“Triassic, Jurassic, Cretaceous! Such difficult words, my gracious! They happened, you know, way back long ago, for these were the dinosaur ages!”
Ah, how the words of that simple poem ring in the ears of my memories! We chose to homeschool our daughters, and what a delight that experience brought this mama! God used my desire to teach in the best way possible. And having an outlet for my overly-active creativity added my own uniqueness to the fun.
One year, we did a unit on dinosaurs, complete with two huge, 3-D cardboard dinos displayed for the first day. The poem above came from a cassette tape with an hour’s worth of dinosaur poems and songs, including “Danny, the Dancing Dinosaur” who “loved to dance and he loved to roar”! I recall snippets from others, but the short poem above stood out because our daughters loved saying the “big words.” In fact, they could say parasaurolophus and ichthyosaurus long before I could even identify them!
That September, we took a trip to Dinosaurland in Virginia. During our drive, I slipped the dino cassette into the car’s tape player to surprise the girls. Singing with different music helped pass the time. This one delighted the girls and their mama and would be played often, with lots of dinosaur stomping and roaring … and little girl giggles.
Dinosaurland brought thrills as we toured the park-like grounds. What’s behind that tree? Oh my! A stegosaurus! And over there … is that … could that be … yes, it is! It’s a tyrannosaurus rex! And look! There’s blood on its mouth from its recent kill lying on the ground in front of him! (Daddy thought this a realistic display, but mama hurried the girls towards the gift shop!)
On the homefront, one of the reading activities we did remains a favorite of the girls. Each of them picked a dinosaur—a brontosaurus for Holly and a triceratops for Sarah. (Note: this came before we realized there’s no such thing as a brontosaurus! What we grew up calling a brontosaurus, the paleontologists first called an Apatosaurus and first names stand. ☹)
We found the length of each dinosaur … without the benefit of internet for all of you hurrying to google it. Holly’s came in at a whopping 75 feet, while “Cera” barely topped 30. Next, we cut one-foot lengths of colored yarn. Each time the girls read a book, they chose a colored strand and tied it to the last one they’d chosen, winding them into a raggedy ball. Of course, since “Cera’s” ball was completed sooner, “our Sarah” started adding to the bronto-ball to finish it.
To end our unit study, we bought the girls wooden skeleton kits to put together. Did you ever try to glue the backbones of a triceratops down it’s curvy spine, trying to decide if this piece is a tiny bit bigger than that one, making it needed closer to the end of the tail? And how in the world do you make a parasaurolophus’ long head protrusions stay in place?
I don’t think God had this much trouble when He put those skeletal pieces together to create dinosaurs, but I’m glad He did so. What joy the animal world in all its many varieties, past and present, brings to our family and many others around the world!
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