Monday, October 10, 2011

Q: What Do You Get When You Cross a Pig with a Dinosaur?

A. Jurassic Pork.

Q: Why did the Archaeopteryx catch the worm?
A: Because it was an early bird.

Okay. Sorry. I'll stop now.
Monday is my day to teach preschool. I have discovered the magic of themes in making my lesson plans. If I pick a theme, everything else just falls into place. We usually do a couple of learning activities, an art project, scissor skills practice and usually some coloring/fine motor skills practice. It's pretty easy to pick a snack to go with the theme and some music for our large motor skills time. My kids have tons of picture books so I almost always have two or three books that fit our theme as well.

Today our theme was dinosaurs. I wanted to make these:

 But we didn't have any empty tissue boxes. I know. I know. Cold season is coming. In a few months we will probably be able to revisit the dinosaur theme and make a whole herd of dinosaur feet.

Anyway, we couldn't make feet today, so we decided to do something else instead. Last night I mixed up some salt dough and today we used toy dinosaurs--my boys have a ton of them--to make "fossils".
You can bake the salt dough or let it air dry to harden it if you want to keep it or you can just enjoy the process and have a fun time playing. This is the recipe I used for salt dough:

3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup salt
1 1/2 cups HOT tap water (more or less)
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons artificial vanilla flavoring (for scent, optional)
Food coloring (optional)

Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Slowly add the water, stirring until dough forms. You may need a little more water if your dough is too dry or a little more flour if it becomes too sticky. Stir in the oil and vanilla (if desired). Knead the dough several times until it is easy to handle. 

At this point you can knead in a few drops of food coloring if you want or just use the dough as is. It will store for a couple of weeks if you keep it in an air tight container (I just put ours in a gallon ziploc bag) or you can bake it and it will keep indefinitely. 

Bake at 200 degrees for several hours until dry and hardened. Times will vary depending on thickness and size. Baked salt dough can be painted and used for all sorts of fun projects (think Christmas tree ornaments and stuff like that).

My boys had some fun skeletal dinosaur toys that made the best fossils. 
 You could make dinosaur footprints or use shells or leaves to create other types of "fossils" as well.

And when you are tired of the salt dough, just have a ball playing with the dinosaur toys. What's not to love about dinosaurs?

P.S. I am currently doing a 31 day series about finding joy in the journey.
You can find other posts on that topic HERE.

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