The best site to go to for information and events that may be occurring in your area is the official Darwin Day Website. Unfortunately there have not been any family friendly events in my area since I first discovered Darwin Day. If you can't find anything in your area, I'll list some ideas below on how to create your own celebration.
I first learned about Darwin Day through Agnostic Mom. She is a former Mormon turned atheist who lives in Arizona. She has a fantastic blog although she is not as active on it now as she was a couple of years ago. Here is a link to an article on how she and her family celebrate Darwin Day for the entire week of Darwin's birthday. It's a great article and offers some good ideas.
When we first started celebrating Darwin Day, I discovered it a little too late to have some books on hand for my kids. I looked at all of our local bookstores and found NOTHING...so I ended up getting them on Amazon. Here are a few of my favorites:
The Tree of Life: The Wonders of Evolution
Our Family Tree: An Evolution Story
Mammals who Morph
Life on Earth: The Story of Evolution
Darwin and Evolution for Kids: His Life and Ideas with 21 Activities
The above book has some great activities and I will be using it quite a bit to plan our Darwin Day celebration. It should also be noted that these books can be read by adults who are unfamiliar with the actual theory of evolution as well as children. The explanations are a good start for people who are interested in learning about the theory.
Of course, everyone should also read The Origin of the Species at some point in their lives. It is nice because although it is explaining a scientific theory, it can be read by anybody.
Some websites to look at for information on evolution include:
Talk Origins There is so much information available at this website and it offers a section on common misconceptions about evolution. It is surprising how many people are misinformed and this website is a great tool for people to learn about evolution and to find answers to common questions.
Understanding Evolution This site was created by the University of California Berkeley and offers some great information about evolution. It is very easy to navigate and offers teaching tools for many different age groups. It also offers an option to sign up for e-mail updates about current news that relates to evolution.
I'll post some old blog posts from my myspace below that discuss some of our first Darwin Day celebrations with our kids. This year, I had hoped that we could take a weekend trip to Seattle and visit the Pacific Science Center. They currently have the exhibit Lucy's Legacy through March 8. Wouldn't that be a GREAT way to celebrate Darwin Day??? Unfortunately, it doesn't look like it is going to work out for us to go.
January 31, 2007
Last year was our first year to celebrate Darwin Day. I didn't receive the books I ordered in time for Darwin Day, so we looked up some information on the internet and I told my kids a very simplified version of what evolution is.
On Darwin Day, I planned a nature hike with my kids. It is a little cold in Spokane for this, but we bundled up :) Our goal was simply to observe nature. We talked about the fact that Darwin loved to observe nature and that is why he was able to discover clues that led him to his theory of evolution.
We had ordered "The Tree of Life" and "Our Family Tree" last year, but they didn't arrive until a few days after Darwin Day. As we read them, I encouraged the kids to think of questions they had. So, when they began coming up with questions, we would research answers on the internet. Lastly, we noticed that our library did not have a book about evolution for children. So, as part of our celebration, we ordered an extra copy of "Our Family Tree" and donated it to our local library. This year we'll have to go and see if it's still there :)
I don't have any specific plans yet for this year's celebration, but I did order a couple of new books to help with this years Darwin Day. So, we have now added "Life on Earth" and "Darwin & Evolution for Kids". They're both great and I've found quite a few fun activities in "Darwin & Evolution for Kids." I'll have to post another blog once I get a plan together for our little family celebration :)
February 15, 2007
We ended up having a great Darwin Day celebration with our kids! I combined some ideas that I got from Agnostic Mom with some ideas of my own.
Agnostic Mom celebrates over a 7 day period. I wanted to extend the celebration beyond one day, but I thought 7 days might be a bit much for my kids. So, we decided to have a 3 day celebration. Instead of discussing one animal group each night, we combined some animal groups.
We were supposed to start celebrating on Saturday Feb 10, but other things came about and we had to postpone. So, we started our activities on Sunday and ended them on Tuesday. Our first activity was to make our own family tree. We talked about everybody as we placed them on the family tree and noticed differences and similarities between ourselves and our family members. We decided that it would be silly if everyone was the same and it's nice to have differences. That night we had crab and salmon. These represented some of the first things to evolve on the Tree of Life.
The next day, we had chicken for dinner with a side dish of dinosaur Ritz crackers and some mint green cookies for dessert. This night was our night for reptiles and birds. Our activity after dinner brought about much excitement! and I had found a book about Triceratops that included information about how paleontologists study bones. It came with a little dig site. So, we all worked together to dig out our Triceratops' bones and then we pieced it together. We took this opportunity to discuss how Darwin came to the conclusion that life evolved and how scientists need evidence to back up their claims.
For story time that night, we read the book, The Tree of Life by Ellen Jackson. This was our best night of the celebration because we could tell that it was really starting to make sense to our son. He had so many questions and ideas while we read the story...he was exhilarated.
On our final night, we had pot roast for dinner with banana cream pie for dessert. I showed the kids a series of pictures in my Biology book that displayed evolution occurring in a population of insects. As we looked at each picture, we tried to guess which population of insects would survive and which would struggle. For our final activity, we made a Tree of Life. I had printed out pictures from each of the groups of animals that we had talked about. Then, we drew trees and the kids had to figure out where each animal's place was on the Tree of Life. They had a lot of fun with it and we ended our celebrations eating banana cream pie and the story, Our Family Tree by Lisa Westberg Peters. It was a great time.
I think as they get older, we will focus on smaller topics during our celebration. Right now, they are just getting some basic knowledge. But, when they're older, it will be fun to look at the evolution of horses, dogs, etc. Agnostic Mom also mentioned that she was thinking of a new activity this year involving paint and mixing colors. We may have to try that one out next year. We are having a lot of fun with our new family celebration and look forward to future Darwin Days !
I hope these resources will help anyone who is interested in having a Darwin Day celebration of their own. I want to offer a challenge to everyone. For Darwin Day this year, learn something new about evolution or teach someone else something about evolution. What a great way to celebrate science and humanity!