Here is an activity that I built recently that I think would work really great at any kind of K12 science-night or science-fair style outreach event that has kids coming up to your booth. Kids can explore the tree of vertebrate evolution by finding where toy animals go on a large printed image of the family tree of vertebrates.

After digging aroun on google scholar, I built a phylogeny (or evolutionary tree of life) for the major groups of vertebrate animals. I tried to make it as accurate as I could, while not overcomplicating it. This tree includes estimated dates (in millions of years ago) for each branching event and images of fossil species (with names and ages) for each major lineage.

After building the image of the tree, I had the game board printed on a large rubberized mat (24×28 inches), like a giant cloth/rubber computer mouse pad with printed cloth on top and a rubberized mat on the underside. I picked up a couple sets of miniature animal toys (extinct and extant) at a local craft store.

If you’re interested in getting a mat printed for yourself, email me and I can provide an editable, high-resolution version of the tree.