Tuesday, January 14, 2014

DIY Dinosaur Bone "Ice Age" Excavation

dinosaur excavationWith the frigid temperatures we've had outside- We decided to create an "Ice Age" excavation with some of our dinosaur bones.  I like to do this activity in the summer time too, the only difference is that I have to freeze the bones in our freezer instead of outside on our porch.

dinosaur bonesThe first thing we did to get ready was to collect some of our dinosaur bones. You don't necessarily have to have "bones" as the children will have just as much fun digging other items out of the ice.  The bones we used came from some of the excavation kits we have previously used (most of them come with a dirt or clay for you to dig through). If you dinosaur bones and you are interested in purchasing some,  here is a list  of some of the (affiliate link) Dinosaur Excavation Kits we have used in the past.  Over at P is for Preschool, they did a similar activity but used plastic dinosaurs instead of bones, you can read more about it by clicking here. 

dinosaur bones 2


To prep for the excavation I used 2 different large bowls. One was round and one was square. You can use any large container that you can add water to freeze. I recommend large bowls as it is easy to add the water and bones, but more importantly it is easy to extract the frozen ice.

I filled the bowls about 1/3 of the way with water and a little bit of food coloring. Then I added some "bones."  I placed the bowls out on my front porch to freeze. When the layer was frozen, I added another couple inches of water, a different color, and more bones. I repeated the process of freezing colored layers with bones until the bowls were completely filled. (Remember that water expands when it freezes, so leave a little bit of space in the bowl).  You don't have to add coloring to the water. My son thought it would be fun to add the colored layers like different layers of the soil or rock that bones may be found in.  It is also not necessary to freeze in layers, but without layers, all of your bones will end up on the bottom of the bowl.

When the water is completely frozen, you are ready to set up your excavation.  I ran the bottom of the bowls under hot water and the ice hunks popped right out!

I also collected some tools to add: plastic hammers, plastic knives, turkey basters, small pipettes,  and a few containers of water. (I added some salt to some of the water). Here you can see the final set up prior to the children beginning their exploration.

ice excavation

The children jumped in immediately to start excavating!

ice excavation 4

The children in our program are very accustomed to asking for what they need- and it was quickly determined that salt was needed in addition to the tools already available.

ice excavation 2After adding the salt and pounding away at the hunks of ice- some of the children started to reveal "bones"

dinosaur bones 3The children worked at the excavation site for quite some time. (I think we had it set up for about 3 hours). Some of the children were persistent in continuing to excavate bones, others came and went as they pleased.

dino excavatrion


Dinosaurs seem to be a pretty popular item of interest for young children, I know that the children are always requesting to read more about and explore dinosaurs!

Here are a few posts from fellow bloggers that may help you extend your dinosaur explorations:

Discover and Explore Dinosaur Eggs from Teach Preschool

Cardboard Dinosaurs from Powerful Mothering

A Dinosaur Dig from Teachers of Good Things

Dinosaurs for Preschool and Kindergarten from Afterschool for Smarty Pants

Dinosaur Picture Books from Beyond the Cover

Montessori Inspired Dinosaur Unit from Living Montessori Now

Dinosaur Weekend with Playdough and More from Powerful Mothering

Dinosaur Land in the Sand Table from Teach Preschool

You might also want to check out our archives for dinosaur posts! 

Dinosaur Pinterest Board

 and Our Dinosaur Board on Pinterest!

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