Early Explorers Dinosaurs

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Unlike many of his peers, Travis has never shown much interest in dinosaurs, but suddenly they seem to be everywhere in his world! His nursery school is doing a dinosaur unit, and we ventured to Dinosaur State Park as part of his Early Explorer’s world discovery unit. Little did we know that our next kit from “Max and Mia” at Little Passports would be all about dinos!

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Travis was very into some of the regular items in this month’s kit, adroitly sticking his dino sticker onto his suitcase, proudly matching up each sticker on his map (“Don’t do a thing, Mom!” he commanded me), and eager to check out this month’s flashlight game. He also took right to the activities in the monthly info booklet.

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Dinosaurs Craft:

There was no real art project with the dinosaur unit, but the booklet did include a suggestion to draw our own dinosaurs. Since Travis is still making scribbles, I presented him with a dinosaur coloring book instead. He was delighted, and is fast becoming familiar with names like pterodactyl and T. Rex.

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He was so proud of his coloring that he raced to hang up his artwork. Soon we had a dino gallery!

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Dinosaurs Science:

The booklet includes nifty info on fossils to give your child a quick science lesson: fossils aren’t actually the bones themselves, but a hard rock-like “cast” that forms around them. To approximate a fossil, we followed the booklet’s instructions. First, flatten air-dry clay into a circle, then press in a found object.

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We used leaves and rocks, but I wish we’d had a shell on hand! Sticks or twigs would work too.

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Carefully remove the object, leaving an imprint behind.

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Next, fill the cavity with glue. Let dry completely. Once dry, peel off the glue – this is your fossil “cast.”

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I was skeptical, but we were able to peel off our leaf and rock imprints quite well. In all honesty, I was probably more into the final result than Travis was!

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Dinosaurs Keepsake:

This month’s package came with an adorable stuffed stegosaurus.

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I also opted for the add-on pack of 4 additional plush dino friends, which included a poster describing where in the world dinos have been found. T. Rex now sleeps with Travis every night, of course.

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Dinosaurs Field Trip:

Whoops, we’d just been to a dinosaur footprint park, so needed a new field trip this time! The next obvious answer was to visit dinosaur fossils and skeletons at a Natural History Museum.

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If you’re also fortunate enough to live near a place where you child can see full skeletons assembled, do it! Nothing compares to seeing how huge these reptiles were in person.

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Dinosaurs Further Activities:

We wanted more dinosaur fun, so I poked around on Little Passport’s blog and dug up this dino excavating activity. It’s something we’ve done before, but not in ages! First, we needed to squeeze dinosaurs through the opening of uninflated balloons (always a stretchy endeavor).

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Fill the balloons with water (a funnel is helpful), and then tie off. Freeze overnight.

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The next morning I asked Travis if he wanted to excavate our dinosaur egg fossils, and he couldn’t wait! First he needed to hold and explore the frozen balloons.

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We started by using hot water and pipettes to thaw out the dinos…

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…and we loved whenever a bumpy limb or scale emerged through the ice.

LP Dino (9)Once they were exposed enough, we added tools into the equation. Travis did great chiseling, using a hammer while I supported a screwdriver.

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He was thrilled when the ice cracked away from the dinos in big chunks. Freed!

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In addition, we checked out a few dino books from the library, and Travis loved matching our plastic dino figures up to the book.

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The books were a great prompt to encourage him to imagine life in prehistoric times, asking if he thought it was hot or cold, or what sounds he might hear. He was amazed to learn there would be no noise from car engines or airplanes.

Travis latched on to ankylosaurs as a favorite, so we did some research online and even found cute videos about it!

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As a final suggestion, we headed outside to see if we could be archaeologists and find any animal prints or plant impressions left in the ground. We thought this trail might have been left by a slug!

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And even found paw prints.

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Looking forward to our next Explorer adventure!

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