Did you realize that prehistoric animals that had flippers were not considered dinosaurs even if looked exactly like them? That’s because in order to be considered a dinosaur, it must have had feet and lived on land, not water.
This was just one of the many facts explained to a room filled to capacity with close to 100 preschoolers, school-aged children and parents on Tuesday, July 16th at the Levittown Library. This “Discovering Dinosaurs Program” was presented by Michelle Manella, an instructor from the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University.
“It’s nice that you don’t have to go all the way to a Philadelphia or New York museum to experience a fun, educational experience like this one where you can actually see real dinosaur fossils and bones,” said Diana Price, Youth Services Librarian at the Levittown Library.
The goal of the program was to educate children in an exciting, interactive way. Instead of simply listening to someone recite details about dinosaur eggs and skin prints, these kids had the opportunity to see them up close. Plus, they could actually step inside a dinosaur’s footprint.
A highlight of the program for many kids was seeing and touching coprolite, a fossil of dinosaur poop! It’s difficult for anyone to truly comprehend the magnitude of many dinosaurs, but Michelle strived to achieve this task by asking volunteers to hold the end of ropes and then walk to different sides of the room, to demonstrate the length of various dinosaurs.
“I think one of the reasons that dinosaurs appeal to most kids is because many of them were truly larger than life,” said Diana. “Their size alone inspires kids to learn more about them.”
“I can’t believe the size of their teeth,” said 10-year-old Bryan Mitchell of Levittown.
Michelle showed the children the sharp canine teeth from some dinosaurs to help explain how they could easily eat meat. In contrast, she also showed molars from dinosaurs who used these teeth to crush and grind plants, but didn’t have the canine teeth to rip through meat.
A favorite activity of the program was asking select volunteers to act like scientists to figure out where specific “mystery fossils” were located on dinosaurs and how they were used. By consensus, the audience determined that the fossil held by 4½-year-old Ethan Gardner of Langhorne, was a dinosaur’s thumbnail.
“This fun activity helps kids develop their problem solving skills,” said Michelle. She added, “It’s important for kids to learn about the different types of animals that have lived and that currently live and how they are connected.”
Following the program, Diana said, “I hope these kids walked away learning some new facts about dinosaurs, including the science behind discovering them.”
The Levittown Library offers many summer programs for children, such as the “Discovering Dinosaurs Program,” to help motivate kids to explore a variety of topics.
According to Diana, a very popular program being offered in August at the Levittown Library will be “Kindergarten, Here I Come,” a story time based on this theme for children who will begin kindergarten this fall.
“We understand that a lot of children are scared about beginning kindergarten because they don’t know what to expect, but this program is designed to prepare them, so they became more excited and less apprehensive about going,” said Diana.
These story times will be held Monday, August 19th at 10:00am, and Tuesday, August 20th at 1:00pm.
For more information about other children’s programs offered at the Levittown Library, located at 7311 New Falls Road, in Levittown, call 215-949-2324.
You can also visit www.buckslib.org to find out about programs offered at all 18 branch and community libraries.
PHOTO CAPS: 1. Michelle Manella demonstrates that this bone was an antler that belonged on a dinosaur’s head. Volunteer is Gavin Pacheco of Levittown.
2. Michael Arevalo and Joel Kaceli, both of Langhorne, holding dinosaur bones.