I am so stoked to share that #8 on my #SummerFun List (Excavating dinosaurs) went really well. I actually did this activity several times this week. On Wednesday I went to Alistair’s summer camp as a “mystery guest” and did this and then again at home yesterday. My first group had about 10 preschoolers and the second group (including Alistair) had 12 4 and 5 year olds.
To get ready for the activity I bought several 8-packs of dinosaurs at the Dollar Tree, everything else I already had at home. While looking online at what other bloggers did, I noticed that the ice blocks were simply blocks. I wanted to have a bit more fun with shapes. I used some of my cake pans to freeze our dinos in, a pirate ship, castle and chrysanthemum. I also used a large bowl and tupperware. It’s much easier to get the ice blocks out of the plastic containers, but to get them out of the metal cake pans, all you have to do run some warm water over the mold and it will slide out.
Learn from my mistakes. Do this project outside. I tried doing it inside with the younger group but the water splashed all over the tables and floors and made such a mess. After this I took the older group outside to excavate at the picnic tables. I split the kids into groups of 3 or 4 and gave each group a plastic tray with an ice block on top, as well as some “tools” for digging. They tried digging with plastic butter knives and metal spreaders, but after a while they realized they didn’t work so well. I recommend taking the tools away from the kids at this point. Then I filled up some bowls with water and gave each camper a small cup. The water did a much better job of freeing the dinosaurs. It took about 15 minutes or so to get all of them out. The kids were so excited to keep their dinosaurs.
Alistair had so much fun excavating, we decided to do this again at home. He and Wesley picked out some of their other small plastic toys and dropped them in the pirate ship mold and I filled it with water. They liked checking on the progress of the ice every now and then. Yesterday, when Dan came home from work, we did some more excavating. Of course I made the same mistake of starting inside but quickly brought it outside. The complete lack of shade helped to melt the ice faster too. Wesley really enjoyed this project too. He had no problem pouring the water, but he didn’t understand the idea of pouring it right over the animal. He just dumped it anywhere. This probably best suited for 4 and 5 year olds.
I loved doing the #summerfun activity at camp and at home. It would be a really fun thing to do for a dinosaur themed birthday party. You really don’t have to buy anything for it. Chances are you already have small plastic toys in your child’s bedroom. You can keep freezing the same ones. You could change it up by adding some food coloring. I’ve also seen this done with pieces of fruit on Sid the Science Kid on PBS.
Check out my #SummerFun List for even more ideas for activities to do with your kids at home.