Charlie's Playhouse

The Charlie in question is Darwin, tho I have my doubts that anyone ever called him that, at least, not after he was 10 or 12 years old. According to an e-mail from the developer, Kate Miller, Charlie’s Playhouse is a

fledgling company, Charlie’s Playhouse, which makes games and toys that introduce kids to evolution, natural selection, and Charles Darwin. I hope you’ll visit my website,, for more details. Our Giant Timeline Play Mat displays 600 million years of evolution including 67 strange creatures from the fossil record, six mass extinctions and much more. Kids can run and jump along the 18-foot mat, which comes with an Activity Guide with 20 kid-tested activities for ages 4-10. We also have decks of Ancient Creature Cards, which include one card for each of the 67 animals on the Giant Timeline, with fun facts, size comparisons and more. The Giant Timeline and Ancient Creature Cards can capture kids’ imaginations for hours. And after the breathless fun, they always come away with a greater understanding of the history of life on Earth.

Dr. Miller herself is a social scientist trained in public health and demography, and has spent her career researching women’s reproductive health in sub-Saharan Africa and the US. According to a press kit she sent me, the company has a board of advisers that includes Louise Mead, Education Project Director at the National Center for Science Education, and Thompson Webb, Professor of Geologic Sciences at Brown University.

I forgave the cutesy title after I looked over the Website. The products look pretty good and include also T-shirts with decals like “Product of Natural Selection” and “98 % Chimpanzee.” One shirt shows a creepy-crawly little critter and announces, “Meet your ancestor.” Products also include a number of books, none of which I have ever heard of, but typically for ages like 4-8 or 7 and up. The page that shows the books also has links to “Understanding Evolution for Teachers” at the University of California Museum of Paleontology, National Center for Science Education, and the National Association of Biology Teachers.

Charlie’s Playhouse is not a nonprofit (or at least it does not so describe itself, as Peter Franken once said), and I would hesitate to endorse its products, but I certainly recommend that you take a look at their Website.