Category Archives: Exploration

Great Ways for Kids to Learn Through Exploration

 

In the classroom, your little one practices learning through reading, listening, and following directions. These are extremely useful tools, but they only represent one way to learn. It’s important that kids are also given the chance to learn in other ways. For example, exploratory learning is one of the most effective ways for kids to gain new knowledge. This capitalizes on kids’ natural curiosity and lets them make their way to the answer for themselves. 

Not only is exploratory learning naturally fun, but it’s also often more likely to stick. When kids discover something for themselves, they’re able to understand it more completely. You can also supplement their discoveries with more structured learning; for example, Fossilicious offers tons of great books and educational material for kids learning about fossils. Here are some more ways your little ones can harness their curiosity and explore the world together. 

Start a Fossil Collection 

We’d be remiss not to highlight the benefits of fossil research, collection, and study. Kids have a lot to learn from fossils, and they’re not too hard to find out in nature. Pay close attention to the rocks in your yard or on a hike; you might be surprised how many fossils you find on the rocks’ surface! Bring along a bag your child can use to collect small fossils to investigate later on. 

You can also help your child create a spreadsheet or collection catalog on their laptop. This is especially useful for fossils you can’t take home with you. Some are on rocks that are much too big to take home, or you might find them in an area that prohibits taking things home. In this case, you can just snap a pic then organize it within your digital collection. As they learn more and more about fossils, they can come back and expand on the information in their catalog; in time, they’ll have quite the chunk of scientific research under their belt! 

Dive Into Family History 

If your child has an interest in history, take some time to fill out your family tree together. Genealogy is a great hobby for kids because it gives them a way to learn about their personal history as well as a chance to contextualize what they’ve learned in school. For example, if your child is learning about the Second World War, you can bring it to life with a picture of Great-Grandma and her Victory Garden. 

You can often find family records going surprisingly far back. This gives you the chance to discuss immigration, settlement, and cultural practices as well. If your family history goes back to Ireland, you could dive into the legend of Stingy Jack and discover the origins of pumpkin carving. Work together to learn about your family’s history and how it fits into the wider world. 

Try Out Birdwatching 

Kids can learn a lot about the natural world through bird watching. This is a great way to enhance a trip to the park as well as find fun right in your own backyard. Invest in a child-friendly pair of binoculars they can use to get a closer look at feathered friends out in the wild. Help them to identify birds they find, and then together you can look up more about those kinds of birds. 

This is an especially fun way to learn about the world during migratory seasons. Spot a bird on its migration journey, then take some time to learn about where it’s coming from, and where it’s going. From there, you can learn more about geography, climate, and more! 

Ultimately, it’s all about figuring out what captures your child’s curiosity, and following that path to as much information as you can. Once your little one is the habit of learning through exploring, you can let them take the lead. Soon, they might just be the ones teaching you! 

Support your little one’s passions with books, tools, and specimens from Fossilicious!

Photo Credit: Pexels

 

Basilisaurus

A Few of my Favorite Natural History Museums

At the top of my list is the French National Museum’s Gallery of Paleontology or ( galerie de Paléontologie et d’Anatomie comparée)     This is the first museum I’ve ever explored where I got tired from looking before I was finished looking! There were so many fossils it would take pages to list them all.

The museum is housed in a three story building with the ground floor dedicated to comparative anatomy. It’s a brilliant arrangement because this floor lays the groundwork for understanding what you’ll see and read about on all the other floors. The Comparative Anatomy floor is filled with skeletons of all species of modern animals. I didn’t spend much time there because all of the fossils were on the upper two floors: second floor vertebrate fossils and third floor invertebrate fossils.

To touch on the highlights: TONS of infrequently displayed dinosaurs: Hadrosaur, Triceratops,  Carnotasaur, Pachycephalosaurus, a sauropod, and many skulls

Mammals: Whales, including Basilosaurus, Red Deer, gliptodonts, wooly rhino, Lucy (a replica I think), Saber tooth cat, and some elephant relatives,

Reptiles: Sarcosuchus, mosasaurs

Fish: ostracoderms, pterapsids, placoderms. Best part: more species were lined up in a display that laid out the evolution of fish from the earliest species through the modern.

There were birds as well; sadly my memory and my notebook have lost their names!

Then there are the invertebrates! In many museums, these creatures often fail to get much attention. Not so here! Trilobites, ammonites, gastropods, brachiopods, and more than 50 of each so one can examine details and variations galore! Plus crinoids, graptolites, and way to many more to get to in a single day’s visit.

While I’ve left out much of what is available, if you are ever in Paris (and you love fossils) make sure you get a multi-day pass and enjoy this museum over several days. It’s not far from Notre Dame and the subway system is easy to navigate, even if you don’t speak a lick of French!

Next on my list are two smaller and privately run museums that are mostly showcases of fossils for sale. These museums are where the big museums go when they need a t-rex or a dunkleostus or anything in between! They are both worth getting off the beaten path to see.

Dinosaur Resource Center- Woodland Park, CO
The Black Hills Institute- Hill City, SD

While these establishments lack the spit-and-polish of the large-scale and well-funded museums, they offer views of species less prominent in larger collections that center around the more famous fossils. The Dinosaur Resources Center was where we encountered our first Edmontosaurus before it was shipped off to a lareger, more popular home.

Finally, these last museums round out my top ten list, not necessarily in order of preference.

Utah Field House Of Natural History – Vernal, Ut
 
Dinosaur National Monument – Northwest Colorado
 
The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History – Washington, DC
 
The American Museum of Natural History – NYC, NY
 
The Houston Museum of Natural Science – Houston, TX
 
LaBrea Tar Pits – Los Angeles, CA
 
Denver Museum of Nature and Science – Denver, CO

Yeah, I’ve also got a bucket list! This group deserves mention, because they are on the Top Ten of many other fossil reviewers, but since I can’t recommend first-hand, I can only put them on my wish list!

The Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology – Alberta, Canada
 
The Chicago Field Museum – Chicago, IL
 
Harvard Museum of Natural History – Boston, MA
 
Peabody Museum of Natural History – New Haven, CT
 
Natural History Museum (Naturhistorisches Museum), Vienna – Vienna, Austria