Summer 2015 was definitely the summer of dinosaurs. Well, I think someone could logically make the argument that any summer could be the summer of dinosaurs if you're hitting the right demographic. Still, dinosaurs were the popular thing this season -- just ask Chris Pratt.

With everyone - especially the little ones - going dino crazy, I put together a cool dinosaur focused program for summer.

First we started out with a bit of brainstorming, and I asked the kids what they knew about dinosaurs. It could be anything - what they looked like, what they could do, how they differed from each other or from other, more modern animals. This was a great ice breaker and a provided a good chance for the kids to share information and learn new information -- for example, one child knew the term "carnivore" but others didn't.

We followed this up with some funny stories. I ended up reading If I Had aTriceratops (by George O'Connor) and Dinosaurs Love Underpants (by the always great Claire Freedman).

baking soda and vinegar experiment

Next up was the science experiment. I had taken the time to make 5 (rather fragile) dinosaur eggs out of baking soda. Literally, just mix baking soda with a little bit of water (with added food colouring if you want) and mix until it looks right. You don't want to start with too much water, just add a little at a time and add more if necessary. The baking soda will be damp-ish and easy to mould in your hands.

I ended up hiding little plastic dinosaurs in the "eggs" with the goal being for the kids to get them out using vinegar. My kids were at an age where they hadn't really experimented with baking soda and vinegar yet, so they had a great time spraying the eggs to reveal the little dinos.

Then we went to what I thought was going to be the main attraction - what this program was all about: making fossils.

I used the tried and tested salt dough formula -- 1 cup flour, 1/2 salt, and 1/2 water -- to pre-make the dough for the kids to use. I ordered a set of plastic dinosaur fossils online for them to use to make imprints. I also provided shells to create a little bit more variation in the fossils we were making.

This portion of the program was ... all right. In some cases the dough was really sticky -- I brought flour to de-stick it, but the kids got a bit confused as to how the flour should be used. In some cases, the kids weren't interested in making more than one fossil, so a simple roll out of the dough and pressing the dinosaur imprint and they were done. A little bit disheartening, there. Still, there were lots of other dinosaur books available and we ended up reading a couple more before parents came to collect the kids.

In all, the kids had a blast at this program. They loved sharing their knowledge about dinosaurs (even teaching me a few things), and loved getting messy hatching the eggs and making their own fossils.

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