(This is a guest post from an old friend, Kathryn. Looks like so much fun!)
Dinosaurs. Everyone loves dinosaurs. My nine year daughter, Brianna, dreams of becoming a paleontologist, consequently this has become her five year old brother Billy’s newest career choice as well. My son is spending the month of February learning about these Jurassic giants with his kindergarten class. As a volunteer for “centers” every Thursday, I wanted to come up with a great learning activity that would be fun and engaging. I came up with an idea that was inspired by the kiddo’s favorite restaurant, T-Rex in Kansas City, KS, a treat they only get to enjoy when visiting Nana. T-Rex has a “Dinosaur Dig” area where they have a life size fossil replica bolted to the bottom of a giant sand box. The kids take provided paint brushes and uncover the fossil to get a feel for what it might be like to work out in the field. My mini dig site turned out so well, I wanted to share so every child can have their very own. Unless you purchase the sand, this craft comes in at less than $10.00!
Here is the How-To.
Plastic tub at least 10”x13”x3”(I used a 11.5”x15”x3.5”) with a secure lid (for mess free storage) – $3.00
Small nylon paint brushes – $1.00 each
Oven bake clay – $3.00
Sand from the beach, sand box, or playground. You can also purchase a bag from a DIY store for around – $10.00
Any brown paints you may have on hand for “aging” the bones. (optional)
First, research the fossil you want to model yours after. I found this one online. It’s a “Tiny T-rex”, or Raptorex
Next, prepare your work surface. I did this by putting tinfoil on a baking sheet. Sounds tough, right? Then start modeling your fossil out of the clay. It doesn’t have to be perfect, trust me when I tell you, YOUR KIDS WON’T CARE!
Bake the “bones” for 15 minutes at 275 degrees for every ¼” thick of clay. I went a few extra minutes to be safe. Let cool.
Those little balls in the lower left hand corner are fossilized dinosaur eggs.
You can chose to dry brush some color onto the fossil to age it if you so chose.
Place the bones at the bottom of the container or tub and fill with sand to about the half way point. (Just enough to cover the “bones” and then some, this limits the sand from becoming a very messy situation.)
I printed out a picture of the fossil, so as the children found and cleaned the bones they could put the fossil back together like a puzzle. Again, this is an optional step.
Give each child a brush and start searching! You can also use this for pirate treasure or mini sand castle building.
The whole project took me less than 3 hours to make, this includes the brainstorming and shopping for the right materials. It’s storable, making your dig site reusable fun for hours of entertainment. As far as mess goes, it’s no worse than say play-doh, moon sand, or coming home from a day at the beach. Happing digging!!!