We often think of dinosaurs as big, menacing and mysterious creatures. Even though they are no longer with us, most children love everything about them! What draws children, and even adults to these magnificent creatures?
My own fascination with dinosaurs began at a very young age. Whilst I could not find them in the zoo, or in museums, or in the streets, I could still picture them vividly in my mind. They seemed to adopt an aura of mythical nature.
We have a dig pit over at KidsSTOP™, the wonderful place that is work for me. I’ve observed the same glint in the eyes of the little ones when they encounter dinosaurs. It’s the same with children all over the world. They often wonder how creatures so powerful, strong and unique could have existed! They ask for their stories and question how they relate to each other. Children love to imagine and engage in role-play, and with dinosaurs, it seems like the sky is the limit. They can imagine dinosaurs in the wildest realms of their minds!
For example, could the mighty Tyrannosaurus rex roar like a lion or screech like a chicken? Could the Brachiosaurus really be docile? Perhaps, because of its huge size, it could stomp with earth shattering might and take out meat-eating predators with just its foot? And the best part is there is no need to be afraid of these awe-inspiring dinosaurs while out and about – because they are extinct. So children can run around and encounter these creatures without any fear of getting devoured!
The allure of mainstream movies like Jurassic Park, The Land Before Time and the latest Jurassic World has always drawn interest from different age groups. Such movies bring these dinosaurs to life through rich animation in ways that extend our imagination or what we can find in books. Children can now see their movements, behaviour, characteristics, and interactions up close! Movies juxtapose fantasy with reality, they make the connection with prehistoria seem almost real!
Fossils bring these dinosaurs to life as well – there is a certain fascination with excavating and piecing together the bones of these creatures as compared to animals that exist today. Compared to movies, fossils are the real deal and may have inspired many a child-like director to create the dinosaur blockbusters we see today.
A study conducted in 2008 found that children who develop a fascination with a certain topic; a concept called ‘sustained intense interest’ are aided in their cognitive development. This happens because they are so fascinated with that particular topic that they tend to seek more knowledge by asking more questions and going on adventures while having fun in the process. Somehow, children also feel a certain sense of satisfaction when they are able to provide more facts about a dinosaur to an adult.
There is one word to describe dinosaurs – “cool”. Whatever it is, we know for sure that dinosaurs are here to “stay”. The fascination with dinosaurs have inspired generations before, and will continue to inspire for a very long time to come.
Written by Marie Therese
Illustration by Toh Bee Suan