Dinosaur Dig Up

This post has taken me way too long to put together. So long that we lost a lot of the excitement for the project as it just seemed to drag on and on. But I seeing how I already had the post mostly done I thought I would still share. Last month Eden was learning about Dinosaurs at preschool. We always have fun with dinosaurs so I thought I would add to our dinosaur activities by making a Dinosaur Fossil Dig.

IMG_4564I started by lamenting a couple different silhouettes of a couple dinosaurs to use as a pattern that could handle wet clay. After covering the first pattern with clay I decided making one kind of dinosaur was going to be enough. I was picturing the kids trying to figure out which fossil piece went to which dinosaur and figured more than one would be too difficult. After I finished the one (close to 6 hours later) I am glad I only did one as it took longer than I expected.


Next I used a pencil and my fingers to separate the clay into bone looking pieces. I had a copy of the brontosaurus skeleton next to me as I worked but tried to keep it pretty simple. I was surprisingly happy with the texture and real clay like structure of the No Bake Clay we were using. It felt like the real deal and was easy to work with.


I probably could and should have stopped with the basic forms but I thought they needed some more detail and set out to make the joints a little more realistic and add depth by building up some of the areas. IMG_4569

At this point it turned from a simple project to a work of art and my ceramic tools came out (I have a ceramic art degree for those of you who don’t know me well). Really I just got frustrated working with a pencil and my fingers and knew things would move much quicker with the proper tools.


Both of the kids loved playing with the new tools. Eli liked the texted of the clay and didn’t really mind it get sticky on his hands and face. I will have to remember to get my tools out sometimes while we are playing with play dough.

IMG_4583To give the impression of additional bones within the larger pieces I added a few cuts and indentions. I let it dry overnight and while I expected it to shrink a little I was a little disappointed that the neck shrunk and turned a little so that it doesn’t fit on the pattern as well.

IMG_4585Eden made a small pot with her clay. Once everything was dry we painted our pieces. Eden enjoyed this part but was very sad to find out that because it wasn’t glazed she wasn’t going to be able to really eat off of it. I am excited to get to do some real pottery with her sometime.IMG_4620IMG_4618Once again more waiting as we let the paint dry. I would not recommend painting on this clay. It make the pieces just as wet as they were before they dried. Later I found out that if a wet hand touches a painted area that the paint comes off in a big mess.

A few days later (the drying took awhile) I went ahead and hid all the fossils in some left over homemade snow dough (like play dough but doesn’t dry out) hoping that this wouldn’t make the clay too wet. By the end there weren’t any problems with the clay getting wet.


With the dough being white it made it much more difficult for the bones to be seen. The kids were so excited and jumped right in. It didn’t take Eden long to start finding the “fossils”. I don’t think Eli had much of a chance to find any. I will have to repeat the activity again with just him.


They both love playing in the snow dough and while it sweeps up pretty easily I look forward to putting it in their sensory table outside to play with this summer.


After all the pieces were found Eden cleaned them with a paint brush and then put them back together on the lamented sheet. We all agreed this was a fun project but took way too long to make and do. Now that one set is made it will be easy to pull it back and and recreate the hunt.



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