Dino ice excavation
Release the dinosaurs from their icy prison!
This roaring excavation activity will brighten the rainiest of days, and teach kids about the nature of paleontology, extinction, and conservation in the process.
- Fill the plastic container with water, and add your chosen dinosaurs.
- Place in the freezer and allow to set overnight.
- Remove from the freezer.
- It’s almost time to release the dinosaurs from their icy prison! Start by talking to your child about what a paleontologist is (this video is a great place to start, and you can also draw upon our trivia below). What can we learn from the remains of dinosaurs?
- You could also talk to your child about the ice age, and the implications it has today. What does it mean when a species goes extinct? How can humans work together to protect endangered species? Why is our climate so delicate and important?
- Next, get your child to try and release the dinosaurs, using the tools provided. How much can they chip away using their trowel? Can they melt the ice with the warmer water? Can they grab the dinosaurs with their tweezers? Does the salt make a difference? Experiment with different techniques, and see what works best.
- With younger children, you can encourage them to practice their numerical skills – counting the dinosaurs as they release them. With older children, you can challenge them to name the correct species of dinosaur as they go along. How many can they get right?
- Dinosaurs lived over 200 million years ago, and walked the earth for over 165 million years. For context, Homo sapiens (that’s us!) have only been around for a comparatively puny 200,000 years.
- Dinos lived during a period of time known as the Mesozoic Era, or Age of Reptiles.
- Although the cause of the dinosaur’s extinction is still a mystery, climatic change, diseases, changing plant communities, and geologic events could all have played a role.
- The word ‘Dinosauria’ – coined by the British biologist and anatomist Sir Richard Owen – translates, rather hilariously and accurately as ‘Terrible Reptile’ or ‘Fearfully Great Reptile’.
- Modern birds are closely related to dinosaurs, descended from a group of two-legged dinosaurs known as theropods, whose members include the towering Tyrannosaurus rex and the smaller velociraptors.
- An evening to set the ice, 2 hours to release the dinos
- Access to a freezer, a large plastic container/tupperware, an additional bowl or spray bottle filled with warm water, salt, plastic dinosaurs, a rock or garden trowel, a pair of tweezers
- Perseverance, logic, fine motor skills