Dinosaur Excavation Activity

5.0 based on 1 ratings
Updated on Jun 2, 2014

Unearth your kid's inner paleontologist with this fantastic twist on traditional dinosaur excavations! While traditional paleontologists uncover fossils, your dino detective will dig up his own toy dinosaurs, encouraging his sense of curiosity and providing plenty of sensory fun along the way. In addition to being simple and hands-on, this activity is also a great way to cool off on a hot summer's day. Take your kid outside and unearth some prehistoric fun in this “cool” sensory activity.

What You Need:

  • Toy dinosaurs (at least 10)
  • Unflavored gelatin
  • Water
  • Microwave and microwave-safe container (or stovetop and pot)
  • Cooking spray or a paper towel and a small container of oil
  • Small cups
  • Excavation tools (a blunt nail file and a metal spoon)
  • Large, shallow container

What You Do:

  1. Have your kid gather up a bunch of his small toy dinosaurs.
  2. Encourage him to pick out 10 of his favorites and line them up in a row.
  3. Ask him point to the different dinosaurs as he counts up to 10 and back down to 1. 
  4. Grease the inside of the cups with an oil-soaked paper towel or cooking spray.
  5. Have your child put a dinosaur in each cup.
  6. Prepare the unflavored gelatin according to the package.
  7. Pour the liquid gelatin over the dinosaurs inside the cups.
  8. Place the cups in the fridge, and let them set for about four hours.
  9. After the geletin is set, move the cups from the fridge to the freezer. Leave them in the freezer overnight.
  10. Take the cups out of the freezer when you're ready to excavate. Slide the frozen gelatin out of the cups and into a large, shallow container. Place your excavation tools inside.
  11. As the gelatin thaws, it will have a squishy texture and your kid will likely enjoy playing with it. The large sensory container should be able to hold most of the “ice chunks” as the dinosaurs are excavated out of their icy confines.

Go Further:

Use different types of liquid. “What happens if we use seltzer water instead of regular water?”

Talk about the various textures of the gelatin as it thaws. What is it like when it’s frozen? What about what happens as it thaws out? What happens when you squeeze it?

Experiment with temperature. What happens when you set the gelatin ice block in a bucket of warm water?

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