Daisy’s Days Youtube channel visited and reviewed our Dino Disco Adventure Challenge interactive children’s event that we held in Manchester in April 2018. See her review of the event here….
Sometimes the craze happens as young as two or three, when an articulate tot manages to pronounce the word “tyrannosaurus” before he can wrap his mouth around “please” or “thank you.” Often it happens a bit later when kids are just starting to come to grips with scientific concepts and can differentiate the appearance and behaviour of dinosaurs from the wildlife they see at the zoo.
It’s such a familiar craze that I think a lot of us forget how weird it is that children even like dinosaurs in the first place!
So why, exactly, do kids love dinosaurs so much?
1./ THEY ARE BIG….AND REAL!!
Dinosaurs are the ultimate child fantasy. They’re like dragons, but real. OK. The visual splendour of a towering T-Rex cannot be disputed! And, to a tiny tot, the sheer size of them makes them the ultimate untamed entities, which only makes a kid want to identify with them more. And when you are told that your favourite toy dinosaur was actually the same size as three double deck buses, it makes it so real and yet so enormous to a young mind!
Also, when playing with dinosaur toys or reading Dinosaur books together, the sheer size of these beasts, tamed and placed into a book, gives the child reader power over these monsters which is incredibly intoxicating! Suddenly the kid is the one who can determine whether the dinosaur stays on the shelf or comes down to play. For someone small, who is constantly at the mercy of the adults around them, dinosaurs (which belong only to children and almost never to grown-ups) provide the ultimate in escapism.
2./ THEY ARE SCARY….BUT EXTINCT
As we’ve already indentified Dinosaurs are generally big (ok not all species but the ones that kids like best are!) which makes them scary. However they are also dead; which makes them very safe! So ironically they’re huge and fiercesome – and completely not a danger to the child.
The trick is to be scared just enough, but not too much. Imagination is what gives them life and the child is in charge of that.
The average Dinosaur crazed kid may have only a vague idea when dinosaurs went extinct, but she knows, for a fact, that they’re no longer around. A full-grown Tyrannosaurus Rex, no matter how huge and hungry, is thus rendered completely harmless, since there’s no chance of accidentally running into one during a nature walk!
3./ YOU DON’T ARGUE WITH A DINOSAUR
Dinosaurs represent, in kids’ minds, the ultimate kid principle: when they want something, they go out and get it, and nothing had better stand in their way!
It’s much easier for a parent to deal with a kid pretending to be a fierce Brontosaurus as they can be allowed to be hyperactive, let off steam and have an element of disobedience within the world of make believe play. And it’s much easier for us to parents to deal with a pretend dinosaur than a human kids having full blown toddler tantrum. So to re-frame a tantrum as a pesky, hyperactive Dinosaur could save many a grey hair!!
Books like Dinosaur vs. Bedtime exploit this dynamic perfectly; by the last page, the dress-up dinosaur has finally settled down for a night’s sleep, after winning a series of dramatic battles against a playground slide, a bowl of spaghetti, and talking grown-ups.
4./ THEY HAVE NAMES THAT ARE LIKE ANOTHER LANGUAGE…BUT MOSTLY END WITH -AURUS!!
Dinosaurs in reality are mere bones in museums with long Latin names and yet, whilst giving most 4 year olds a list of Latin verbs would result in a look blanker than a landscape being approached by a T-Rex, but give the same 4 year old a list of Latin dinosaur names and he can very likely not only pronounce each one but tell you how many metres long it is!
When palaeontologists of time gone by of seriously engaged in bone wars for fossils, one has to seriously doubt that they had any inkling that the fruits of their labours would lead to dino-obsessed three-year-olds for generations to come!
5./ THEY ARE CRAZY LOOKING!
They are incredibly crazy looking, and new ones are discovered all the time. Their very image and size inspire awe. Any child who is curious and observant can dream up their own ideas about what these extinct creatures looked like and how they may have acted.
6./ THERE IS SOME SCIENCE AND SOME REALITY WITH THEM
In contrast to most magical creatures that we read about in books and see on TV and in films with our kids, Dinosaurs actually existed. In this way Children can see how science often gives us a world even more spectacular and amazing than our imagination can ever create.
The love of dinosaurs, turns these children if only for a moment, into scientists. For great numbers of children, Dinosaurs introduce them to non-fiction books. A child might go from the very clever “Uneversaurus” by Aidan Potts to other topics that interest them. Maybe they’ll start to delve into sharks or knights or almanacs of facts. However they go about it, suddenly non-fiction is feeding their interests like never before.
7./ IT’S NEVER ENDING
There’s so much information; so many species, periods of time, fossils, bones; and it is all so exciting and inspires imagination through Science!
And then, like all childhood interests, Dinos make way for other toys. Kids are expected to grow out of them, just like they’re supposed to grow out of LEGO or princesses or fairy wings. Dinosaurs are often seen as a babyish craze as kids move on to other interests.
