I want to be an Alienpologist

by Deb on August 16, 2010

Dinosaur skeletons at the Oxford Museum of Natural History

Welcome to the August Teach/Learn Blogging Carnival.

The Teach/Learn Blogging Carnival hosted by Science@home is for anyone, because we are all teachers and learners all the time. This month our theme is “Science”, because this is National Science Week. Science includes all sorts of practical activities and exploration and we have lots of different ideas in this carnival. Check out the links at the bottom to find some other great posts on science.

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Pretty much the point of this blog is to help children develop a love of science that will continue throughout their lives, either as an interest, hobby or even profession.  At the same time I’m certainly not trying to turn my girls into scientists – we’re just doing fun things and they’ll decide what to do with their own lives thankyouverymuch. We’ve been pottering along without a plan in this way, but on Friday the big girl announced she wanted to be an Alienpologist, which made me think about how many different threads have been heading in this direction.

The big girl has had some introduction to dinosaurs, but she wasn’t the sort of kid who had memorised 50 syllable names by 3 years old.  But over the last few years she’s had a lot of exposure in different ways and no particular order:

  • We visited the Oxford University Museum of Natural History (aren’t you jealous?) and saw many skeletons there as well as the Perth Museum.
  • She had dinosaurs as a theme for a week at preschool.
  • She’s watched ‘Land Before Time’ many times, there is a TV series as well as the film.
  • We have some kids books we’ve picked up around the place.
  • They see me getting all excited about fossils whenever we are at a museum or even beach and getting to hold Mummy’s fossil ammonite is a treat.
  • We went to DIG in York, an archaeological museum where you actually get to dig in special pits and find things from different periods of York’s past.  (You should be very jealous.)
  • She has several glow in the dark dinosaur skeletons and we made a model dinosaur skeleton.
  • She saw a shadow puppet show at Scitech about dinosaurs including the meteorite that killed them.
  • She’s drawn and painted many dinosaurs.
  • We have the mockumentary Dragon’s World – A Fantasy Made Real and have watched it several times.  This was done by the people behind Walking With Dinosaurs and has fantastic graphics, the drama bit is rushed but they have put a lot of thought into the explanations for flying and breathing fire.  The big girl is fascinated  by the idea that dinosaurs are real but dragons are pretend, and I love the way it shows investigation and places dragons into real ecosystems.  Plus I love dragons!
  • We’ve been archaeologists digging for artefacts in our sandpit, burying little toys for each other then having to search for them and make up stories of how they got there.
  • We have been watching They Might Be Giants on YouTube.  You need to listen to the song down the bottom!

That’s a pretty well rounded list, it includes facts, fantasy, imaginative play, enthusiasm, books, drama, music, puzzle making, art and museums.  Yet it has almost all been incidental and unplanned.  It’s a great example of one of my pet philosophies – learning should be broad and balanced (and fun!).  Don’t focus on one topic or one type of activity, try to provide or encourage a wide range so kids get to experience different things.  Don’t think you have to ‘do science’ as a separate activity.  It’s much deeper learning if you look from lots of different angles, plus if you move things around you might find where it flashes and sparkles.  And definitely don’t try to plan everything or be responsible for everything – the incidental stuff is happening all around you all the time, it’s powerful learning, so sit back and enjoy.

I’m feeling all nostalgic because of the particular branch of science she’s chosen for her first career.  I’m sure we’ll have many versions of ‘what I want to be when I grow up’  over the years – she’s 4! – but for many years I wanted to be a palaeo-anthropologist.  I even did palaeontology and anatomy at uni and began a PhD before changing my mind, and I still devour articles on human evolution every chance I get.

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Visit Science@home to find out more about the Teach/Learn Blogging Carnival. Teach/Learn

Please take the time to visit the other participants and check out their posts on “Science.”

  • CatWay at Adventures With Kids is Magnifying It by playing with magnifying glasses and microscopes to help your child explore the world of the very small.
  • Deb Chitwood from Living Montessori Now was never very scientifically minded. One year, though, we participated in a homeschool co-op science fair. Two months later we moved and didn’t have the opportunity to participate in a science fair again. But that experience was a great learning opportunity – and, yes, it actually was fun!
  • Monique from Your Cheeky Monkey is commencing on the road of learning about the Human Body (both inside and out).  Find out a few of the things we are doing to learn about our amazing bodies!
  • SMMART Ideas shows how you can enjoy making these sticky spiderwebs with your child, learn how spiders actually make their webs and other arachna-facts!
  • Amanda B at HomeAge says that science is not her forte, but for young children the world is one big science lesson. How do we answer all their questions so that these answers are meanings rather than facts?
  • Narelle from A Bunch of Keys has some simple kid friendly activities to do to help attract birds into the garden.
  • Deb from Science@home’s daughter has decided to be an alienpologist, and she’s reflecting on all the different ways kids are exposed to ideas and fun activities.
  • Staci at Teaching Money to Kids has a simple sorting activity that kids can do anywhere to get them to observe and compare.
  • Ash from Mm is for Me have been running their own family Science Week with lots of fun activities.

