A few years ago we went to a Dinosaur talk mainly so my kids could meet Nigel Marven (which they did and my son thought he was amazing) but while we were there we also listened to a talk about the Fossil Lady (ie Mary Anning) and I was totally fascinated. So with my daughter’s desire to learn more about famous Historical Women I thought she might be someone interesting for us to investigate. I started searching for resources on Mary Anning and was thrilled when I discovered that Collins had a BIG CAT reader Mary Anning Fossil Hunter: Band 17/Diamond (Collins Big Cat) (the historical BIG CAT readers have ALL been very popular in our house). So I requested a review copy and once again it did not disappoint.
The book itself is well written, it tells the story of Mary Anning’s life from her childhood through to her legacy but it is not just about Mary Anning they include a lot more in the book. I like the way they include lots of background information which sets the scene and gives a good insight into her lifestyle – they talk about how her family was Dissenters and the impact that had on the family, they explain the area where she lived with the cliffs and the harbour which made fossil hunting so popular. These background bits help the kids to understand more about her life. We also really liked that they included some fossil facts in the book together with a short explanation of the other people mentioned.
And even though we have read a lot about dinosaurs in the past both my kids loved learning about how the discoveries were made and how she had to piece the different pieces together to create a skeleton. You also realize how much she really discovered, it was not just ONE fossil, she discovered multiple fossils and she did not just uncover the fossils, she studied them and was instrumental in a lot of the understanding about how they fit together and what some of the fossils actually were.
One of the points that come across very clearly in the book is how she was never given credit for her work for the simple reason that she was female. My son kept reading sections and they would come to me and say, “another man reported her findings and never mentioned she was the person responsible for the discovery.” It was a big eye-opener for him and something that really made an impact.
The other thing that thing that came across strongly was how they would have to draw the skeletons to keep a record of what they had discovered. And they loved the fact that Henry La Beche created a picture of how he thought the dinosaurs would look – this really appealed to mine because the picture although very famous is far from perfect.
And this seemed to really encourage both of the kids to draw their own dinosaur skeletons and dinosaur pictures.
Both my kids were really inspired by this story. And I now have a mountain of dinosaur pictures which are “artifacts” so need to be stored very carefully. My son found that if he drew an outline of a dinosaur and then filled in its skeleton it was a lot easier than just trying to draw its skeleton. So he informed me he needed to practice some dinosaur drawing. We found lots of great Dinosaur drawing pages on Activity Village – they have a great Learn to Draw Dinosaur section, as well as grid copy pages and these complete the Dinosaur puzzle pictures.
We also found some great Mary Anning pages on the Activity Village website.
There is a wide selection of pages that you can choose from including a comprehension and lots of writing pages But I think my daughter’s favourites were the Mary Anning interview worksheet – she really like the idea of being able to have a chat to Mary Anning and ask her about how she managed to achieve so much –
and the Booklet – she loves these little booklets and has quite a collection of different ones.
The Mary Anning book was given to us by Collins but you can get it from Amazon – Mary Anning Fossil Hunter: Band 17/Diamond (Collins Big Cat)
The Mary Anning and Dinosaur worksheets are all from Activity Village and part of their paid for subscription which is around £10 a year
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