Geomythology Camp Quest

Ages: 8-14

A terrific party game for creative and science-minded kids.

Materials: a variety of dinosaur skeleton modeling kits, drawing paper, colored pencils

Many of the ancient stories of mythical beasts—such as dragons, gryphons, and the Cyclops—grew out of the attempts by people in Bronze Age cultures to explain fossilized bones found near their settlements.12 This activity puts kids in the sandals of ancient people who attempted to make sense of found fossils—just one example of the human drive to understand.

1. Remove the kits from the boxes. Intermix the parts to resemble a site with mixed fossil deposits. Do not allow the kids to see the pictures on the boxes or the kit instructions!

2. Give each child or group a mixed selection of bones. Let them know that when people find fossils, skeletons are almost always incomplete. It's often hard to tell whether just one animal is present or if there are multiple animals in the fossil site.

3. Have each group assemble a creature or creatures out of their pieces.

4. Ask each child or group to draw what the living creature or creatures would have looked like. Did it have scales? Fur? Tusks? A long neck?

5. Have each child or group show off its skeleton model(s) and drawing(s), and explain its creature(s).

Not all myths are purely the product of imagination. Many originated in attempts to explain the evidence of our senses. Even when they weren't accurate, the people who created them may have had good reasons for believing them at the time. This activity also gives kids insight into science as a process of using the available evidence to come up with the best explanation we can. If later evidence changes what we know, we revise our explanations.

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