Posts Tagged ‘dinosaurs’

I grew up with one of my older brothers, Richard, being really into dinosaurs. When we were little, he used to collect those little plastic dinosaurs, the ones that were about three to five inches. He taught us the names of each one and some basic facts like whether they were carnivores, omnivores, or herbivores. He used to set them all up and make them fight each other!

Decades later, when I became a mom and my son was around seven, he really got into dinosaurs. I already knew some of the facts about them and I am one of those moms that tries to facilitate when her little ones are interested in so I got him the plastic dinosaurs like my brother had so long before, except that my brother’s were bright primary colors and my sons were neutral colors and supposed to be more real! As he got into dinosaurs, we got books and videos and, because we lived in southern California, we were less than a half hour from the La Brea Tar Pits where we could go and learn about dinosaurs. If you don’t know about the La Brea Tar Pits, it’s in the middle of busy Los Angeles, right on Wilshire Boulevard in the part that was called the Miracle Mile, with businesses and shopping all around them. The tar pits were neat because you could walk up and watch the tar bubbling up and look at the replica woolly mammoths that were stuck in the tar. It was really called the Page Museum of Natural History, but I think it may have changed names. They had a lot more than dinosaurs in there. My kids used to love to go see the woolly mammoth. They had a skeleton of a woolly mammoth that was really breath taking. At that time, admission was free. I just checked and kid admission is seventeen dollars! Wow. I would have gone broke if I had to pay seventeen dollars for each of my kids each time we went to see the tar pits!

A few weeks ago, while discussing what he wanted to study next, Anderson said he wanted to learn about fossils and dinosaurs. He’s that age. He just turned eight and is in second grade so the timing is just right. I decided to plan a unit on dinosaurs that we could do during the summer. However, I did go online to see if we could go see some fossils somewhere near. Well, the University of Oregon has an excellent exhibit but they are in Eugene which is about ninety minutes from here so it’s not as easily doable as I would like. There is also a small exhibit at Portland State but I read that it is really just a display in the hallway of the offices at the college and not meant for the public to go see, especially not kids. Then I saw that the local library had a presentation scheduled for March where an archaeologist from U of O would come with fossils and bones and skeletons of dinosaurs and other extinct mammals. Yes!

Well, the presentation was on Tuesday and I actually remembered. He hadn’t been feeling well but he wanted to go so we went and it was great! It was very low key and not well attended but that made it nicer for the ones that did attend because there was more hands on time and they could ask all the questions they wanted. I was actually impressed with Anderson. I often wonder about the homeschooling and how it will effect him with interacting with others who go to regular school. He did great. He raised his hands to answer questions and ask them and he was right on target with the comments and questions. Yay!

We learned about the dire wolf and the saber tooth cat and the sloth. The lady brought a box of fossils with her that the kids got to hold and manipulate. Apparently, they were found at Fossil Lake quite some time ago but the person that collected them took them home and put them in his yard then year later, he brought them to the university and turned them in for their use. Because they had been removed from the area so long ago and there was no documentation, the university could not put them on display so they use them for education purposes and the go out to schools and libraries so that kids can see them and touch them and hold them. Neat!

Anderson’s interest in fossils and dinosaurs made me smile and think of the other little boys in my life that have had the interest and the ones that will have it soon. I figure Spencer will get there in another couple of years then Mati a couple of years after that. I have lots of time to get my dinosaur and fossil files together!

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Jurassic Park

Do you remember the first time you saw it?  Or are you one of those of the newer generation that has never seen it?  Last Sunday, there was nothing on TV.  I don’t watch a lot of TV.  Instead, I read a lot but my eyes were really tired that day.  I’m not a football fan so there wasn’t a lot on.  In our local TV market, there are not a lot of choices on Sunday and I don’t have cable TV.  I stumbled upon Jurassic Park just as it was about to start.  I hadn’t seen it in a couple of years so I let it play and watched and the memories came back.

The first movie was released during the summer of 1993.  My son was 11.  He loved dinosaurs since he was about 2 so when we heard about the movie being released, he looked forward to it with great anticipation.  He read everything he could find about the movie.  At the time, we lived in southern California,  in a neighborhood very close to the movie studios and people associated with the film industry.  Some of his school mates had parents in the film industry so there was a lot of information and a lot of hype at school, not just on TV and in the newspapers.  I knew he would want to see it as soon as it was released.

A group of us moms got together and bought tickets to a showing on the first day it opened and together we each took our kids to the movie.  The group of us, about fifteen, sat together and I remember that first moment when a dinosaur appeared on the big screen, walking out in the open in the light of day.  There was a loud and unified “awwwwww” as everyone in the theater sat in amazement, totally mesmerized.  And although the Jurassic Park adventure in the movie didn’t turn out so well, we all loved the movie.  My son asked to go see it over and over again and I didn’t mind taking him.  We went with his friends.  We went with his sisters.  We went by ourselves, just the two of us.  I think we must have seen the movie about six or seven times that summer and he may have seen it a few more times with friends and perhaps with his dad.  From the movie, Tony decided to read the book and soon, he had picked up and read every Michael Crichton novel to date.  His love and knowledge of dinosaurs continues to this day.

Every time I see the movie on TV, I wish I could see it on the big screen again.    There is nothing like seeing those beautiful, extinct creatures on the big screen.  As I watch, I can imagine that I am really seeing ancient history alive before my eyes.

Sometimes there is good to be said about small, local TV markets that give us only a very few choices.

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