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If Your Kid Is a Dinosaur Maniac...

kid looking at timeline

...then he simply MUST meet the Gerrothorax, a 3-foot sea creature that lived 250 million years ago. Or perhaps she'll have more fun hanging out with the Astrapotherium — a sort of elephant-hippo hybrid with a trunk and teeny ears that was around 40 million years ago.

Not to worry if you've never heard of these two (or the other bizarro prehistoric creatures that populate the fossil record). I hadn't either, in part because Steven Spielberg has not made a blockbuster about any of them (although he should.) But I think the main reason is that, shockingly, there are no toys or games that teach kids about the evolution of life on Earth! (Leave a comment if you've found one.)

That's a pretty big oops. In fact, it's a T-rex sized omission, especially considering how easy it is to find chemistry, geology, and biology toys ... and given the fact that the teaching of evolution is being challenged in school districts across the country. 

Into the void steps Charlie's Playhouse, (Charlie is Charles Darwin) with a new line of goodies that teach kids all about evolution and the myriad weird critters that slithered and crawled and galumphed along over the past 600 million years, some alongside our friends, the dinosaurs.

Launched this year by a mom and scientist who was irked that her info-hungry kids had no fun way to vacuum up all they wanted to know, Charlie's Playhouse has scientifically accurate playthings geared to kids 4-10, including the Giant Timeline, a durable 18-foot-long play mat (which folds up to the size of a coffee table book) — a veritable beauty pageant of 67 extinct and still-living creatures, complete with goofy factoids and size comparisons. While the Giant Timeline ($49) is Charlie's Playhouse's biggest deal, apartment dwellers will appreciate the Giant Timeline Poster ($29) and the Ancient Creature Cards ($16), an oversized deck with all facts and details about the beings that appear on the timeline. (Bonus: shipping is free through Thanksgiving weekend!)

Excuse me. Gotta go. There's bug-eyed eel-like animal that was among the first to rock a backbone 480 million years ago called a Promissum that needs my attention. 

timeline cover