With the frigid temperatures we’ve had outside- We decided to create an “Ice Age” excavation with some of our dinosaur bones. I like to do this activity in the summer time too, the only difference is that I have to freeze the bones in our freezer instead of outside on our porch.
The first thing we did to get ready was to collect some of our dinosaur bones. You don’t necessarily have to have “bones” as the children will have just as much fun digging other items out of the ice. The bones we used came from some of the excavation kits we have previously used (most of them come with a dirt or clay for you to dig through). If you dinosaur bones and you are interested in purchasing some, here is a list of some of the (affiliate link) Dinosaur Excavation Kits we have used in the past. Over at P is for Preschool, they did a similar activity but used plastic dinosaurs instead of bones, you can read more about it by clicking here.
To prep for the excavation I used 2 different large bowls. One was round and one was square. You can use any large container that you can add water to freeze. I recommend large bowls as it is easy to add the water and bones, but more importantly it is easy to extract the frozen ice.
I filled the bowls about 1/3 of the way with water and a little bit of food coloring. Then I added some “bones.” I placed the bowls out on my front porch to freeze. When the layer was frozen, I added another couple inches of water, a different color, and more bones. I repeated the process of freezing colored layers with bones until the bowls were completely filled. (Remember that water expands when it freezes, so leave a little bit of space in the bowl). You don’t have to add coloring to the water. My son thought it would be fun to add the colored layers like different layers of the soil or rock that bones may be found in. It is also not necessary to freeze in layers, but without layers, all of your bones will end up on the bottom of the bowl.
When the water is completely frozen, you are ready to set up your excavation. I ran the bottom of the bowls under hot water and the ice hunks popped right out!
I also collected some tools to add: plastic hammers, plastic knives, turkey basters, small pipettes, and a few containers of water. (I added some salt to some of the water). Here you can see the final set up prior to the children beginning their exploration.
The children jumped in immediately to start excavating!
The children in our program are very accustomed to asking for what they need- and it was quickly determined that salt was needed in addition to the tools already available.
The children worked at the excavation site for quite some time. (I think we had it set up for about 3 hours). Some of the children were persistent in continuing to excavate bones, others came and went as they pleased.
Dinosaurs seem to be a pretty popular item of interest for young children, I know that the children are always requesting to read more about and explore dinosaurs!
Here are a few posts from fellow bloggers that may help you extend your dinosaur explorations:
You might also want to check out our archives for dinosaur posts!