Friday, February 13, 2009

Celebrating Darwin's birthday with the kids

This weekend is the perfect time to celebrate Darwin's birthday with the kids, coming as it does on the heels of the big man's big 200th yesterday.

Here are some simple ways to celebrate:

Sing Happy Birthday

We all know the monkey version, right? Here's one way to sing it:

Happy birthday to you, you live in a zoo
You look like a monkey; he's my cousin too!

Sometimes kids think humans are descended from monkeys, when we actually share a common ancestor and so are more like distant cousins. We're also not monkeys, we're apes....but that didn't fit into the song so well. Anyway, it will get the conversation rolling.

Read a good book

Our bibliography of children's books about evolution includes 89 titles sorted by age of reader (3-15) and type of book (comic, biography, etc.) We also flag our Top Twelve picks. Take a look at our list, and then head to the library or bookstore.

Take a climb on the tree of life

First, find a plant or animal together. Really. Go to the park and see what you find. Or just look under a rock in your backyard. Find the nearest houseplant, fish tank, or bathtub mold, anything.

Specimen in hand, now your job is to locate it on the tree of life. At the vast Tree of Life project, you can climb onto a branch and see gorgeous photos of representative animals. Climb around for a while and everything starts making a whole lot of systematic sense. Where does your sample fit?

I also love this page of beautiful circular tree of life diagrams put together by a couple of professors at the University of Texas. Scroll down to the last diagram, which is simplified and terrific for talking with older kids. Print it out, hang it on the wall, and let the conversation roll.

And of course, consider a Giant Timeline!

At Charlie's Playhouse we're all about celebrating evolution with kids all the time. If you've got a Giant Timeline floor mat or Creature Cards, pull 'em out and see what happens. If you don't have one, get one!


  1. This bibliography is great. We already had lots of Darwin books, and we had ordered and received many of the new ones you had mentioned. But I just went through the list and ordered $300 more from Amazon. What a great list!
    Doing our part for economic stimulus, especially for writers and publishers on this topic!

    I stated reading "One Beetle Too Many" to my 7 year old (Darwin) this morning and we love it.

    Thanks for sharing all this info!
    Happy Darwin Day Party - wished we lived close enough to make it to the party.
    Tamara (mother to Darwin and Huxley)

  2. This is exactly what I have been looking for! I love this blog, and I love Charlie's Playhouse website! Thanks!