But the great thing with Dinos is that sometimes, when they think no one’s looking, they come back. They’ll play with the dino toys they handed down to little brothers and sisters. They’ll tear through Dinosaur! by Peter Sis and smother their giggles. They’ll surreptitiously read I’m Bad by Kate McMullen to their younger siblings and pretend that they’re doing it out of the goodness of their golden glorious hearts. They’d sooner die than confess that maybe, sometimes, dinosaurs can be pretty cool. Especially the ones with the fangs and the claws and the blood!
GREAT OF OUR FAVOURITE DINO BOOKS
There are some great books that Capture all that kids love about Dinosaurs perfectly…..
Bob Shea’s Dinosaur Vs. Bedtime
Dinosaur Roar by Paul Stickland
Dinosaurs by Simms Taback.
Martin Wadell’s The Super Hungry Dinosaur
Dinotrux by Chris Gall.
Jane Yolen’s How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?
Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs by Mo Willems.
And no childhood is complete without the marvellous Harry and his Dinosaurs!
And lastly Sid Hoff’s wonderful Danny and the Dinosaur takes you practically into adulthood.
If your Dino Crazed little person wants to come and meet Gggreggg the Disco Dancing Dancing then bring them to The Dino Disco Adventure Challenge this Easter in Manchester ….it’s roaring good fun!!
There are many complexities that come with parenthood – and of the many important decisions that get suddenly thrust on us with little or no experience, is the children’s birthday party!
Suddenly as you child turns 4 you realise the importance of them having a magical and memorable birthday party with their friends that celebrates this important milestone – whilst at the same time not going crazy with the organisation of such an event yourself!
So your choices generally consist of a play centre or similar event venue where generally you are shepherded in and out factory style – yes low maintenance for parents and yes fun for kids to a point, but there is not much in terms of creativity, inspiration or a unique experience for your child and their friends (and parents!)
There are swimming birthday parties, cinema trips, sleepovers or you can hire your own entertainer of themed children’s birthday party and this last option will generally mean you get a more individual and unique experience for your child. If you choose a good entertainment company then they will deliver a personalised party for your child and their friends.
There is always the concern that as a parent you will have much more work doing this option – hiring the venue, organising the timings, the food, the party bags. Some parents love doing this but a lot of parents are totally daunted by this prospects. Many entertainers now will offer full party packages coming to a venue of your choice (or will even have partnerships with venues so can help you organise that)
Whether you are using experts to provide the detail or you are wanting to hire the entertainment and provide the rest yourself, here are our 5 tips for the best children’s parties:
1/ Timetable – carefully plan the party timetable, right through from arrival, to each activity; the amount of time the entertainment takes, the food, the cake, the piñata and any other activities that are taking place. One mistake that often happens is that the entertainment happens, followed by the food and then there is a lull following the food before the children are picked up by parents – this is a recipe for mayhem! A far better way is to have 45 – 60 minutes of entertainment, followed by a calm down activity / game for 5 minutes. Then have food. Following the food return to your entertainment for a final 15 minutes to avoid this unstructured chaos. It means children will be engaged right to the end and when parents arrive to pick up they will be faced by a scene of happy, engaged children rather than crazy mayhem!
2/ Entertainment – ensure the entertainment is age appropriate. I was recently at a children’s party with a group of 7 year olds and the entertainer booked to deliver a music session clearly was more used to delivering to much younger children. The children quickly disengaged and the whole thing was rather chaotic and unsuccessful!
Talk to potential entertainment providers and ask for their advice and experience. The best entertainment options will be able to talk to you with confidence and experience because they are delivering kids entertainment successfully and have happy customers to prove it! And judge how happy and helpful they are when in contact with you. I would suggest the jollier your connection points, the more likely they will deliver joy to your children!
3/ Don’t always rely on the big brands! Just because ‘Frozen’ or ‘Star wars’ is everywhere you look in children’s entertainment doesn’t necessarily mean the children want yet another ‘Frozen’ party. Yes they might say they love it but that is only because they are being exposed to very little out there! If they are given the option to experience some different characters, stories and entertainment options then it will not only widen their own experiences and taste but be far more unique for their friends too! As my own little girl said recently “I am so bored of Frozen!”
4/ Remember why you are holding a party – not to impress other parents, or ‘keep up with the Jones’ but to be special for your birthday child, so keep in perspective that they don’t notice detail, expense or gold tipped candles! All they notice is whether they are laughing, having fun, have their friends around them and everyone is happy. And that is created with the right people, the right atmosphere and the right organization.
5/ Create party bags that have something for keeps. Party bags have become one of those elements of a party that parents do because it’s the ‘done thing’ but how many of them actually make it further than the kitchen bin as soon as they are home? Rather than waste money on tat, include something thoughtful or with longevity for your children’s friends. Our party bags include a book that the children love and when they read it it reminds them of this party experience. It stands out and is more worthwhile as a take home gift, making it more memorable!
