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Last week’s preschool co-op theme was dinosaurs. Our co-op has munchkins ranging from 18 months to 3 1/2 years old, so I like to try to offer a variety of hands-on play and learning activities that will be enjoyable for everyone. There are typically 3-5 activity centers for the kids to explore, and the activity I’m sharing today was highly popular with both my little men and many other kiddos!
It was really more of a sensory bin with a learning extension. The necessary materials are as follows:

This activity took a little bit of prep work a day in advance of the kids showing up since I needed to make the salt dough, make the cloud dough, create fossil impressions, and bake the fossils. It’s really not as much work as it sounds like, though! It can all be done (minus the baking), in less than an hour. Here’s how I did it:
  1. Make the cloud dough. The recipe is super easy: 4 cups of flour and 1/2 cup of oil. I also dyed our cloud dough and gave it a yummy scent (maple!). If you’re interested in seeing how to dye and scent your cloud dough, visit this post on my Secret Ingredient Cloud Dough.
  2. Make the salt dough. Another super easy recipe: mix 1 cup of salt, 1 cup of flour, and a 1/2 cup of water. no cooking necessary! (You might want make a double batch of this so you have enough to do our Salt Dough and Blocks activity with your munchkin later!)
  3. Make the dinosaur footprint fossils (for budding paleontologists, these are called “trace fossils”). Make sure the imprints are deep and clear!
  4. Bake the fossils at 200 degrees Fahrenheit for 2 hours.
Now it’s time for the fun! Bury the fossils in the cloud dough and add a toothbrush or two to help clean the fossils once they’re found (the cloud dough will stick inside the footprints and cleaning them out with those toothbrushes is excellent fine motor practice!).
I cannot emphasize enough how much my oldest son loved this activity! He just played in the cloud dough for a good long time. Then he started pulling the fossils out and trying to clean them.  The we worked together on matching them with the right dinosaurs.
After that, Cannon decided that the dinosaurs needed a bath…a “sand” bath! Ha, love his imagination!

This is an activity that is sure to be repeated for my little guys!
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