Thanks for visiting our carnival, we hope you find some interesting new blogs.

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

pip August 16, 2010 at 7:49 am

we live just outside Oxford and love going to see the dinosaurs!! one of my boys fav places to visit!!
What a fabby job she has chosen to have!! i would love that job…. just watching Ancient Aliens as i type actually. Fabby program we found on Sky History tonight!!
Pipx

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Monique August 16, 2010 at 8:50 am

Love your ‘incidental and unplanned’ comment – that’s one of the fabulous things about Science subjects isn’t it, that you can incorporate so much learning into everyday things. And yes, I am very jealous about you visiting the Oxford University Museum of Natural History ;-)
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Deb August 17, 2010 at 6:41 pm

As far as I’m concerned, it’s pretty much all about science :D I didn’t realise how many dinosaur things we’d done because it’s not a particular interest, we just do whatever fun thing we think of today.

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amandab August 16, 2010 at 9:35 am

Jealous, and jealous! :P

Princess has also been a big dinosaur lover over time. When asked,when she was 18 months old, what the beetle was that we had just been shown at Wildlife World was called she answered “triceratops?” (I am sure it began with “tri” but I can’t remember it now!)

So many great oppurtunities your girls have had! And as you have said, so many of them are just the incidental things. “Condensation” has long been a favourite word, and whenever we see it we can discuss the weather, what it has been over night, what the sky is telling us the day will be like today. It’s not planned teaching/learning it’s just …. there!

And I think I will have to get that They Might Be Giants album :)

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Deb August 17, 2010 at 6:45 pm

I think they’re things we can all do, and most of us do. OK, Oxford might be out of reach but most cities will have fossils in a museum. We all read, watch, listen and play all the time, so kids are learning all the time without any ‘teaching.’ But it’s good to reflect every now and then whether we are allowing a wide range of experiences or if our focus is too narrow.

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Deb Chitwood @ Living Montessori Now August 16, 2010 at 11:39 am

Wow! What a lot of wonderful activities you’ve done as a family – awesome! I can see why your daughter wants to be an “Alienpologist.” And I love the video – great post all around!
Deb Chitwood @ Living Montessori Now´s latest amazing offering ..Homeschool Science Fair FunMy Profile

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Deb August 17, 2010 at 6:46 pm

Being a science geek it’s easy for me to pick up those activities because they’re the ones I want to do myself. If the girls ever want to get into sport or cars I might be in trouble!

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Teacher Tom August 16, 2010 at 12:36 pm

When it comes to preschoolers, science isn’t a proper academic distinction, it’s their entire approach to learning. It’s the process of testing the world with “What if . . .?” questions and analyzing the data. Most of our kids won’t become “scientists,” but they need to explore, test, analyze, and adjust in order to learn. You know, be scientists.
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Deb August 17, 2010 at 6:50 pm

Exactly. All little kids are scientists, all the time. Unfortunately it seems to get lost somewhere in the early teens, but it’s a way of thinking that would be really useful to keep into adulthood even if you never go near science as a profession.

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Catherine August 16, 2010 at 1:19 pm

I am very jealous of some of your great fossil experiences! (and .I think my eldest son would be to, if he could understand).
And just to show that science mum doesn’t have to mean science kid, my 4 y.o. does love dinosaurs and other sciency things, but when he grows up he wants to be a builder or a bulldozer operator
Catherine´s latest amazing offering ..magnify itMy Profile

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Deb August 20, 2010 at 2:43 pm

Actually, when the big girl grows up she wants to be a Princess, but I haven’t been counting that as a career option!

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staci August 16, 2010 at 4:49 pm

Miss Love was just asking me the difference between dragons and dinosaurs. She is getting more interested in them

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Narelle August 16, 2010 at 6:54 pm

That’s gorgeous! I love that young kids can dream so big! Great activities you have done to fuel that passion. My kids loved that song too, I had to play it multiple times ;)

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Deb August 17, 2010 at 6:53 pm

It’s a tie between that one, I Never Go to Work and the Mesopotamians here at the moment. At least I get to alternate.

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Ash August 17, 2010 at 8:30 am

Oxford University Museum of Natural History and DIG in New York! I’m very jealous! Love all your learning tips and how it mention that science doesn’t have to be “a separate activity.” Thank-you for organising such a wonderful carnival!

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SMMARTideas August 21, 2010 at 2:43 am

Love the video..thanks for sharing! and thank you for the great list of dinosaur themed activities!

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