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Kids Turn Toy News


Charle's Playhouse Scientist Mom Creates Line of Kids' Toys Teaching Darwin's Theory of Evolution

Pawtucket, RI (August 28, 2009) - It happens to all parents at some point. Their child looks up with big beautiful eyes and asks an impossibly difficult question: "Where did humans come from?", or "What came before the dinosaurs?" or worse, "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?" Questions like these inspired one scientist mom to create a toy line that introduces kids to evolution. Charlie's Playhouse, named affectionately after Charles Darwin, offers kids as young as 4 years captivating games and toys to stretch their scientific literacy.

"Our children deserve to know about the dazzling history of life on this planet," explains Kate Miller, PhD, founder and president of Charlie's Playhouse. "Toy stores are brimming with educational toys on every science -- physics, chemistry, geology, even biology -- but nothing on evolution. Dinosaur toys are everywhere but they don't talk about evolution. We know from our research that parents and teachers are looking for these products."

Dr. Miller has created the first-ever line of products that fills this gaping hole. Shop Charlie's Playhouse online at or at select museum shops and specialty retailers for the following products:

Giant Evolution Timeline Playmat

    Giant Evolution Timeline Playmat * $49 * Ages 4+
    The flagship product of the company, this richly illustrated mat lets kids skip, jump, and play through the history of life, accompanied by "Charlie" Darwin, 67 amazing creatures from the fossil record, and much more. The size of a coffee table book when folded, it expands to fully 18 feet long. The playmat is printed on an environmentally friendly synthetic paper called Polylith(tm), and comes with a boisterous Activity Guide for ages four to ten, a glossary and FAQs for kids, adults and educators. Printed in the US. This product just won the Dr. Toy Green Products Award.

    Giant Evolution Timeline Poster * $29 * Ages 4+
    The same graphic as the Giant Evolution Timeline Playmat, but smaller and suitable for hanging on the wall. Ten inches tall and twelve feet long -- perfect for hanging at child-eye height in a hallway! The poster comes with a boisterous Activity Guide for ages four to ten, a glossary and FAQs for kids, adults and educators. Printed in the US.

    Ancient Creature Cards * $19 * Ages 4+
    Each of the colorful 67 creatures from the Giant Evolution Timeline gets its own card with illustration, fun facts, size comparison figure and more. Printed on generously sized 8.5" by 5.5" cards. Great alone or in combination with the Giant Evolution Timeline.

    Apparel Apparel * $11.19 and up * Sizes Infant to Adult
    Show off your scientific literacy on all-things-Darwin with these clever tees, totes, hats and sweatshirts with slogans like "98% Chimpanzee" and "Product of Natural Selection."

Taking the toy line one step farther, Dr. Miller blogs on a range of topics at Parents and children can click and discover such topics as:

    ... nyctosaurus, a pterosaur with a difference. It had no hands on its wings, so it couldn't climb or crawl -- scientists think that it rarely ever landed on the ground, staying afloat in the air for most of its life!

    ... meet Socotra Island, plopped in the Indian Ocean and cut off from the nearest land for 18 million years or so. And yup, it's got bizarre plants and animals not to be found anywhere else. Check out the Dragon's Blood tree, or Dracaena Tree.

Click on the resources tab at Charlie's Playhouse website (www. and you can also find a free bibliography of children's books on evolution, including picture books, story books, pop-ups, comics, coloring books, activity books, books in Spanish, very old books, very new books -- all for readers aged three through fifteen. Charlie's Playhouse has highlighted its top twelve picks and selected some "recession buster" books that everyone can afford. The company also links to recommended science websites where parents and teachers can learn more about evolution.

The toy industry and the general public has taken notice of Charlie's Playhouse. This month the young company won the Best of Rhode Island 2009 Award featured in the August issue of Rhode Island Monthly. Dr. Toy anointed the Giant Evolution Timeline with her Best Green Product for 2009. The award honors green products made by companies striving to inspire children to appreciate the environment and help them learn to take better care of our natural resources. And TD Monthly featured Charlie's Playhouse in its June 2009 New Toys column for Science and Nature.

Evolution Explained - Dinosaurs, Chimps and Hallucigenia - Oh My!
.... It's an unequivocally huge hit with the kids around our place. What kid doesn't love animals? And particularly dinosaurs. It features amazing creatures from the fossil record that are intelligently arranged on sea, land and sky. The poster is perfect for hanging at kids' eye height in a hallway, and my kids love to walk on the play mat and act out evolution in their own highly creative and hugely inaccurate way. Educational for everyone, hilarious for the onlookers! --The Opinionated Parent

Evolution is a controversial topic, admits Dr. Miller. "I discovered that our national science standards don't mention biological evolution until high school, or middle school at earliest. I was raised in a household where evolution was normal, like gravity, so hearing about evolution for the first time in high school strikes me as odd, like learning that the Earth revolves around the Sun sometime around your junior prom. As a member of the standards panel later told me over coffee, that recommendation was driven not by children's inability to grasp the concepts but by elementary teachers' discomfort with the material," explains Dr. Miller.

"Why is there no infrastructure for presenting evolutionary ideas to young children? No doubt it's due to political concerns in corporate America, yet for most people evolution does not contradict their beliefs in any way." Dr. Miller continues, "Many parents who have been looking for evolution-themed toys have found their way to me; these parents are religious, they are secular, they are home-schoolers, they are mainstream, they are everyone. Why should this majority be deprived of educational fun stuff for their kids because of the few who politicize the issue? At the very least, kids have to be aware of evolutionary ideas for the same reason that they need to know about religion: it's basic cultural literacy."

Working against the notion that evolution is at odds with religious belief, Charlie's Playhouse has teamed up with Butler University Professor Michael Zimmerman, creator of The Clergy Letter project. This project gathers signatures from numerous clergy of various denominations on a letter affirming their embrace of evolutionary theory as a core component of human knowledge, fully harmonious with religious faith. In February 2009, Dr. Miller distributed Giant Evolution Timelines to five clergy signatories in RI, who used them in their sermons or schools. In 2010 she plans to offer products nationwide to all signatories of the Clergy Letter Project.

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Rhode Island-based Charlie's Playhouse LLC makes the first-ever games and toys that teach children about evolution, natural selection and Charles Darwin. The company was founded by scientist and mom Kate Miller, Ph.D., after she was unable to find fun, educational products for her two young sons that addressed evolution.
Dr. Miller is a consultant to the Evolution Readiness Project at Concord Consortium in Concord, MA. Funded by the National Science Foundation, the project is creating a computer-based curriculum to teach fourth graders about evolution, to be tested in a dozen schools in MA, TX and MO.
Prior to founding Charlie's Playhouse, Dr. Miller researched women's reproductive health in sub-Saharan Africa and the United States. She holds a Ph.D. in demography from the University of Pennsylvania and a Masters of Public Health from Columbia University. Visit for more information.