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Dinosaurs: The Education of a Grandma

November 6, 2021

Another Way for week of October 29, 2021

Dinosaurs: The Education of a Grandma

Do your children or grandchildren love dinosaurs? Or maybe you are also fascinated with those ancient creatures?

Not one of my grandsons, by the way, but another kiddo at church proving that dinosaurs are very popular with this little generation.

Our five grandsons have a love affair with dinosaurs. They have dozens of play dinosaur creatures and books, and know the names and how to pronounce and spell some of them! The oldest of these boys is just-turned-eight and the youngest is three.

Grandma knows very little about dinosaurs. What I do know, I’ve learned in just the last couple years. My boys have gotten a kick out of quizzing me about the dinosaur names they know and I came up with a cheat sheet to help me remember the Ptero something or other, the Velociraptors, and more. Some are the scientific names (italicized).

Personally, I never cared much for the monstrous creatures. They seemed to me like creatures out of bad dreams or the scary Halloween costumes you may be seeing this weekend. Dolls and teddy bears were more to my liking, and my daughters largely felt the same way.

I think my first real introduction to dinosaurs as a child, was at the Field Museum in Chicago, Illinois. We went there on a sixth grade field trip. The Chicago museum was named for a business magnet of the day who was the major museum benefactor: Marshall Field (also had a department store that became Macy’s). The museum was established in the 1890s, about the time my grandmother was born. One hundred years ago it moved to its current location in May 1921, where “crowds lined up for miles to visit the Field Museum on opening day” according to FieldMuseum.org.

That museum eventually became home for “Sue,” the “largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus rex ever discovered.” She was found by a woman named Sue in South Dakota, and added to the Chicago collection of dinosaurs in 2000. I’ve never seen it. I do remember seeing a creature now called Gorgeous George (now that I can say and remember). From 1956 to 1992, a cousin of T. rex called Daspletosaurus (or as it was known at the time, Gorgosaurus) was the Field Museum’s dinosaur centerpiece. (More at https://www.fieldmuseum.org/blog/sue-t-rex-there-was-gorgeous-george )

Our grandsons talk about the Ankylosaurus, Brachiosaurus, Stegosaurus, Triceratops,  Tyrannosaurus, Diplodocus and Pterodactylus (which they will be quick to remind you was a winged reptile, not a dino) to name only a small fraction of their favorites. They talk about plant eaters, meat eaters, (some as small as a chicken) and omnivores, or will tell you the region where a particular species lived and what it ate. I’m told that crocodiles are a remnant of the dinosaur periods. Two of my grandsons have become “dino snobs,” as their mother calls them, looking down on their three-year-old brother for loving a simple T-Rex when there are more obscure dinos, like Rugops.

Jam packed with interest history, stories, explorations, awesome!

Why are these creatures so endlessly fascinating to children? My grandsons check out every book in the library they can find on the subject, and have practically memorized entire sections of their dinosaur books at home. My oldest daughter says she and her husband are sick of “dinosaur talk” (and arguments) taking over dinner and just about any family outing. But as a stranger at a playground recently pointed out to her, having a passion for a subject is a great thing in kids. It inspires them to read, research, and learn more.

I think as a child I was taught that dinosaurs couldn’t possibly have lived on earth millions of years ago, and so I thought of them as silly and impossible. Many Christians at that time thought the world wasn’t older than 5000 years at most. The paleontologists who have dug up bones and pieced together huge dinosaurs and studied the planet’s history have showed me that our God and Creator is truly as big and amazing as the universe. We know so, so little of this vast universe, created by God over eons. Like many other questions we have, we can leave them in God’s hands, who reigns in unimagined realms.

***

Do your kiddos have this fascination/addiction/love affair?

If not dinos, what with? I’m all ears. Or perhaps beaks, teeth, scary eyes!

Send comments to anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.  

7 Comments
  1. My grandsons (the 7 yo & 11 yo ones) are addicted at the moment to MineCraft, a popular online game. I think I’d rather have them addicted to something that they can learn from and learn to research and…well….LEARN! LOL
    What a great idea to come up with a cheat sheet. SMART Grandma!
    I enjoyed the post and reading about these fun interactions.

    • Yeah, I hear you, I don’t think I’ll complain about the dinosaur period. So to speak!
      You gotta be smarter than your grandkids, Right?
      Fun interactions unless you’re the parents listening to it and intervening at times. 🙂

  2. Sue sparks permalink

    I am always flabbergasted by their pronounations of the names. Even after they pronounce them for me, I still can’t say it right. Smart little boys.

    • I’m glad you and I are in the same camp here: Yes they are smart. Must have gotten it from the Sparks side of the family. Ha ha! Hope you have a nice weekend.

  3. I don’t remember my children being fascinated with dinosaurs. My grandchildren were though, especially the boys. Not long ago when I taught two-year-olds at church, I’d be sure to grab plenty of dinosaurs from the resource room. Otherwise, they’d fight over them.

    • This is interesting that you don’t remember your children being into dinosaurs, and now the grands are. My daughter was telling us last evening that her one son in K. has tried to teach the others at school (while playing) what he knows/understand, and gets frustrated when they don’t listen to him. This too will pass!

  4. From Nick Russian:

    I first learned of dinosaurs in the early 1950s when the “tea man,” a traveling grocery salesman, gave me drawings of them during one of his regular stops at my parent’s house. (He used freebies to soften a sale.) I was fascinated by them even though I couldn’t imagine that they existed.

    At least one religion teaches that humans and dinosaurs coexisted. Apparently, they couldn’t fit in the Ark and perished in the flood?
    Or maybe dinosaurs were one of God’s early experiments at creating life on Earth. If so, God has quite an imagination.

    And so do humans. The knowledge scientists have gained about the nature of reality is amazing. This discovery will go on at least until they learn what caused, and what existed before, the Big Bang(or however it all began). Human curiosity is boundless.

    Before the many scientific discoveries occurred, humans had varied beliefs about the universe. Some of them are poetic, such as this Inuit saying: Perhaps they are not stars in the sky, but rather openings where our loved ones shine down to let us know they are happy.

    Nick Russian

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