Often I read Grandmother Fish to some group or class, and sometimes I do a lot more than read the book. For me, the book is just a starting point. Here’s an outline of the activities that I’ve run. To contact me about putting on a program, use the contact form. Thanks.
Deep Time Exercises
How long would it take to say the 200 million greats in Great-Grandmother Fish’s name?
Deep-time timeline on the floor.
Starts with five “Grandmothers” over the last 400 million years.
Identifies extinctions, 252MYA and 66MYA.
Ends with the life of the universe, 14 billion years.
Answer questions about the book or anything evolution related.
Relate what kids saw in the book to what they already know: pets, dinosaurs, birds, cavemen, fossils, or whatever.
Kids often also ask about how I wrote the book and got it published.
Clades & Clades Prehistoric
Cards games that teach basic concepts of evolutionary relationships and taxonomy.
Science facts, such as “some crustaceans live on land.”
Great for a public space because you can drop in and out, and there’s no waiting for your turn.
Vocabulary: clade, sauropsid, arthropod, mammal.
Also: the evolution game Go Extinct! by Ariel Marcy.
Kahoot Quizzes: General Evolution and Evolution of Wings
Evolution quiz games enabled with a free app.
Any number can play, kids to adult.
Designed to address big ideas.
Accompanied by explanation and context to reinforce the big ideas.
Charles Darwin Dance
Like the Hokey Pokey, but about how the parts of our bodies are derived parts of fish bodies.
Engages kinesthetic learning, reinforced by rhythm and repetition.
Good goofy fun.
Also: “If You’re Disgusted and You Know it Go Blech” (song).
Also: “Five Violet Spiders,” an animated nursery rhyme by Tania Lombrozo.
Mating Strategy Simulations
“Males” and “females” are randomly assigned “fitness” values, and then sort themselves out according to different mating patterns.
Designed for adults but not graphic.
People vote with their feet to voice their opinions on topics of evolution, such food, pets, genes, mating, gene editing, cloning, or whatever topics suit the audience.
Discussion on each topic occurs after voting and doesn’t last long enough to bog down.
Everyone voices their own opinion by where they stand so no one gets shut out of the conversation.
Great icebreaker or stand-alone experience.
Link: Notes from running this at Burning Man
Mitochondrial Eve and Y-Chromosome Adam Simulator
When Mitochondrial Eve was alive, she was not the only woman.
Y-Chromosome Adam was not the only man of his time.
How can that be? This interactive activity has kids act it out.
Uses giant dice!
“The Sea” by Mary Oliver.
“All In” by Tiffany Taylor, in the book Great Adaptations.
My Story of Writing Grandmother Fish
Inspired by my young daughter. Took 15 years to get right. Found the perfect artist to work with. Raised money on Kickstarter. Self-published, sold out, and signed with Macmillan. Endorsements from personal heroes of mine, and great reviews by experts. Dream come true.