Happy National Fossil Day! Why are fossils so important? Fossils have helped us discover plants and animal life a long time ago and continue to teach us about our world.
One of the most intriguing discoveries to people and most fascinating to children is the fossils that have helped us learn about dinosaurs. Playing with dinosaur figurines is a fun way to let children’s (as well as adult’s) imagination soar! In honor of National Fossil Day, we used dinosaur figurines and a salt dough mixture to recreate a fossil. Taking impressions of the dinosaurs and baking the salt dough mixture made our homemade fossils come alive!
Here are instructions on how to make your very own fossil creations.
Materials you’ll need:
1 cup salt
1 cup flour
1/2 cup warm water
Paint and paintbrush (optional)
Salt Dough Mixture Instructions
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees F. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Begin by mixing the flour, salt and warm water together with your hands to get it to the right consistency.
The dough should stick together, but not feel sticky once mixed. If it feels too wet or sticky add a little more flour. If it feels crumbly or dry add a drop of water.
Separate the dough into small or large chunks depending on the number and size fossils you plan on making. Roll each chunk into a ball to smooth out any cracks. Then flatten each ball to 1/4″ thick patty onto the parchment paper. The thicker the dough the longer it will take in the oven to harden and dry.
Now it’s time to take impressions using the dinosaurs figurines
Lay the dinosaur on its side and press down into the salt dough mixture. Carefully take the figurine out of the dough and you will see the remains of the dinosaur body.
Once you finish taking impressions of the dinosaurs, bake the dough in the oven at 200 degrees F for 3 hours. After 3 hours, flip the impression face down and place it back in the oven for another 1-2 hours if its not fully cooked. Each oven varies so bake longer if you feel necessary.
Allow the dinosaur fossils to cool overnight. Once your fossils cool you can paint them. We chose some earthy colors to reflect where the fossils could have been found.
Here are some key points to share and explore with a child learning about fossils for the first time
- Fossils are formed over thousands of years
- Many fossils are made from animals and plants that are no longer alive or on earth anymore (extinct)
- Fossils are an imprint of an animals body, bone, footprint, or plant that was once living turned into rock
- Scientists and Paleontologist study fossils to learn more about plants and animals that were once living
Pretend to be a scientist
While my son was at school I buried the homemade fossils in the sandbox. He couldn’t wait to pretend we were scientists and search for the fossilized dinos. When he found a dinosaur fossil in the sand we discussed what we noticed about each imprint.
Another fun way to use the fossils is to match the imprint with the correct dinosaur. Placing the dinosaurs in the correct imprint made for a fun matching game!
I hope your fossil making experience is the perfect mix of fun and educational like ours was!