Wednesday, June 24, 2015

MommyMaestra Summer of Fun: DIY Fossil Dig

Jurassic World is still going strong in this house. We went to see it on opening night and the topic is still surfacing. The other day I walked into the dining room to find my son opening a tub of plaster of Paris. Next thing I knew we were burying dinosaurs. Why? So he could dig them up again, of course!

It's actually a brilliant idea. If you have a child who is crazy about dinosaurs then the chance are good that you've got those little dinosaur skeleton figures floating around in their toy chest. So why not use them to let your child role play a paleontologist?

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DIY Fossil Dig

The great thing is that you probably have most, if not all, of the items you need for this project laying around your house!

What you need:


First, line the container with the wax paper. You can skip this step if you use paper cups. They typically have a thin wax coating. Plus they are easy tear off if the cast sticks.

My son preferred to have several layers of rock and sand. So he first added a thin layer of sand to the bottom of the container. (This helped keep the plaster from sticking to the bottom of the container, too.)

Next, he inserted the dinosaur skeleton into the container. (I wasn't around when my son started this project, so he wound up using a coffee can. It was a bit of a problem because of the lip at the top and we had to struggle to get the dino out of the can afterwards. That's why I recommend using yogurt cups or even just paper or plastic drinking cups.)

Following the directions on the package, we mixed up a batch of plaster of Paris then poured a layer into the container. Depending on the age of your child, you may have to help them with this. NOTE: Do not leave young children alone with Plaster of Paris! It's hazardous!) We topped it off with sand we covered the statue, leaving just a tiny bit of the skull exposed at the top for the "discovery!" My son added a fake plant to the top to make it more realistic.

With smaller skeletons, you can do half sand and half plaster. Or mix it up and try doing all sand or all plaster. Just be aware that the plaster sets hard so it is more difficult to excavate.

Once the plaster of Paris had fully set, he began by gently sweeping the sand away from the skeleton using his little paint brush. Afterward, he removed the cast from the container and began "excavating" using a miniature hammer and chisel set we had left over from another Dino Dig play set. He enjoys the challenge. The plaster can be a little hard, so I strongly recommend starting off with a small skeleton and maybe using more sand than plaster. My son used a nail to scrape away at parts of the plaster, but if you have young children, don't use a nail as they could hurt themselves.

This is a fun project that takes a good bit of time and keeps kids busy for a good chunk of time if they are keen excavators!

Other Dino Activities

If your kids love activities that keep their hands busy, consider one of these other dinosaur-inspired options!

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