A mock dinosaur dig, a simulation that adds realism to the lesson, enhances studies of both archaeology and dinosaurs. College of Charleston assistant professor, Jared Seay, writes, "students not only prefer simulations and games over other methods of teaching, but tend to retain the information longer than if taught in conventional ways." While your child studies dinosaurs this year, decide how real you want the experience to be. Choose from uncovering a dinosaur inside an "egg" or from finding and removing a dinosaur from a "dig" site for your junior dinosaur archaeologist.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Things you need
- Plaster of Paris
- Plastic dinosaurs
- Cuticle stick
- Resource books
Measure equal parts of sand and plaster of Paris into a bowl. Add water to the mixture slowly, mixing it as you pour it. The consistency will be thick but fluid. Pour one-third of the mixture into a large styrofoam cup. Center a plastic dinosaur in the cup, pushing it down into the plaster mixture. Pour the rest of the plaster into the cup. The dinosaur should be completely covered. Make as many dinosaur moulds as you need. Let them dry for at least two days. Peel the cup off of the moulds.
Teach your child to work like an archaeologist by reading or viewing videos. Show her how to take careful notes, show the exact location of a find, and draw everything just like they find it. Encourage him to work carefully, noting everything around the dinosaur.
Turn the earth in a 4-foot square in the backyard using a rototiller. Bury one or more of the dinosaur moulds. Vary the depths. Walk over the ground and make sure there is no sign to show where you buried the dinosaurs. Give your child a plastic or wooden spoon and send him out on his first archaeological dig. He should be armed with a notebook, pencil, cuticle stick and paintbrush. Include a digital camera to make the simulation realistic.
Use the cuticle stick and paintbrush and carefully dig away the plaster/sand mixture. Help your child find resources to identify the dinosaur once it has been completely unearthed.
Tips and warnings
- Dinosaur moulds can be used without the archaeological dig.
- Increase the realism of the simulation by working with your child as the dig foreman.
- Dinosaur eggs can be purchased at the store and buried.
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