Proverbs 22:6 – Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Target Vocabulary: ages, alternative, ancestor, ancient, animals, archaeology, dinosaur, Earth, evolution, extinct, fossil, geology, life, new, old, Pangea, prehistoric, prehistory, time period, etc.
Old vs. New ~ discuss the difference between the terms old and new to build a base for expanding the concept of time. Old referring to things that happened long ago and new to things that are more recent. Use a timeline to provide visual reference of time. You can build a math element by discussing years in terms of one year, 10 years, 100 years, 1,000 years, 1 million years and 1 billion years.
What is prehistory? ~ The term prehistory refers to the time or history before written records. Specifically, this term is generally used when discussing themes related to the time before mankind existed on Earth. In other words, the history before us/man, which generally refers to things that occurred before the last Ice Age.
Ancient ~ Define the term ancient and provide examples of how we use it: ancient times, ancient animals, ancient civilizations, etc. You can expand the lesson by offering an overview of specific ancient civilizations, such as cave people.
Prehistoric Animals ~ Discuss well-known prehistoric animals, such as dinosaurs, flying reptiles, mammoths and mastodons, saber-tooth cats, giant creatures (ie, sloth), etc. You can expand the lesson to discuss how some animals/species are now extinct while others have evolved/changed/adapted since prehistoric time. For instance, some turtles, snakes, lizards, bugs, sharks, etc. have been around since prehistoric time and are still alive today.
Time Periods/Ages ~ Discuss how geological time (historical timeline) is categorized in periods/ages/eras to group or classify chunks of time and the things that occurred within each one. A great example would be to use the three periods within the Age of the Dinosaurs: Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous.
Pangaea ~ Discuss the Pangaea Theory of how the seven continents we presently have on Earth began as one super continent (pangaea) and broke up over time. This is a great visual reference that shows what the theory suggests happened. You can expand the lesson by discussing any of these themes:
Evolution ~ Discuss how life on Earth is said to have developed/evolved/changed over time. You can use this interactive prehistoric timeline from National Geographic as reference to build lesson themes relating to animal classifications, natural habitats or general geological timeline in chronological. As a disclaimer, I use this timeline to show an overview of what is generally accepted and presented as a point of reference for educational purposes. I do not necessarily adopt its entirety as fact. I approach this theme by exploring what is generally regarded and presented, while encouraging my son to develop his own personal views based on thoughtful study and research.
Ancestors ~ Discuss how many animals alive today came from an ancestor species. You can expand the lesson by asking the child/student to discuss who their ancestors are (within their specific family) and how far their family tree goes.
Alternative Views ~ Define the term alternative. Offer some alternative views of related themes to help the child gain a fuller understanding of different theories. This is a great critical thinking tool, as well as a good building block for creative thinking. Alternative views are generally categorized under science fiction but much research has been done to offer compelling evidence in support of exploring alternative theories. The fact is we don’t know everything about everything; science (like other themes in life) is built on theories and ideas that have been explored and studied. We live in a time of great awareness and advancement with new technologies, discoveries and theories changing our previously established standards. Alternative views give us the opportunity to think big, which is comparative to the size of the universe we live in. 🙂
Schedule a field trip to a museum of natural history to expand learning opportunities outside the classroom. Many offer hands-on activities and tours where kids can study fossils and participate in or experience interactive modules. If possible, try to find out what type of prehistoric life has been found in your regional area to give kids a sense of the kinds of animals that existed there. Our visit to a museum of natural history was a great learning experience!