Se7en Study Really Ancient Times with Mary Anning and Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan.

As our school year is drawing to an end, it is definitely time to start posting some of the resources that we have been using for school. A lot of our schooling depends on reading books, loads of them… so I have some great books on our coffee table right now that are all ready for reviewing and they are going to appear on the blog over the next few weeks. I thought I would begin historically, with a study of Ancient times… a real dive into fossils, dinosaurs and digging things up and exploring. All things that curious kids love learning about.

Mary Anning’s Grewsome Beasts

Written by Deshan Tennekoon

Illustrated by Linki Brand

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The first book is an illustrated biography of Mary Anning, who was a palaeontologist, long before women were “allowed” to be scientists. I have fond childhood memories of heading out into the Karoo to look for fossils with my dad and this book, that reads like a story brought it all back. It is a wonderful, wonderful book… it looks like a children’s picture book and it is, but it is so, so much more. Definitely one of our best books of the year!!!
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It is packed with incredible illustrations and really intriguing facts… even if you know a lot about Mary Anning already, you will discover loads more about her in this one. Not only facts about her, but about her discoveries as well…
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It has several short chapters, about three pages each, so we read a chapter a day around the table for school, while the story is her biography do not for a moment think it is an old fashioned fuddy-duddy kind of a book, it is a fun read, and sometimes really funny. It is perfect for reading to kids and chatting about the history of the day at the same time, that being said – it is extremely picture rich, each page is beautifully designed and the chapters are short, which means that it is extremely readable for the young enthusiast.
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Mary Anning grew up in Lyme Regis so we went looking online to see if there was a particular museum there… and there is. The Lyme Regis museum has walks you can go on… now that would be dreamy. But their website also has a fantastic “Make and Do Page,” with amazing and doable crafts. If you have a youngster keen on prehistoric life then don’t stop… run to the Lyme Regis Museum website. You can download the directions or watch videos… how to make an ammonite, a plesiosaur, a dimorphodon, an ichthyosaur and many more.
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Se7en Fossil Activities to Do With Kids…

  1. On our long list of places still to visit is the West Coast Fossil Park. They also have printables and resources to look at on their site before you visit.
  2. Visit your local Natural History Museum will definitely have fossils and dinosaurs dioramas to look at.
  3. Cool Websites for exploring Prehistoric Life with the BBC has great quizzes and games for the young fact lover
  4. and Fossils for Kids has everything and links to everything you would ever need.

  5. If you want to know more about Mary Anning, then again the BBC has a great link, with incredible photos relating to her work and the museum itself, in Lyme Regis.
  6. You can look for facts about any dinosaur ever on the NHS Dino Directory. Not to mention loads and loads of online activities for kids and families on the Natural History Museum Site.
  7. The Smithsonian Museum has loads of online goodies, but this video on scientific illustrations and drawing fossils is a treat.
  8. We absolutley love the Homeschool History Podcast, it is the junior version of You’re Dead to Me (also excellent), and it has 15 minutes of amazing facts about a famous person… of course there is a Mary Anning Episode. If you do enjoy dinosaurs, there is six episode audible original called a Grown Up Guide to Dinosaurs, if you are an audible member, go and take a look for it.


Dinosaurs of Africa

Written by Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan

Illustrated by Luis V.Rey

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I met Anusuya Chinsamy-Turanmany years ago, when I was on the founding committee of SA-WISE, the Association of South African Women in Science and Education, and she was so energetic and enthusiastic, when I saw she was bringing out a book for children about dinosaurs, I had to get my hands on it. The book is an exciting and colourful read and absolutely packed with facts for your young wannabe palaeontologist.. if you have a child who is fascinated, or even just mildly curious about dinosaurs then this is the book to answer all their questions and provide answers to the questions they didn’t even know they had.
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The book begins with an introduction to discovering fossils, and how palaeontologists go about the work of discovering, researching and presenting their knowledge. The book then explores several different families of dinosaurs, chapter by chapter. I love the African context of this book and each dinosaur that is presented as an example, has a map to show where in Africa it was discovered, as well as a quick fact box. There is a lovely mix of clear photographs, and incredible illustrations by the artist Luis V.Rey, who has done his research… not only are his dinosaurs as accurate as the science allows, but the background is carefully researched. The balance between bright and bright illustrations and blocks of interesting facts is perfect… for the curious kid and the child who has an assignment to hand in. I found myself drawn to the “unsolved” boxes of information… for all that we can determine from the fossil record there is a lot that remains a mystery.
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The final chapter includes fun activities to do with your kids, how to make a plaster of paris fossil, and creating a dinosaur from clay, a couple of experiments and a dinosaur quiz. You will find this book on the shelves in the kids’ non-fiction section of the book store. But to be honest it is packed with well presented facts for adults too.

Amazon Affiliate Links for Books Mentioned in This Post.

These books were given to us for review purposes by Penguin Random House South Africa and Struik Nature. This is not a sponsored post and opinions expressed are entirely our own.