Story time at Field Museum lets youngsters explore the world of dinosaurs

A partnership between the Chicago Public Library and the Field Museum allows a group of kids to experience an up-close look at the history of dinosaurs and fossils.

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Mosiah Thompson, 4, looks at a dinosaur fossil during a tour of the Hall of Dinosaurs, which is part of a storytelling event at the Field Museum on Thursdays.

Mosiah Thompson, 4, looks at a dinosaur fossil during a tour of the Hall of Dinosaurs, which is part of a storytelling event at the Field Museum on Thursdays.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

“A paleontologist!” 4-year-old Mosiah Thompson answers proudly during the Field Museum’s storytelling presentation in the Hall of Dinosaurs on Thursday. 

Librarian Megan McFarlane had kicked off her reading of “Bones, Bones, Bones” by asking the group of 10 kids what people who study dinosaur bones are called. The youngsters ranged from babies to around age 10.

Mosiah — clad in a Tyrannosaurus rex sweatshirt — was enthusiastic with his answer and very attentive throughout the hour-long storytelling and tour event.

After finishing “Bones,” McFarlane used a dinosaur puppet that brought the kids to their feet to run through a song about a dino’s body — to the tune of “Hokey Pokey.”

The afternoon at the Field Museum was in partnership with the Chicago Public Library to give kids the chance to explore potential interests. More upcoming Chicago Public Library partnerships with other local institutions are scheduled for the future.

Dino expert and tour guide Jeff Schroder offered guessing games, factoids and stories about the massive prehistoric creatures on exhibit in the hall.

“What dinosaur could this be?” Schroder asked as he stood next to a hulking structure. 

The kids shouted answers.

“I heard it a couple times,” Schroder said. “It has feathers — remember velociraptors and birds are closely related!”

Jeff Schroder, the public learning experiences coordinator for the Field Museum, leads a tour of the Hall of Dinosaurs, which is part of a storytelling event Thursday with the Chicago Public Library at the museum.

Jeff Schroder, the public learning experiences coordinator for the Field Museum, leads a tour of the Hall of Dinosaurs, which is part of a storytelling event Thursday with the Chicago Public Library at the museum.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Schroder said the storytelling and tour combo is crucial to the magic of the event.

“So the story engages,” he said. “It gets their little brains going and thinking about this stuff, gets them interested, and then hopefully curious, because curiosity is so huge. Once they’re thinking about that, those little brains are primed to learn more and actually see the real deal.”

Schroder let the children touch some actual fossils, including one that he deems his slam dunk during tours. 

“That’s dinosaur poop!” he exclaimed to a chorus of “ews” from the crowd. “The poop turned into a rock now, so it’s totally safe.”

Moayad Albakri, 10, wasn’t amused by the dinosaur poop — more commonly called in the science community, coprolite.

Still, he’s been a big fan of dinosaurs for as long as he can remember. 

“I like that they’re ancient, and they’re from the past,” he said. “It’s cool we still have their bones and they didn’t turn to sand like humans do.”

Moayad and his mother, Khawla Hammad, and his 1-year-old sister, Layan Albakri, were mostly there for Layan Albakri’s benefit. 

Hammad said the girl is already taking interest in her brother’s fascination with dinosaurs. 

“That’s why we came today,” Hammad said. “She jumps and she looks, she gets that vibe from all of us. We’re all interested.”

Mariah Rush is a staff reporter at the Chicago Sun-Times via Report for America, a not-for-profit journalism program that aims to bolster the paper’s coverage of communities on the South Side and West Side.

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