I hate to break the news to Whyatt, Princess Presto, and the rest of the cast of SuperWhy but Dinosaur Train is our new PBS favorite. Ever since the debut on September 7, 2009 (yes, it is only 7 weeks old!), Little Miss Techie and Captain Computer ask to watch it on a daily basis.
Captain Computer belts out the fast paced lyrics at the start of every show and Little Miss Techie can tell me which dinosaurs are herbivores, omnivores, or carnivores and if they lived during the Jurassic or Cretaceous periods. She’s always reminding me that T-Rex is classified as a theropod because of its three toes while Captain Computer tells me that Ned the Brachiosaurus is a quadruped because he has 4 legs. They act as if I, as a parent, should really remember this because they do! Captain Computer even dreams about Dinosaur Train…Last night he was asleep and we swear that he mumbled, “I love you Buddy and Tiny!”
My kids’ love for Dinosaur Train warms my heart. As a mom and educator, I feel that I would be doing my kids a disservice to not let them watch it because it embraces and celebrates the fascination that preschoolers have with both dinosaurs and trains while encouraging basic scientific thinking and skills as they learn about natural science, natural history and paleontology from a mixed species family (Pteradons and Tyrannosaurus Rex). Phew! That’s a lot to cram into each 30 minute episode but my kids love every second and walk away with an incredible amount of knowledge and interest in the scientific process.
Over the weekend PBS invited us to The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History for a screening of a not-yet-released episode, a chance to meet Buddy, and a Q&A session with Dr. Scott Sampson, (aka Dr. Scott the Paleontologist) a real paleontologist who appears between the animated sections of the show to answer questions about the dinosaurs featured in the episodes. At the screening we got a sneak peek at two new stories- “King Cryolophosaurus” and “Dinosaurs in the Snow”- which was a real treat for the dino fans in our house.
In “King Cryolophosaurus”, Buddy meets a fellow theropod named King whose big swooping crest on the top of his head makes him look a little like Elvis. Much to the amusement of the adults in the audience, King also talks and sings like Elvis!
“Dinosaurs in the Snow” takes Buddy and his Pteranodon family to the North Pole. They discover that the air is much cooler and the skies stay dark in winter. Buddy, Tiny, Shiny, and Don get to experience snow for the first time and learn that Troodon (like the show’s Conductor) lived in a wide range of environments, including the cold, dark, snowy northern polar regions of the Earth and some even had feathers to keep them warm.
Little Miss Techie and Captain Computer enjoyed the episodes and were star struck with Dr. Scott the Paleontologist. They loved seeing him in real live and enjoyed knowing that Dr. Scott was sitting right in front of them during the episode. At one point during a Dr. Scott segment, Little Miss Techie leaned over and said, “Mom, Dr. Scott gets to watch himself on TV” and giggled, thinking that was quite funny.
After the screening, Dr. Scott opened up the floor to questions. Captain Computer shouted to me over the hum in the auditorium to tell me he had a question for Dr. Scott. Tripping over the other people in our aisle, we went to wait in like for a microphone among kids who towered over him. Fully expecting our 3 year old to freeze upon being presented the microphone, Captain Computer clutched it and said with no hesitation, “Hi my name is [Captain Computer] and I want to know how dinosaurs grow.” To which Dr. Scott replied that dinosaurs grow the same way we do, by eating things to make their bodies healthy and strong. Talk about a proud mama moment! I was bursting with pride at Captain Computer’s confidence!
If you want to know more about the amazing Dinosaur Train, here are some links:
- Meet the Characters in Dinosaur Train so you will be in the know and never confuse a Troodon with a Pterandon!
- Help your child develop hypotheses about the science of color just like Buddy does on the show with this super simple activity especially designed for ages 3-6.
- Get to know Dr. Scott Sampson, aka Dr. Scott the Paleontologist through his guest post on this month’s Ex?pert Q&A on PBS Parents.
- Read about the educational objectives for each episode on PBS Teachers’ Dinosaur Train: Episode Descriptions
- Learn more about dinosaurs with the Field Guide on the Dinosaur Train portion of the PBSKids.org site which allows them to learn the classification and time period during which it lived, see an x-ray, compare its size to a human, learn what it ate, and hear other fun facts.
- Make your own Buddy costume in time for Halloween so your T-Rex can hunt for candy in either the no-sew or sewn version.
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Original post by Tech Savvy Mama