How evolved are you? New book for kids tells all!

Author
Paul Banas

200909251213.jpg The Giant Timeline is a new book out by a new publisher, Charlie’s Playhouse, which makes books and toys to teach kids about evolution and natural selection. The Giant Timeline is an 18 foot long unfolding book that takes the reader through the past 600 million years of history of life on this planet. The book is big, big, big, like its subject matter, but makes the story compelling to kids 4+ with colorful illustrations, comic book-like thought bubbles from the funny creatures, and lots and lots of strange looking monsters who have the distinction of being our ancestors.

Dads will find a lot to love about this book. It’s a perfect length for a before bedtime read, but also fills in tons of knowledge gaps for the non-scientists among us who haven’t studied the evolution since high school (where my teacher scoffed at it by the way). My son and I both read the book together and enjoyed the colorful illustrations. The book also contains page after page of explanatory material which provides background information and even games for the deeper involvement in the timeline, with ideas for kids, parents, and teachers. I’ve never seen such an in-depth study guide in a book of this type.

The Giant Timeline has taken the coveted “favorite book” of my five year old son. He loves is so much that he immediately took it to school to show his kindergarten friends.

The publisher of the book, mom and scientist Kate Miller, admits that evolution can be controversial. Charlie’s Playhouse, however, believes that the majority of Americans find the study of evolution consistent with their own beliefs and that the issue if over-politicized. “Why should this majority be deprived of educational fun stuff for their kids because the few who politicize the issue. It’s basic cultural literacy.” To this end, Charlie’s Playhouse has teamed up with The Clery Letter Project which gathers signatures from clergy affirming their belief that evolutionary study is consistent with their religious beliefs.

Find this book and other toys of an evolutionary nature at Charlie’sPlayhouse.com.

One last thing, while the book smells a bit like plastic out of its packaging, it’s actually made out of a earth-friendly synthetic paper called Polylith.

Popularity: 3%

Best building toy yet….

Author
Paul Banas

This will surprise you, but Citiblocs are just a bunch of pine blocks, all cut in 1 X 4.5 X 1/4 inch rectangles. But they are perfect for creative play for little hands, and dads. When I opened the box, I was surprised not to find extra pieces like triangles and rounded edges.
Citiblocs has none of that. They are just simple blocks.

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But my son (5) loved them. He built a house right away and explained all the crazy features it had. Unlike Legos, he wasn’t locked into a rectangular or almost literal representation of something, so he felt more free to let things hang out and let his imagination take over. While my classic design at steps that lined up perfectly and involved some fine engineering to support an overhanging porch, his was more figurative.

I was a bit dismayed when he dissembled my colonnaded entryway to our house, but I overcame my frustration to let him just play the way he wants to play. The only solution though for next time is to buy another set so he can build his dream house and I can build mine.

Set of 100 for 27.50 at Amazon. Larger and smaller kits available as well.

Popularity: 3%

Up to dad to teach AMERICAN Values to kids

Author
Paul Banas

The end of summer is in view, but there’s still time to pack in some more outdoor activity while we have light, warmth, and maybe a little extra time. My kids are 5 and 9, and I’m suddenly feeling panic that neither of them has a baseball glove, and neither can throw a football. Like a lot of elementary schools, we’re big on soccer, but I guess it’s up to dad to make the kids AMERICANS!

Baseball mitts are a big investment these days, so after my sticker shock, I’m researching alternate shopping choices like Craigslist. We already have a couple of footballs, but tossing a regulation-size pigskin to a five year old is like pelting him with a watermelon. He can’t catch it and he certainly can’t throw it.

Someone sent me a one of those Nerf Vortex footballs. It’s a football with an arrow out the back. This one is a “pocket” version, so a lot lot smaller. The second throw my son made was a perfect spiral over ten feet in distance. I said, “What an arm!” and meant it, though I suppose there’s a little engineering behind the ball itself.

Meanwhile, I still have to find a glove for my little girl (age 9). There’s still an opening for the “first woman in the Majors” category and we’re going to find out if she’s got the arm to fill it.

Popularity: 2%

Finally, a video microscope for the rest of us – the Eyeclops Bionic Eye SE

Author
Paul Banas

The Eyeclops Bionic Eye SE is out at $40, so if you’ve been waiting for an affordable version of the video microscope for yourself, or another budding scientist in the house, now you can jump in. This is a super cool device that allows you to point a lens at anything within reach and see images at 200x power.

This might be billed as a toy, but it’s a pretty powerful device for looking at anything right up close, including a coin, your finger, or a strand of hair. And, the images really bring that 42″ TV to life.

Popularity: 3%

ZipBin mini bin/play surface

Author
Paul Banas

My son (not pictured here) loves his ZipBin Mini Speedway from Neat Oh . And so do we. These very affordable storage bin toys are a good find for little kids who collect lots of little items like dolls, cars, or farm animals. The carrying case unfolds completely to reveal a play scene. And, the Zip Bin comes with 2 cars (or other item) so the child feels like he’s getting a toy, and not just a storage bin. $9.99 and up on Amazon.

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Popularity: 3%

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