Dinosaur Names Just Trip off the Tongue – Especially when you are Three

Why is it that your three year old, thinks nothing of stating the names of several dinosaurs when at times they struggle to come to terms with the correct pronunciation of their own name?  What is it about dinosaurs and their long names that seem to have a universal appeal to children?

That is one of the questions put recently to one of our dinosaur experts who writes lesson plans for children at the Foundation Stage level in primary schools.  This phenomena has been observed and commented on by many parents and grandparents, it seems that “Diplodocus” is not a problem whilst “Da-Da” can be quite a challenge to a budding palaeontologist.

Our dinosaur expert was not aware of any research being undertaken to look at this specific element of children’s phonics and their grasp of speech.  However, it is known, that most  young children up to the age of seven years have an extraordinary ability to pick up speech and expand their vocabulary.  Perhaps the sound of the words themselves have a frisson of excitement about them, the longest genus name we know for a member of the Dinosauria, weighs in at twenty-three letters long – Micropachycephalosaurus (mike-cro-pack-ee-sep-hal-oh-sore-us).  Could dinosaur name pronunciation leave a tingle on the lips?  Certainly, most young children learning about dinosaurs seem to relish and enjoy such tasks.

Once said, there might be a strong sense of achievement of being able to pronounce such a long word.  The child could be picking up cues from the parent or grandparent present who no doubt, would be expressing a sense of pride of being able to trip Tyrannosaurus rex off the tongue.  We know of a number of parents and home educators who have exploited a child’s fascination with dinosaurs to help them with their reading, writing and sentence construction.  If the young pupil loves Stegosaurus, then using this Late Jurassic herbivorous dinosaur in a fun activity to look at how to pronounce words and to get to grips with writing is a bit like pushing at an open door.

Stegosaurus Bubble Speech Diagram

A typical teaching resource provided by Everything Dinosaur.

A typical teaching resource provided by Everything Dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Everything Dinosaur have developed a number of teaching aids to help parents, teachers and home educators to teach basic word recognition and reading skills to their young charges.  For example, a speech bubble placed onto a picture of a dinosaur can help the child to consider what the dinosaur might be saying or thinking.  This can also help the child to consider what third parties might be feeling, thinking or saying.  A number of teachers have helped children learn to read using phonics, with dinosaurs and their long names as part of the teaching text.  Many children’s books about dinosaurs contain a handy pronunciation guide or readers are welcome to contact Everything Dinosaur by leaving a comment on one of our many blog posts and we will do our best to help when it comes to those tongue-twisting dinosaur names.

When delivering dinosaur workshops in schools, especially when working with Foundation Stage children, it seems that dinosaur names are tackled and pronounced with relative ease.  Perhaps like most things to do with the Dinosauria, to a three year old, even the animal’s names are exciting.

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