To find out more about our parties and entertainment options contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or call Helen on 07870 796741.
Books are brilliant and getting children to enjoy books from an early age is undoubtedly an important part of their development. But we don’t have to only condition our children to recognise stories in books…..
They are all around us, in every part of life – from obvious mediums such as TV, film, theatre and events to the less obvious – and these are often where the most interesting stories can be found and learnt from. Take a 90-year old grandmother – the stories she has about her life and experiences are something that a child can feast on as they are so rich in detail and experience. And what about stories of amazing achievements – ordinary people who have achieved extraordinary feats; explorers, scientists, artists and sports people.
One of my current favourite collection of stories is here:
Stories are everywhere….
But these are examples of stories that are actually all around us….from the man in the paper shop to the lady delivering flowers and the teacher at school. Everyone has a story and if you can encourage your children to be interested in the people and world around them they will soak up great stories like this throughout their day to day and learn about experiences that can only benefit their social, educational and emotional development.
Encouraging engagement in People….
A great skill to encourage children to engage in the world around them and discover the stories that will fascinate and inspire them is the skill of the question. Greatly under- estimated, this is a skill that if learnt and incorporated by a child at an early age they will use to discover what so many others in the world miss!
Questions are Amazing…..
We’ve all experienced the curious toddler who asks a hundred questions or been frustrated by the endless questioning about the works of a washing machine by a 4-year old when we’ve been trying to do the laundry, but actually encouraging this love of questioning can be one of the greatest things you can do to encourage an open and creative mind as they get older. As we grow up the natural way is to stop questioning, accept life as it is and get stuck in our thoughts, opinions and experiences that we know. If we have been encouraged from a young age to constantly ask questions and be curious then we will be more open to opportunities, people and experiences that will enhance our lives. And this is surely one of the most valuable teachings we can give our children. And something we should remember ourselves from time to time!!!
So encourage their questions, open their minds, get them to look around them, look into peoples eyes and hearts and ask them about how they feel and what they know – their learning will be so much richer and more fruitful that way. And to do this involves getting their head looking up at the world rather down at their device! Real people’s stories are much more engaging than technological ones!
Make your own stories…..
And try making up your own stories – you’d be surprised where your little ones imagination takes you – the next time you point out a plane, a digger or a tractor, ask your child where you think it is going, has been or what the person driving it is thinking. Tell them what you think and then ask them to join in and create the story themselves. You will be setting them up for a life that is rich with stories and experiences!
The amount of time that children are actually allows to be carefree children seems to have reduced in recent years; they have more worries, stresses and outside influences much earlier in their lives. The exposure to media, celebrities and news means that children are more aware of the grim realities of the modern world. Which is why it is even more important nowadays for children to be exposed to magical, imaginative worlds, places, stories and characters. Much more than computer games characters and more than the world and characters of Disney which tends to just funnel them into a large marketing machine; but really imaginative, adventurous and fun worlds, characters and stories.
Exploring new, imaginative worlds allows children to open their minds and experience creativity, problem solving and challenge themselves. The introduction of good and evil characters and storylines also means that children can explore the relationship between good and evil and consider different values, actions and consequences within a completely different world to the one they are used to. This safe, detached exposure to these themes means their inexperienced brains can make more sense of them without feeling too traumatised or scared by the effect on their own lives and people around them. As much as it is important to teach our children to be streetwise, safe and aware I believe that age needs to be a huge consideration here and it is better to introduce them to some potentially upsetting themes within the context of a magical world than the real world.
And much more than this, magical worlds expand the imagination! It sounds obvious, but if all you are exposed to as a kid is what is around you how do you learn to imagine, to dream and to discover? Exposing kids to a range of different worlds through lots of different mediums including books, films, theatre, live events, play and nature has such a long lasting impact on their ability to imagine, be creative and be innovative, it is an essential foundation of early years.
And I think it’s more than them passively watching a story unfold in another world but involving them that has the real power. Do you remember the books where you could choose to make a decision about which path to take in the story and turn to a particular page depending on your choice? These are great for children as they enable them to consider options, make decisions and then experience the consequences! It’s also why interactive workshops, creative activities and encouraging reading and writing encourages much more than passive consumption of other peoples ideas, but the creation of own ideas!
We live in a world where children are encouraged to consume other people’s ideas every day; but if they can create their own ideas they will have the world at their feet; and one of the best ways to encourage this from an early age is through the exploration of other worlds and imaginative ideas that can teach, influence and inspire; making creative and imaginative thinking second nature!
What exciting magical worlds have your children discovered? What are their favourites and what are yours? Leave a comment below and tell us, we’d love to know…….