book over our heads for the massive flying reptiles and imagine the horror of what it would be like to have something like that overhead.

4.) Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins by Barbara Kerley: This picture book is the true story of an artist 150 years ago who was the first person to create life size replicas of dinosaurs. It follows the life of Waterhouse Hawkins and his tremendous successes (having Queen Victoria for a dinner party inside a replica of a dinosaur) and defeats (a mob boss destroying his museum in Central Park, NY). I wonder if one day we will excavate Central Park and find Hawkins work?

5.) My Daniel by Pam Conrad: This was one of my favorite chapter books as a child. It is geared more to ages 9 and older.It is the story of an old women who shows her grandchildren a dinosaur fossil her and her brother found as children on their farm in Nebraska. The majority of the story is a flashback of the discovery and excavation of the dinosaur fossil. If you or your child like historical fiction this is a great read.

6.) Dinosaur Cove Series by Rex Stone. This is a chapter book series for beginning readers. My son likes this as a read aloud, but children in 1st-3rd grade if they like dinosaurs will find this series enjoyable. It is about a boy and his friend who likes to look for fossils finds a secret cave that puts them into dinosaur time. Each book follows their adventure with one of these giants.

7.) and 8.) National Geographic Kids Ultimate Dinopedia by Don Lessem and Insiders: Dinosaurs by John Long. Both of these books are great expansive reference books for older children. The illustrations are engaging and hours of fact finding can be hand. P.S. I am a fan of most books National Geographic Kids and Insiders.

 1) Land Before Time film and show series. Most people are familiar with this series. It is just sweet little movies with great messages for preschoolers.

2.) Dinosaur Train (PBS): TV Show that has a family of dinosaur travel through eras on a train and learn about different dinosaurs. Great for preschoolers that like both dinosaurs and trains. A side note: PBS Kids has a computer game on their website that goes along with this TV show that is really fun and informative.

3.) Walt Disney's Dinosaur: I think this film is stunning and sweet and I am not sure why it hasn't been widely known as other Disney films.

4.) and 5.) Chased By Dinosaurs (BBC) and Clash of the Dinosaurs (Discovery Channel). Both of these documentaries are really fun for all ages, although Clash needs parental guidance. Chased by Dinosaurs is described as a cross between Jurassic Park and Crocodile Hunter. It is fun to see the size of a man to a dinosaur in computer graphics. Clash of the Dinosaurs is my new favorite because it looks at scientific features they have found dinosaurs to have and how that made them survive. My five year old loves it! PS. Both are currently Play Instantly on Netflix if you want to check them out.


1) Dinosaur Excavation Kits: There are many brands out there. This is the one we did, but with a Brachiosaurus rather than a T-Rex. All kids should have the chance to be a paleontologist. I was surprised how difficult it was to get to the bones. It took a lot of elbow grease. Also once we found the bones "A" had a hard time stopping so I think some of the bones got chipped away. He holds his skeleton fossil like a prized trophy among his prized possessions.
2) Create your own Dinosaur Environment Using Live Plants. This is one of my most favorite things we did this summer. We took an under the bed storage bin and drilled a few holes in the bottom. Then we lay down pebbles and potting soil. "A" then picked plants that he thought looked prehistoric (ferns, grass, plants with colored leaves) and we planted them. Next I used more pebbles to make a path. Lastly, he decorated the environment with dino figurines, items from his shell and rock collection, driftwood and he added cars and a tunnel Daddy made from a PVC pipe a for good measure. It turned into more of a Jurassic Park environment, but he gets to drive and play so it's okay with me. Later we can change dinos out for jungle animals if we want. Make sure to water with a light mist every couple of days to keep your plants alive.

"A's" Jurassic Park with live plants

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