Even though she’s ten, I still read books aloud to Sprite. I enjoy our time together and the shared memories we create through reading. And the best part is that I can sneak in some learning without it being considered “school.” We’ve been taking summer break mainly because her local friends are on vacation now and have time to play. But reading books is plain fun!
Our latest read was The Dragon in the Cliff by Sheila Cole. I previewed the book first on a four hour bus ride, and loved it so much that I wanted to immediately share it with Sprite. It is the story of Mary Anning, a working class girl who at the age of 15 found the world’s first complete ichthyosaur fossil. Because of the prejudices against women at that time, she did not receive credit for her discoveries. Even worse, she was misunderstood and despised by her community because searching for fossils was considered inappropriate for a young girl.
I loved this book for two main reasons. First, it shows how far women have truly come in just 200 years. For example, in the book women are assumed to be unable to understand science. I knew that Sprite would find the attitudes toward girls inconceivable. And she did. But it’s important to me that she understand the prejudices that existed and be thankful for the amazing freedoms and opportunities she now has. Secondly, it is a great book to stimulate discussions about science –dinosaurs, creation, evolution, and paleontology. We re-read The Great Dinosaur Mystery and the Bible to answer some of the questions that came up in The Dragon in the Cliff.
The ichthyosaur is actually considered an aquatic reptile rather than a dinosaur. But who knows? Scientists are basing these ideas on bones only. From the fossil record, we know it gave birth to live young, so maybe it was a mammal. To get an idea of the size of this creature, look at this dramatic image of an ichthyosaur fossil at National Geographic. It is assumed to be similar to dolphins.
As things often work out, while we were in the midst of the book, I saw this cool glue resist craft featured at Crafty Crow. Perfect! It was a great hands-on activity to complement the reading of the book.
First we sketched the fossil.
Then we used white glue to go over the “bones.”
We let it dry for a day before adding a light wash of paint.
Here is Sprite’s fossil art.
And of course, I had to do it too! Here is mine.