Monday, July 13, 2015

Dinosaur Fossils With Sand Dough

Sand dough has such a fun texture and is a fantastic way to make your own fossils!

Like all play doughs, it can be used as a wonderful, hands-on, sensory lesson.  We made ours outside because I love to do any activity outdoors when possible, but you can easily make your own dinosaur fossils inside on a rainy day too!

 While we mixed ours, we talked about how fossils are made and what trace fossils are.

Trace Fossils: a trace fossil is fossilized evidence of something that used to be living.  Examples include dinosaur footprints, fern prints, and coprolites.

We took a close look at some trace fossils the kids found last year when we were rock hounding on Topaz Mountain during our vacation:

Trace fossils, like dinosaur footprints, can be made when an animal leaves prints in sandy beach sediment and that sediment dries and hardens.  The sediment (with the hardened prints) then needs to be covered with additional sediment which hardens and preserves the prints.  Eventually the trace fossils become rock as the layers of sediment harden, compact, and cement the fossils.  This is a great site for learning more about fossils!

But the kids were excited to make their own "trace fossils," so we got started with our dough pretty quickly!

To make our sand dough, we mixed the following

Simple Supplies:

* 2 cups flour
* 2 cups sand
* 3/4 cup water
* 1 Tablespoon Elmer's glue
* optional: 1 Tablespoon paint

Easy How To:

1.  Mix everything together.  We added the paint very last.  If the dough is too dry, add more water.  If it is too wet, add more flour.  The glue might be optional too, but I imagined it held the dough together a little better since sand is bigger and grainier than flour.

2.  Make your dinosaur footprint fossils by flattening the dough out to about 1/3 an inch thick.  We had some that were much thicker and others that were much thinner, but the ideal thickness seemed to be somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 inch.  The thickest ones started to mold before they actually hardened and the thinnest ones stuck to our driveway!  Of course, if you don't live in Houston, you may not have any problems with the thick pieces of dough!

3.  Carefully let your dinosaurs walk across your "sandy sediment!"  After our dinosaurs left prints, we had all sorts of other items that the kids wanted to press into their sand dough, including rocks, leaves, sticks, and even more paint!  Feel free to let them experiment!

Some of the kids noticed that we had extra flour, and soon we had several fossils that were made "in the arctic and were covered with snow!"  At this point, I couldn't help pointing out that both dinosaur and human fossils have been found frozen in the tops of mountains!

This next picture is where a "herd of dinosaurs walked through muddy ground that turned into trace fossils!"

4.  You can let your fossils harden by leaving them in the hot summer sun.  Or, you can speed up the process in your microwave!  We tried microwaving some of them for 10-15 seconds at a time.  Our 1/3 inch thick sand dough hardened in about a minute, but it was important to pull it out 2-3 times because it had a tendency to grow and crack.  But we were able to fix the cracks when we pulled it out every 15 seconds.

And that's it!  Ta da!  DIY dinosaur fossils!  You can take your fossils, bury them in the sand, and let your kiddos excavate them with little brushes!  Or, paint them, display them, or see if the prints match the actual feet that made them!  There are tons of options!

Have you made dinosaur footprint fossils?  I'd love to see them!  Feel free to send me a note, leave a comment, or share your pictures on our PreschoolPowolPackets Facebook page!


And be sure to check out more sand dough recipes and projects from the 12 Months of Sensory Dough bloggers:

DIY Moon Sand | Lemon Lime Adventures
Bring the Beach Home with Taste Safe Sand Dough | Bare Feet on the Dashboard
Baby Safe Sand Dough | Creative World of Varya
Edible Sand Dough | Wildflower Ramblings
Music Inspired Beach Dough | Witty Hoots
Rock Pool Sand Dough | Peakle Pie
Sand Foam Dough | Squiggles and Bubbles
Math Sand Dough | Sugar Aunts
Dinosaur Fossils with Sand Dough | Preschool Powol Packets
Foaming Beach Sand Dough | on Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tail
Mermaid Play Dough Kit | Study at Home Mama

(I'll update the links next week when they're all active!)

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Happy Educating!

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  1. What a great idea! This coming school year our letter D lesson will be Dinosaurs. I am going to include this amazing activity! Pinned it.

  2. Thanks so much for pinning it--I'm so glad you can use it! What a fun letter D topic!! :D


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