There's Gold in Them Thar Hills: Digging at the Webster Library
For this program, we separated our room into four main areas:
- Paleontologist: Search for laminated dinosaur bones in a kiddie pool filled with packing peanuts.
- Geologist: Fizzing rocks that dissolve in vinegar to reveal a prize.
- Paleontologist (part II): Create fossils using tiny dinosaur toys and homemade clay.
- Panning for gold: Using a sand sifter, pan through rice to find gold and other treasures.
In an attempt to keep it organized, each child received a necklace with four different colored dinosaur teeth when he/she arrived. As the kids rotated around the room, the volunteer in charge took the corresponding colored tooth. That way we knew who had been to which station.
The kiddie pool was by far the messiest, but definitely fun. The dinosaur bones had velcro on them so when the kids found one, they could take it over to the skeleton outline on the wall and piece the dinosaur together. I had a grand idea of giving the kids tongue depressors to use as a paleontologist tool while searching through the packing peanuts (I thought this might deter them from jumping in the pool completely), but the tongue depressors were instantly dropped and buried. However, everyone did stay on the outside of the pool (which is where many of the packing peanuts ended up too) (sigh).
The fizzing rocks were made from directions found on Reading Confetti. The kids chose a rock and then squirted it with a steady stream of vinegar from a spray bottle until a treasure was revealed (a dime). No matter how many times you see it, that chemical reaction never gets old!
The dinosaur fossils were the easiest station. We made batches of homemade play dough (there are many different recipes online) and let the kids go to town. After pressing the toy into the dough, they could also paint the fossil if they wished.
The last station was panning for gold. Each child received a small bag of rice and a sand sifter (a dollar store beach toy). While leaning over a book bin lined with a garbage bag, they carefully poured some rice into the sifter and shook it around until they found some gold! We hid spray painted rocks and some tiny diamonds.
There were many shouts of "Eureka!" throughout the day!