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My little one likes many different things, but Dinosaurs are his absolute favourite! This October, while planning the celebrations for the International Dinosaur Month with my little one, I was inspired to note the completely unexpected ways in which his fascination for these amazing creatures has helped me over the years!
Dinosaurs were the biggest and the fiercest animals to ever walk the earth! They were also the strangest and the most magnificent animals that roamed the earth much before we humans inhabited it. They came in all types and sizes – herbivores, carnivores, huge scary ones; tiny, bird-like, chicken-sized ones – the list is limitless! Fascinating children and adults for centuries, these majestic creatures once lived on our planet and were rendered extinct some 65 million years ago. But even today, these wonderful creatures continue to amaze young minds and captivate them.
My little one was around three years old, when his fascination for dinosaurs began. He was gifted a set of glow-in-the-dark toy dinos for his birthday; and he took to these strange creatures from the past, like a moth to a flame! They became his constant companions in playful moments as well as when we went out on drives or walks or even to the park, school being the only place where they didn’t go with him, as they were sadly not welcome there, except for 'Show and Tell'.
And yet, I never truly appreciated his fancy, till one day, on a visit to our bookstore; when he walked up to me with a big (for him) book on dinosaurs by Dougal Dixon. This was not a story book for children, but a serious looking, and quite frankly, pretty intimidating (to me) book with facts and figures and a lot of details. I tried telling him that maybe the book is for older children, but he had already made up his mind to buy the very same book and so it was, that we brought home a treasure trove of information!
For a month after that, my little one spent almost all his time with the book. Sometimes I’d read it out to him, but most of the time, he would just sit with that large book on his lap and look at the pictures for hours. The information in the book is surprisingly simple for children to understand; and the pictures depict silhouettes of dinosaurs in comparison with humans, helping children get a clear idea as to what a certain dinosaur might have looked like.
Quite honestly, this book got me hooked too. For someone who had never taken to these creatures up until then, I found out that I actually liked them. Or maybe it was the idea of them. It was definitely a bonus that this new fascination helped us both explore, experiment and learn about science, the environment and animals generally. But most importantly, I found that this dino-love was not only teaching us about these fascinating creatures, but was also helping him (and me) in other, rather unexpected ways!
1. Attention to detail
One of the prominent positives I noticed since we started learning about our ‘dino buddies,’ was that my little one started paying more attention to detail. He would go on and on about the size of each dinosaur – the height or each dinosaur, what it ate, what were the different types, what were their different names – and the list was endless! Plus, all our activities revolved around dinosaurs since then – making a T-Rex out of playdough, drawing a Brachiosaurus with its long neck, reaching up to eat the leaves of the tallest plants – there were no limits to our dino-craze and most importantly, everything was beautifully detailed!
2. Talk about the environment
The dinosaurs’ living conditions was a major area of focus for us for a long time. How the earth was at the time of dinosaurs, what the dinosaurs ate, how they lived, became our favourite topics of meal-time conversation. The fact that these humungous creatures ultimately faced extinction helped us talk about the present day environment, how the exploitation by humans is adversely affecting it and what we can do to protect our environment. Although he is very young to talk about major environment related issues, these conversations helped us talk about the general idea of the importance of going green.
3. An ice-breaker!
Yet another astonishing fallout of my little one’s dino-fascination was that it helped him make friends in school! I don’t much remember myself at his age being an admirer of these peculiar creatures, but I found that a lot of kids actually love dinosaurs and my little one’s unfettered love for dinosaurs won him many like-minded friends in no time. In fact, I can actually recall attending a lot of dino-themed parties around that time; and sleepovers too, where kids wore PJs with cute dino-prints!
4. The idea of mortality
The fact that dinosaurs were once the biggest and the most powerful creatures of the earth, but are now extinct helped me talk to him about the general idea of mortality and death; thereby empowering him subtly with the idea that no matter what else, life goes on.
5. Adapt or perish
Learning about dinos, we also learnt one very important lesson that children and adults alike can take from these mesmerising creatures – that it is important to adapt to the situations in our lives. Like the dinos did. When the conditions became less conducive to their existence, the ones that could not adapt, perished, and the ones that could, evolved into the present day birds!
And finally a lesson for all: Acceptance
The one lesson that my little one taught me through all this was that we should accept everyone and everything at face value and without prejudice. The animals that I found huge and scary, my little one was fearless enough to call them ‘cute!’ It was me who was prejudiced and thought these creatures were strange, but my little one fearlessly accepted them as they were!
I am glad to have been his buddy in this adventure with the dinos; and could give him the opportunity and the freedom to be a teacher to me! I hope his bachpan has benefitted as much from this as I have from having been a part of it. I love to be a part of my child’s fearless bachpan, Khuljaye Bachpan for him!
PS: October is celebrated as the International Dinosaur Month; and you and your little ones can celebrate by getting to know these fascinating creatures more through books, activities and even having a dinosaur movie marathon!
For some interesting reading on dinosaurs, do pick up Dougal Dixon’s Dinosaurs - the book that hooked us!
And for Interesting dino-activities, visit http://www.printactivities.com/Theme-Printables/Dinosaur-Printables.html