Posted in cognitive development

Dinosaur Dig pt. 1

Outdoor Dinosaur Dig, Part 1
This is such a fun activity for all — especially the dinosaur fans!

Better dino sign.jpg

Depending on weather, this activity can be set up in the outdoor sand area or indoors. For this week, I will set up inside since it will be rainy.   

The objective for this activity is to explore and investigate the toy “dinosaur fossil”. For my earlier staged cognitive participants, they will experience the texture of the faux rock (before it is formed into a solid shape and after). For the later staged cognitive participants, they will experience the texture as well. In addition, we can scaffold with a plastic mallet to break open the fossil during the second stage of the activity. The DRDP Categories this will focus on are: Inquiry Through Observation and Investigation and Knowledge of the Natural World.


The materials needed to create the mud:

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1 cup of salt
  • 1 cup of coffee grounds
  • water
  • mixing bowl and spoon

Also needed:

  • sand/water table or large any other large container
  • plastic dinosaurs
  • plastic mallets
  • natural materials from outside i.e. various leaves and twigs (to feed the dinosaurs and use for scenery).   

Part 1: Preparation

First, the mud mixture will need to be stirred together. Mix the flour, coffee and salt together first. Then add the water. If the consistency is too soft, add a little more flour. If the consistency is too stiff, add a little more water. Once fully stirred, it will have the consistency of play dough or regular salt dough.

I will place the dough inside a ziplock until we are ready to use it. In the first stage of the activity, the children will form egg like shapes to hide the dinosaur (or another small artifact inside). These eggs will be air dried or placed in the oven at a low temperature for several hours.


The second portion of this activity will involve investigating the faux rock and breaking it open. I will use a drop cloth to protect the carpet. I will prepare the sand table with some leaves and other natural materials. Once dried, the dinosaur eggs will be hidden within the table and materials.


Beginning: Guide child over to activity. Prompt child with the dough (How soft! Smell this! Oh dinosaurs!). Initiate play by placing their hand into the dough. If the child is unsure of what to do, take turns squeezing the dough, moving the dinosaur around etc.

Middle: Model some ways to use the dough by creating a rock, encasing the toy dinosaur into the dough, have the dinosaur pretend to eat the dough, make dinosaur sounds and so on.

End: After the child has taken at least three turns, we can ask if they want to “play more” or are they “all done”. When finished have the child help clean up and take the “dinosaur egg” to the counter. We will let these dry to use for the next activity. A prompt question to transition to next activity could be used like “what’s next”, “let’s wash our hands” and so on.


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