Monday, August 8, 2016


If outside, try this activity in your water table for your dinosaur fans!  In containers of various sizes, freeze sand, shells, plastic dinosaurs, and or plastic bones in water.  (If your items tend to float, freeze the container half full with the water and the items.  Once it’s frozen, and holding the items in place, you can fill the container the rest of the way with water and freeze again.)
Place these prehistoric ice cubes in your water bin alone or with sand.  You can also bury them in the sand for even more fun!  Add containers of warm water with droppers or larger containers with warm water that the ice cubes can be submerged in. 
Your child will experiment with a variety of ways of removing the ice (chipping it away, using heat from their hands, the warm water in the bin, or even moving the ice cube to a sink).  As they do so, they will also notice a change in textures and patterns in the ice as it melts.  This activity also gives them first hand experience with phases of matter and the properties of water.  You may even tie this activity in with the hypothesis that dinosaurs may have become extinct because the earth became too cold.  This science/sensory activity can also be extended into a language activity as you engage the children in discussion about their activity, and incorporate terms like “melt”, “liquid”, “solid”, “frozen”, and “thaw”.  Additionally, using tools such as tweezers and droppers build fine motor skills necessary for writing.  Your preschool paleontologist will be building skills while freeing the frozen dinosaurs!


After seeing an erosion table at a nearby museum, I decided to implement the same concept on a much smaller scale in my grandson's water table.  I have it inside since it is so warm out now.  Some ingredients: gravel/sand, leafy trees and bushes, some larger rocks, a few other interesting items.  I spent some money and got some items that would go inside a fish tank.  You can also get water filled spray bottles, and of course, dinosaur figures.  After placing the gravel/sand in the water table, add the dinosaurs and mix well.  You want some to be buried, some to sit on top, and a few somewhere in between.  If it is outside play, provide spray bottles filled with water so that the child can spray water to erode the sand and unearth the dinosaurs.  Inevitably, they will incorporate some dramatic play as they create story lines involving storms, floods, or dinosaurs trapped in quicksand.
This type of activity gives children that time-honored sensory experience of mixing gravel/sand and water.  That could be reason alone for doing this activity, but there’s more!  Using spray bottles takes a great degree of fine motor strength and control, as well as hand-eye coordination for keeping aim while firing!  Science and language skills come into play as the children notice and talk about the effects of the water on the sand; not only that it changes the texture and consistency of the sand pile, but that the sand can be moved by the force of water.  This can also lead to discussions about the concept of erosion, or about how dinosaur fossils and remains are found as earth is moved, perhaps by erosion, exposing the prehistoric treasures! 
If outside...when your little paleontologist is done at the table, remove and clean the dinosaurs, drain the water from the sand, and leave it out to dry (preferably thinned out on several trays) so that you can store your dry sand and reuse it later!  If cleanup required, which I love.