Excavation is the process of uncovering archaeological remains. Children can become archaeologists for a day by participating in their own excavation activities and making their own excavation crafts. These activities are good for daily craft time or as part of an archaeology party. Leaves, flowers and other pieces of nature can be used to make fossil imprints. For snack time and parties, children can use pudding and white chocolate chips to make their own dig site.
Children can hide their own treasures for others to excavate by making treasure rocks. Mix 1 cup flour, 1 cup used coffee grounds, 1/2 cup of salt and 1/4 cup sand in a bowl. Add 3/4 cups of water to the mixture, kneading the mixture so it becomes the consistency of dough. Roll a piece of dough into the size of a baseball. Make a hole in the middle and add a little treasure, such as a coin or small, plastic toy. Seal the hole with dough and let it air dry for two days. Children can paint the rocks once they dry. Rocks can be given as gifts or smashed open at a party to reveal the treasures inside.
Toysmith produces Dig-a-Dino kits that allow children to excavate dinosaur bones. The kit (at storeforknowledge.com) includes digging tools to help children excavate the skeleton of their favorite dinosaur. The bones can then be assembled into a model of the dinosaur skeleton. Kits are available for the Tyrannosaures Rex, Stegasaurus and Triceratops. Kits are $9.95. The company also produces a Dig A Glow Dinosaur Egg kit so children can excavate a glow-in-the-dark dinosaur from an egg. This kit sells for $4.25.
Make a dough for fossil imprints by mixing 2 cups flour, 1/2 cup salt and 3/4 cups of water in a bowl. Knead the dough and form it into small balls. Children can gather leaves, flowers, sticks and other items found outside to make fossils. Flatten the balls and press one item into each ball to make an imprint. Let the imprints dry for several days, after which they can be painted or displayed naturally.
Trilobites are fossils of extinct marine arthropods. Recreate these fossils using cookies and melted chocolate. Begin with an oval-shaped cookie. Place a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl and melt in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds until melted. Once the chocolate is melted, dip the top third of each cookie in the chocolate and place on a plate to dry. Before the chocolate dries, add two small colored candies or sprinkles to the cookie for eyes. Use a butter knife to make horizontal lines across the rest of the cookie to represent the trilobite body.
Dinosaur Dirt Dig
Children can create their own dinosaur bone dig with food. Have children mix a few white chocolate chips into chocolate pudding cups. Add chocolate cookie crumbs on top to represent dirt. After mixing the ingredients, children can have fun excavating the dinosaur bones (white chocolate chips). Children can also use a plastic knife and a hard chocolate chip cookie for a simpler version of this activity.
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