Simple family observances for almost every holiday... from a Humanist perspective.

"By recognizing the validity of the many, you make the one less and less sacred -- the very sort of thing that could end us up with a more reasonable world."

- Dale McGowan, Parenting Beyond Belief

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Darwin Week - February 12-17

Brief Background:
This is one of the only truly humanist holidays I've seen and this is the first year we've celebrated it as a family. I got many of my ideas from Agnostic Mom's blog, but I adapted her ideas to fit our needs and added books from our collection that helped give explanations on my children's level. February 12th is Charles Darwin's birthday and the designated date for the celebration of the advancement of science, especially in regards to Charles Darwin's influence.

Each day of the week we had a special dinner discussion about Charles Darwin and the theory of evolution. Each night had a theme according to the stage of evolution we were discussing. After each discussion the boys each got a tube with a special treat inside related to the discussion.

  • February 12 - Introduction of Evolution: Cells, worms & shellfish. Dinner: Shrimp. Treat: Gummy worms.
  • February 13 - The Second Phase of Evolutionary Life: Ocean life & fish. Dinner: Fish. Treat: Swedish Fish.
  • February 14 - The Third Phase of Evolutionary Life: Plant life on land & Dinosaurs. Dinner: Lentil Soup & Salad. Treat: Gummy Dinosaurs.
  • February 15 - The Fourth Phase of Evolutionary Life: Birds. Dinner: Rotisserie Chicken. Treat: Jelly Beans.
  • February 16 - The Fifth Phase of Evolutionary Life & Going Bananas: Mammals & First Humans. Dinner: Pork Tenderloin (we sat on a blanket in the living room and ate with our hands). Treat: Gummy Bears.
  • February 17 - Celebrate Humanity! Dinner: Formal meal set to candle-light with classical music playing in the background. Treat: A combination of leftover gummy goodies.

By the end of the week, I really felt they were grasping the concept of evolution (more than I did at their age because I'd never even heard of it at their age). What was interesting were some of the conversations it sparked between them and their friends at school. My 9-year-old told us of a debate he and a friend of his got in over whether Adam & Eve were the first humans on earth or not. His friend stated "it's a fact" regarding the bible story, and my son just rolled his eyes at her. We talked about how obviously this topic is controversial and discussed whether it was worth getting into an argument over it on the playground or not. My son got a dose of "how to deal with people with different beliefs" that we couldn't have simulated at home.


  • Our Family Tree, An Evolution Story by Lisa Westerberg Peters
  • The Tree of Life, The Wonders of Evolution by Ellen Jackson
  • Who was Charles Darwin? by Deborah Hopkinson
  • 100 things you should know about Oceans by Clare Oliver
  • Living Sunlight, How Plants Bring the Earth to Life by Molly Bang & Penny Chisholm
  • 100 things you should know about Dinosaurs by Steve Parker
  • The First Humans by Nicholas Harris

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