Teaching Kids About Evolution - Human Evolution

Evolution Unit Study

Lesson 9: Human Evolution

Becoming Human
Six million years ago chimps and humans shared a common ancestor. In the years in between then and today, numerous different human-like creatures lived on the planet. "Lucy," the name given to a 3.2 million year old fossil found in Africa was the species Austrolopitheaus Afarensis. From the waist down she was like a human, but from the waist up, her features were more ape-like. Living in a tropical rain forest, it is believed that some ape like creatures developed legs that enabled walking thus giving them an advantage over certain other apes.

The Becoming Human video from PBS describes several species of early humans which evolved from Austrolopitheaus Afarensis. Some of which lived only to evolve into other species and others of which died out. The traits common and unique between species closely related are explained in detail.
Unfortunately, this video may or may not be available on youtube. You will have to do a search.

Neanderthal were a species of early human which lived at the same time as Homo Sapiens, 35,000 years ago. They lived primarily in Europe and western Asia and were well adapted to survive in the cold climate of the period. 

Neanderthal: Episode 1 - Evolution History Documentary showed the species living their lives. Separated into small family groups of 7-20 people, they lived in caves and ate mostly meat. They were great hunters, cared about members of their clan and rarely lived to the age of 40. 
(Don't let the video preview image scare you away from this one.) It is worth watching.

Neanderthal: Episode 1 - Evolution History Documentary

The video From Ape to Man followed the discoveries of different human like species during the 1800s and 1900s. When Charles Darwin wrote about his evolution theory, the scientific world didn't pay much attention. Several years later his ideas gained popularity and anthropologists began searching for "the missing link." At first scientists believed they would discover one species which would be a transition between humans and apes, but after several different discoveries, their ideas changed. Then, discoveries of different species of human-like creatures were found which were thought to have coexisted. Different from the first video, the perspective of this video follows discoveries and is another one worth viewing.

 Ape to Man: Evolution Documentary History Channel 

Birth of Civilization was a video which served as a good transition between the human portion of the evolution study and ancient history unit studies as it explained how people began living together in groups.
Birth of Civilization 


After learning about how humans evolved, the kids added pictures of ancient pre-historic species of human-like creatures to the timeline.

The were surprised to see how close to the top of the timeline the human-like creatures lived.

Adding them also made it clear that humans did not live at the same time as the dinosaurs, but did live at the same time as early three-toed horses, wooly mammoths and other early mammals.

Check out these great blogs full of educational activity ideas.

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