This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://biologos.org/blogs/chris-stump-equipping-educators/more-great-childrens-books-on-science-and-creation
Familiar with these books or know of others? Tell us about them.What kinds of things do you look for when searching out children’s books on science, the natural world, or God’s creative process?
Thanks again for this list — I hope to invest in some of these in due time!
This was the only thread on introducing kids to evolution that hadn’t been shut down after going wildly off topic, so I thought I would reply here with another resource for introducing kids to evolution. It’s not a book, but it is a screen-free educational tool.
For parents and educators on the Forum, I just wanted to put in a plug for the board game Evolution. A friend gifted it to us a few months ago and we finally got to play it over Easter weekend. My kids absolutely loved it, and want to play it again soon! And it led to a rich family discussion about how God used evolution to create the diversity of life as we know it.
Note: My two kids who played with me are elementary school age and neither has yet reached the “12+” age bracket recommended, but they grasped it just fine. YMMV.
If you’re not convinced, the game was even written up in the journal Nature! How many times have you seen a board game promoted in a scientific journal? I’ll quote the relevant portions of that article at some length in a subsequent comment.
Quotes from the Nature write-up:
Basic description of the game:
Evolution focuses on adaptation and interspecies interactions. You fashion your species, which competes for a food supply. Players are dealt cards allowing them to start new herbivore species, give an existing species a bigger population or bigger body, or add an advantage such as improved efficiency at foraging or the ability to store food as fat. Some cards turn a herbivore into a carnivore. Some help herbivores to avoid carnivores, with a shell or warning calls; other attributes, such as pack hunting and intelligence, help predators to evade these defences. Efficient herbivores get more food, but can be eaten by carnivores. Points are scored for eating, and for the species you have left at the end of the game. The player with the most points wins.
We savoured all three games, but Evolution is our favourite by far. It looks amazing, with evocative artistry in everything from the cards to the little animal drumsticks that the predators eat. A gratuitous wooden dinosaur marks whose turn it is, and tactile, satiny bags store eaten food. The gameplay is simple to grasp, but can get very tactical. In particular, as with real evolution, the best strategy depends on what everyone else is doing. If there are a lot of herbivores, there is an advantage to being an efficient forager, with traits such as cooperation, but lots of herbivores also means a big advantage to becoming a carnivore. When carnivores appear, herbivores need defences, which carnivores try to get around — and so on, in a co-evolutionary dance.
Evolution features sophisticated biology. Traits can be put together in a dizzying array of combinations, so each game can be very different. The theme of evolution is not just tacked on: it drives play. A long neck gets you food that would not normally be available. Symbiosis means that you can only be eaten by a predator if it eats your host first. Horns do not stop you being eaten, but they damage predators, and so act as a deterrent.
About classroom usage:
Evolution captures key aspects of the evolutionary process and would work as a teaching aid for ages ten and up. It could also help older students to tackle specific topics, such as evolutionary arms races.
P.S. For a fun in-depth discussion by the gamemaker, with some more photos, see his longer “director’s cut”-style description of the development of the game over at boardgamegeek.
P.P.S. One person that I think might particularly enjoy this because of the tie-in to ecology and coevolution is @relates. But I think everyone on the Forum who also loves board games and/or time with their kids will enjoy the game.