Videos explaining the origin of life and evolution for very young kids.
April 2, 2016 12:45 AM   Subscribe

I am struggling with explaining the origin of life, evolution and natural selection in a tangible way to my kids 4 & 5. Informing myself better has helped in the explaining, but I hope you can direct me towards videos aimed at young children which do a better job. Those I have found online are great for adults and slightly older kids, but level of detail is off-putting for them e.g. From the big bang to me, great video, but slightly too advanced.
posted by therubettes to Science & Nature (7 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
It's a book but Our Family Tree went over well here.

For video, the more recent version of Cosmos with Neil Degrasse Tyson has an episode on evolution that was decent, but it depends on the kid.

(We've had a harder time explaining genetics.)
posted by tchemgrrl at 4:23 AM on April 2, 2016

I can't think of a specific video but you might want to check out the The Kid should see this site. Lots of nice short videos, science, art, history, etc. You may find something there.
posted by ReluctantViking at 5:18 AM on April 2, 2016

My kids had a hand-me-down book based on the old télé-France series Il était une fois... l'homme, a history series for children. Turns out it exists in English too as Once Upon a Time...Man. Episode 1 deals with evolution. Of course the whole thing is very dated and you'll need to introduce some caveats (not unusual to see racism and sexism in these older bande desineés) but my kids really liked it, read the book a lot, and had no trouble grasping the basic idea of evolution.
posted by Cuke at 6:05 AM on April 2, 2016

Not for them but for you, this Guardian article really nailed two simple but fundamental characteristics of early age reasoning that typically derail evolution learning: psychological essentialism, and a natural bent for teleology. (No worries, the article does away with the jargon, and gives useful examples and references.)

In my own experience, the two main big things it takes an effort to wrap your/their head around, is 1. the amount of time involved (use a big roll of paper - a maxi-roll of toilet paper can do the trick - to map humans, dinosaurs, and beginning of life to the age of the universe; be ready to be surprised at the actual distances...), and 2. that it's the massive iteration, generation after generation (once you realize how much time there is for it) that makes random - yes, random, not teleological - mutations emerge as such distinctive advantages in reproducing, thereby shaping species, with ruthless-yet-blind, relentless "efficiency", into their ever-more specialized/adapted forms.

Have fun!
posted by progosk at 1:19 AM on April 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

Grandmother Fish is meant to be good
posted by lalochezia at 7:00 AM on April 3, 2016

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. Didn't really find what I was looking for in video format, so going to look at your book recommendations and cover the topics gradually.
posted by therubettes at 6:04 PM on April 3, 2016

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