Monday, July 8, 2013

Frozen Dinosaur Excavation Sensory Bin

One of Bean's favourite shows (the only show she watches) is Dinosaur Train. One of the episodes took place in the arctic and there was a sudden storm, so a lot of the dinosaurs had to hurry back to the train to wait out the storm. One of the dinosaurs who lived there remained with her eggs and protected the nest from the storm. She used her body and feathers to keep the eggs warm. Bean kept pretending she was a dinosaur stomping around, shivering from a pretend cold and then huddling under a blanket that I just had to dash into the kitchen and whip this up!

If you liked our Arctic Small World then you might like this Frozen Dinosaur Excavation! I got the idea to use frozen baking soda from Fun At Home With Kids. Their Dinosaurs and Frozen Sensory Snow activity has inspired me to create so many frozen activities for my kids! Frozen sensory snow is perfect for hot summer days because it lets the kids play with something that keeps them cool and doesn't make too much of a mess (which is a plus!). Frozen baking soda also stays pretty cold for several hours.

So for this activity I gathered up a few of our fossilized dinosaurs, a glass pan, a big box of baking soda and a cup of water. Bean helped mix this together with me and that's why the dinosaurs are in the pan, otherwise feel free to mix up the baking soda with water before adding dinosaurs, because it's just easier to mix together by hand that way.

Add the baking soda into the pan and pour a bit of water over it. Keep in mind that water will dissolve the baking soda, so you don't want to use too much. You just want the baking soda to feel moist before freezing it. We did use a 64 oz container of baking soda, but basically you just need to add enough that it covers the bones.

Once the baking soda was thoroughly moist I smoothed it out and left a few of little feet and ends of tails sticking out, so the kids would know where to start looking. I popped the pan into the freezer for about 2 hours. I was busy so I didn't check sooner than that, but so long as it is cold it is ready to be played with.

Two hours later it was frozen and ready to be played with. I set up the pan on a towel in the living room. I also gave them a tray, a tupperware filled with water, two squirt bottles, two shovels and a paint brush.

They explored everything first. They sprayed the tray and the tupperware of water, each other, dipped the paintbrush in the water and touched their wet hands to the snow. They spent about 20 minutes playing before they really got into the bin.

I talked to them about dinosaurs who lived in the arctic. I told them about what it meant to be warm-blooded and cold-blooded, and how most dinosaurs lived in warm climates. But these special dinosaurs lived in the far north. I showed them a map and pointed to where we were and asked Bean if she could find the north where these dinosaurs lived. They apparently migrated north from our home and settled in Northern Canada where they fell asleep to rest and were caught in a snow storm like the one in the show.

The exposed bones made it a little bit easier to find the dinosaurs. They sprayed the water on the bones and as the water dissolved the baking soda, more and more of the dinosaur became exposed.

They also used to paint brush to help brush away some of the baking soda.

Bean scooped up the excess snow and dumped it on the tray so there was less snow to sort through. Whenever a dinosaur was discovered they would move them to the tupperware of water to rinse them off.

Bean used the paintbrush to "paint water" on the dinosaurs. The excess water helped dissolve the baking soda and this made the dinosaurs become exposed faster. She really liked how mushy the "wet snow" around them became and later pretended it was snow mud and would get the dinosaurs stuck in it.

Munchkin really liked rinsing off his hands and every time he did he removed all the dinosaurs first, but would put them back. Bean barely worried about rinsing her hands and kept smooshing the wet snow with her hands.

Painting the stegosaurus finally paid off and he was discovered!

Since this method worked so well, Bean continued to paint the other dinosaurs until she found more of them. She also used the shovel to dig around the dinosaurs.

These dinosaurs were basically coming back to life, since Bean started stomping them around, roaring at each other (or rather, saying good morning to each other), and went about their lives as normal. They didn't notice that several million years had passed.

Look at how fantastic this stuff looks when it's wet! It's so soft and smooth and isn't gritty like snow. It was still plenty cold after two hours though! Bean even used it to make imprints of the dinosaurs she found.

Munchkin, at one point, had to line them all up. But by then they were looking for more stuff to do with the bin. We had already named all the dinosaurs, counted some of their toes or horns or spikes, and talked about what they would have ate if they lived in the north. So I brought out a squeezy bottle filled with vinegar, water and glitter.

Immediately they squeezed the bottles and giggled with excitement as little eruptions formed on their snowy terrain. Soon, most of the bin became a vinegary lake.

What a glorious slushy snow mud world!

Occasionally bubbles formed and would surprise the kids and then they would go digging to see what made the bubbles.

They then discovered that if they squeezed the empty bottles, they could blow air on the surface of the water and make little ripples. And if they submerged the tip and squeezed, little air bubbles would come popping out.

Munchkin had so much fun with his empty bottle and didn't even care about refilling it. He just liked that he could keep squeezing it and make bubbles appear all by himself. :)

This sensory bin turned out to be multi-functional. After they were done excavating the dinosaur bones, Munchkin added a few toy cars to give them a slush bath. :)

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