Digging for Dinosaurs; 'D' activities

D is for Digging, Dirt & Dinosaurs.

Digging up dinosaurs seemed like a really suitable outside activity to do with my boy. He is such a boys boy, he loves to get dirty & playing in the Mud.
I found some dinosaur Skeletons at the local toy shop & instantly imagined them under mounds of dirt. S could be a little archaeologist for the day & it falls nicely into the letter D learning theme I was trying to do with him.

So I got the dinosaurs & in a large old plastic tube mixed some potting mix i had left over, sand & dirt from the garden. I buried the dinosaur skeletons through out the dirt putting some along the side so he could see them from the outside of the box. I tried to bury them all in different positions and in different places, then packed the dirt down firmly. I Planted one in the top so that a foot & a back bone could be seen. That's the starting point, and then i watered them in the hope they would grow into real dinosaurs. Ha ha, no just kidding, I'm not that loopy (but that did make you think didn't it?)  I watered them so that the dry sand & so forth would compress a bit more & pack down firmly. then i let it sit over night.

This was a great out door activity & could be done in a nice clean deep sand box, in a new garden bed or even at the beach as long as you mark out where they are buried so that you don't spend hours trying to relocate the dinosaur bones :p  I added some garden dirt into the box so that my little one could come across some real life worms as he was digging, and he did!
I made sure you could see one through the side of the box just to get things started & build up his anticipation.

Lets get digging. This was very hands on and messy, just what we like.  I gathered a few different size spades from his sandbox and added a larger one and a small scoop but of course by the end of it he just wanted to use his hands. (Make sure if you are using dirt from the garden that you rake through it & divide it up, mix in some sand and make sure there are no dangerous spiders/bugs living amongst it).

It didn't take long before he was finding skeletons and he learnt that if he tapped them on the side of the box all the dirt would come off. He did well! He used the large spade initially and used the hand spades when we got down mid-way, then he used the little scoop when he seen a foot or a bone so he could dig small amounts from around it, then he would wiggle them about so that he could pull them out. Tap them to get all the dirt off & whip them along the grass.

Coincidentally as we travelled right up the yard to dig, the neighbours (who are sub-dividing & building a new house) had hired an excavator and a dump truck to dig out the foundation of their house. So we watched them for a while, S loves his construction and told me they were digging a 'massive hole' for a tree :s

Once he had found all the dinosaurs, played in the dirt for a while, re-buried them & had enough, we had to wash them. His idea of course, so we washed them & laid them out to dry.
Tip: We had an empty bucket as we were digging out the dirt, so we could transfer the dirt out of the way & use it for planting later on.

D is for Diggers in the Dirt : Free Play

Following on with the D is for Digging theme, I got a few cheap diggers from the Bargain shop, i think they were $2 each & since we often go out onto the property we have in the bush I thought it would be cool to have a plastic box full of diggers and digging equipment that can stay out there so there is always something for S to do.  There is plenty of dirt out there!  There is empty garden beds with lose dirt so i just used that & put a few shovels full onto the ground, making sure there were no creatures living amongst it. You must always be careful because spiders like to make home in dirt, and something I got in to the habit of doing when i worked with school ages children was to check the sand & dirt before they could play. Actually it was policy for us to check the sandpit each & every day before they were allowed on because you never know what could end up buried or living in it.

Here he decided to bury & dig up a dinosaur skeleton after the dinosaur dig the day before!  Then he made Minnie mouse a house (an old biscuit/shortbread tin), she even got a tree & the digger was building a new house (possibly because we seen the digger next door the day before digging a hole for a new house foundation).  I love his enthusiasm, he gets right into his story telling.

S enjoyed digging, pouring water around to make mud & he dug a little trench so he could see the water flow down it, as he was playing we were talking about the way the water was flowing with the slope of the hill and how when it rains it runs down the hills, rivers and so forth until it reached the low point which is normally a Dam. So we made a little river & a dam down the bottom.  He also had some toy farm animals so they were drinking from the dam.  The diggers were definitely a hit & he played with them for an hour or so & then spent another hour cleaning them off, washing them & splashing them through the water.  For a nice warm day it was a lovely activity to do outside, it kept him occupied, it was hands on, messy, fun and we will be sure to do it again.  What little one doesn't like making MUD pits & playing in the dirt :-D

Construction Sensory Box: D is for Digging theme.

In a tub put bits & pieces of different texture & size along with some tools. Here we used some decorative stones, small silver ones & larger black pebbles, there are some larger lucky stones, a pine cone, a fake plant, a piece of drift wood and of course, the construction diggers & signs. I gave S some spoons and measuring scoops to dig with. The first thing he did was fill up the dump truck & again he asked to dig up dinosaurs so we buried some little toy ones he had in his room.

This was an easy peasy japanesey activity and he did well at keeping everything inside the box. I love sensory boxes as they are hands on and led to much more imaginary play; well isn't it lots more fun to actually play with scooping rocks rather than just pretending? I think so.
The digging technique of this activity was very tactile, with the different size spoons, scoops and digging tools he learnt which size scoop work better to dig holes, which fills up the dump truck in the most effective way and in the meantime he got to practice manipulating objects that he uses every day (like spoons for eating).

Happy Digging!

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