Homemade Dinosaur Fossil Project

Our Creatively Shine Curriculum™ theme this month is “Dinosaur Discovery”. The children will learn about different types of dinosaurs, they will go on fossil digs, safari adventures and have a lot of hands-on experiences learning about dinosaurs. We love when parents get involved in activities at school and at home with their children, so we have included step by step instructions for an activity you can do at home to learn more about dinosaurs with your child(ren):

First, you will need to make Salt Dough:

1 cup of salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup lukewarm water

1. In a large bowl mix salt and flour.
2. Gradually stir in water. Mix well until it forms a doughy consistency.
3. With your hands form a ball with your dough and knead it for at least 5 minutes. The longer you knead your dough the smoother it will be.

Store your salt dough in an airtight container and you will be able to use it for days. You can paint your creations with acrylic paints and seal with varnish or polyurethane spray.

You can let your salt dough creations air dry, however, the salt dough can also be dried in the oven.

Bake at 200 F until your creation is dry. The amount of time needed to bake your creations depends on size and thickness; thin flat ornaments may only take 45-60 minutes, thicker creations can take 2-3 hours or more. You can increase your oven temperature to 350 F, your dough will dry faster but it may also brown, which won’t matter if you are painting your entire creation (you can also cover your dough in the oven before it turns brown).

• Salt dough (add brown food coloring to the water to get brown colored fossils – mix red, blue and yellow to get brown)
• Small Plastic Dinosaur figurine
• Circle or square cookie cutter or playdough cutter
• Baking sheet
• Oven (optional)

Here’s how you make it… 
1. Roll your dough out, the thickness depends on how big your figurine is. Make sure your dough is more than half the thickness of your dinosaur figurine. Use a cookie cutter (a glass works well too) to cut out a circle.
2. Press your dinosaur into the dough and remove it, you’ll see your dinosaur shape in the dough.
3. Dry your Dinosaur Fossils by baking them at 200 F. The amount of time needed to bake depends on how thick your dough is. Fossils that are about ¼” thick will need to bake for about 3 hours. You can increase the temperature up to 350 F but your fossils may get browner on the top, just check them and cover if needed.

You can also paint your fossils with regular acrylic paint if you choose, seal the paint with varnish or polyurethane spray.

Not only will this be a fun project for you to do together, but you can also encourage learning through emphasizing some of the following facts:

  • Fossils can be imprinted from bones, plants, nests, footprints and even animal droppings and the process to form fossils can take millions of years.
  • Many of the fossils we discover are preserved from parts of living things that are now extinct, like dinosaurs.
  • Extinct means no longer in existence, leaving no living representatives.
  • Fossils are used as clues by paleontologists and each fossil tells a story that helps them understand how life has changed and evolved on Earth.
  • A paleontologist is a scientist who studies fossils and the remains of all life forms.