A “Dino Dig” is something I have been dying to try with my boys. Making our own dino fossils has been top of my “wish list” but I just havent had the time or energy to do it. Recently though I paid a visit to our favourite “Plastic Land” (I feel like that’s a bit of a swear word these days), and when I saw a pack of plaster of paris I quickly grabbed it for my fossils.
I had to write an actual blog for this activity because initially, It was an epic fail. It was my first attempt at using Plaster of Paris, and clearly I hadn’t put much thought into it. I just mixed and poured, and well, it did require some pre planning.
There are a few things you should know if you use this method:
- You CANNOT pour Plaster of Paris down the drain, it will break your pipes (thankfully I didn’t), and it sets almost immediately. Which means you have to work very quickly, it also means, use something disposable when mixing it so you can do an easy clean up. That was mistake number 1 for me, I mixed it up in a baking bowl with a wooden spoon; and I then had to try dissolve all of it with Bicarbonate of Soda (which actually worked very well).
- Use moulds that you can break or peel away. I had found some playdough moulds at Toyzone that I thought would make the perfect dino fossils, except they didn’t 🙂 I couldn’t get the plaster of paris out of the mould and had to almost break my brand new playdough cutters.
So after I failed one night of trying with the plaster of paris, and getting utterly frustrated, I ended up making good old salt dough fossils the next day. They were super quick, easy, and the boys always love to play with salt dough so it certainly wasnt a waste of time. I just wasnt happy with how they looked in comparison to the “Pintrest” pretty fossils I had seen. I turned to good old You Tube and caught a video where they used plastic around the playdough which was then just cut off and thrown away.
Make your own dinosaur fossils (Plaster of Paris):
Plaster of Paris
Water for Mixing
Small Dinosaur Figurines
Paper Muffin Cups
Roll out your playdough and cut into shape with your muffin cup, placing your playdough at the bottom of each cup.
Insert and press down with the dino figurine to leave an imprint into your playdough (remove your figurine).
Mix up your Plaster of Paris (In a disposable cup), and pour into your cupcake/muffin cups on top of the playdough. You want it a bit thicker as if it’s too thin it will crack and break easily.
Once set, peel away your paper muffin cups/plastic, whatever you used. Peel away the playdough from underneath and Voila! Instant Dino Fossils! You will notice the playdough does get a little sticky when you peel it away, so I just took a slightly damp tooth-brush to brush away and clean up the playdough.
If you are really OCD and want a smoother fossil, you can sand down your fossils, but this mama does not have time for that!
Once I had my fossils ready I pulled out some of my old moon sand/ cloud dough, which is just a combination of flour and oil, you can view my recipe here. If you have a sandpit even better! I “hid” the fossils under the sand and got some old paint brushes, a magnifying glass and some dino books for us to read. Once the boys had found the fossils, I whipped out the original figurines and we made a bit of a puzzle out of it, matching the figurine to the fossil, and then learning about that dinosaur! It was a great activity and really did keep them occupied for quite some time.
The best part is everything is saved and packed away for another day of play!
I would absolutely love to hear your feedback. Have you tried making your own fossils before? Let me know what you think of the two different methods and what you prefer. Happy playing!