NOTE: Paleontologists often uncover fossilized bones during an excavation and not just an imprinted fossil. For more information on archeological excavations check here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Excavation_%28archaeology%29
Let your child become a Paleontologist on a dig by creating his/her own clay dig. This requires some preparation before the day of your Theme Day.
Materials: Plastic dinosaur toys, paper bowl, 1 cup of dirt, 1 cup of flour, 1/2 cup of salt, 1/2 cup (more or less) of water.
Step 1: This is messy but your kids will love it! In each paper bowl (for each child) mix 1 cup of dirt, 1 cup of flour and /12 cup of salt.
Step 2: Once these three ingredients are mixed together add some water a little bit at a time. I didn’t properly measure the water so I cannot recall how much I used. I basically just added a little water at a time and mixed the dirt dough together until it started to form a ball.
Step 3: Hide a dinosaur toy in the ball of dirt and remould the mixture to cover the toy. Set the dirt ball back into the paper bowl and let it dry.
Step 4: I am not sure about how long this takes to dry as I made it prior to our dinosaur vacation and then when we returned we ended the Theme Weekend with this activity. Just keep feeling it until it is rock hard!
Step 5: Give the bowl or (simply take out the mud rock) to your child. Make sure your child is doing this activity outside and that the work area (we used our driveway) is covered in newspapers for easy clean up!
Step 6: Give your child a screwdriver (parental guidance is required here as well as parental choice—you know your child...can he/she handle a tool without hurting himself/herself). Watch your child as he/she digs away at the mud rock until a dinosaur is discovered!
Step 7: Once the dinosaur is removed you may even find some fossilized imprints in the mud rock!
one summer We went searching for fossils for real at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller!
WEBSITES TO CHECK OUT:
This website is great for kids and offers games and lots of information: http://www.kidsdinos.com/
There is a lot of good information about dinosaurs on this site: http://dsc.discovery.com/dinosaurs/
For some dino info and a fun quiz that reveals what dinosaur you are try here: http://www.nhm.ac.uk/kids-only/dinosaurs/index.html
Can you match the toy dinosaur with its matching fossil cast?
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What fun dinosaur activities can you find around your home town?
Tuataras are more closely related to reptiles from the dinosaur era than to lizards. http://animals.sandiegozoo.org/animals/tuatara
NOTE: Paleontologists often find fossils which are preserved remains or organisms. Check here for more information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fossil. Many fossils are imprints of prehistoric organisms. To give your child an idea of what a fossil might look like try this easy activity.
Use play dough or air drying craft clay from a craft store for this craft (we had originally tried a homemade baking soda clay but the end result was brutal as the clay cracked as it dried so we re-tried this craft using play dough). Give your child some small dinosaur toys or shells if you have some and a rolled ball of dough. Have your child press the toy or shell into the dough and then carefully lift it up to see the impression left in the dough. Fossils are hard rock like pieces of imprints of dinosaur skin, shells, plants, even footprints etc..
VARIATION: You could turn this into a game by playing match the dinosaur toy to the imprint!
Is this dinosaur from the Tyrrell Museum a carnivore, herbavore or omnivore?
Print out a copy of my Dinosaur Types Worksheet (Carnivore/Herbivore/Omnivore) and together as a family, as you read books about dinosaurs categorize the dinosaurs according to what they eat: meat, plants or both.
Print out a copy of my Dinosaur Time Line Worksheet and as you read about dinosaurs in your non-fiction books from the library or from home fill the chart out to see which period of the Mesozoic Era: Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous.
NOTE: Most dino-loving kids already know what a Paleontologist is, but in case your child is new to the term now is the perfect time to teach them. Check here for info on Paleontology, the study of prehistoric life: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paleontology.
more dino fun!
A real fossil!
Can you name this dinosaur from the Smithsonian in Washington just by looking at its bones?
A paleontologist at work in the tyrrell Museum in drumheller.