Dinosaur Dig Up

This post has taken me way too long to put together. So long that we lost a lot of the excitement for the project as it just seemed to drag on and on. But I seeing how I already had the post mostly done I thought I would still share. Last month Eden was learning about Dinosaurs at preschool. We always have fun with dinosaurs so I thought I would add to our dinosaur activities by making a Dinosaur Fossil Dig.

IMG_4564I started by lamenting a couple different silhouettes of a couple dinosaurs to use as a pattern that could handle wet clay. After covering the first pattern with clay I decided making one kind of dinosaur was going to be enough. I was picturing the kids trying to figure out which fossil piece went to which dinosaur and figured more than one would be too difficult. After I finished the one (close to 6 hours later) I am glad I only did one as it took longer than I expected.


Next I used a pencil and my fingers to separate the clay into bone looking pieces. I had a copy of the brontosaurus skeleton next to me as I worked but tried to keep it pretty simple. I was surprisingly happy with the texture and real clay like structure of the No Bake Clay we were using. It felt like the real deal and was easy to work with.


I probably could and should have stopped with the basic forms but I thought they needed some more detail and set out to make the joints a little more realistic and add depth by building up some of the areas. IMG_4569

At this point it turned from a simple project to a work of art and my ceramic tools came out (I have a ceramic art degree for those of you who don’t know me well). Really I just got frustrated working with a pencil and my fingers and knew things would move much quicker with the proper tools.


Both of the kids loved playing with the new tools. Eli liked the texted of the clay and didn’t really mind it get sticky on his hands and face. I will have to remember to get my tools out sometimes while we are playing with play dough.

IMG_4583To give the impression of additional bones within the larger pieces I added a few cuts and indentions. I let it dry overnight and while I expected it to shrink a little I was a little disappointed that the neck shrunk and turned a little so that it doesn’t fit on the pattern as well.

IMG_4585Eden made a small pot with her clay. Once everything was dry we painted our pieces. Eden enjoyed this part but was very sad to find out that because it wasn’t glazed she wasn’t going to be able to really eat off of it. I am excited to get to do some real pottery with her sometime.IMG_4620IMG_4618Once again more waiting as we let the paint dry. I would not recommend painting on this clay. It make the pieces just as wet as they were before they dried. Later I found out that if a wet hand touches a painted area that the paint comes off in a big mess.

A few days later (the drying took awhile) I went ahead and hid all the fossils in some left over homemade snow dough (like play dough but doesn’t dry out) hoping that this wouldn’t make the clay too wet. By the end there weren’t any problems with the clay getting wet.


With the dough being white it made it much more difficult for the bones to be seen. The kids were so excited and jumped right in. It didn’t take Eden long to start finding the “fossils”. I don’t think Eli had much of a chance to find any. I will have to repeat the activity again with just him.


They both love playing in the snow dough and while it sweeps up pretty easily I look forward to putting it in their sensory table outside to play with this summer.


After all the pieces were found Eden cleaned them with a paint brush and then put them back together on the lamented sheet. We all agreed this was a fun project but took way too long to make and do. Now that one set is made it will be easy to pull it back and and recreate the hunt.


DIY Horse Play Mat

This past Christmas I found the time to make a few gifts for my nieces and nephews. Something they might actually use but nothing to difficult to make. Today I want to share with you my favorite and the diy instruction if you have a little one that loves horses too.

For my eldest niece and nephew I made colored pencil holders that rolls up for easy travel. I had made Eden one a year or so ago and we use it all the time for field trips, car trips, waiting rooms, and eating out. These are super easy to make and take less than an hour to put together.

For my youngest niece I considered making her a similar roll up holder for crayons but didn’t think she would really use it. I wanted her to also have something that would travel and roll up so with a little more thinking I came up with a different kind of roll up activity: a roll up play mat. I had seen ideas for car play mats with roads and a place to “park” the cars to hold them when being rolled up. So I combined that idea with one of her favorite things, horses, and came up with the design of a horse play mat.

I started by looking through my fabric stash for fabric that resembled a barn, dirt, water, fencing, and grass. For the fencing and wood windows of the barn I used a faux letter that wouldn’t have to be hemmed under to save me a little work. For the outside of the play mat I decided a jean fabric had a rustic feel to it and I thought it would help give it some extra stability.

Next working off my design I cut out each section of the play mat.


I started on the barn first. I hemmed under the side of the barn that the horses would enter through and then did a zig zag stitch  over the cross part of the windows and a straight stitch around the outside of the faux leather to attach the windows to the barn. I then stitched the water triangle to the pasture piece with right sides together, opened and ironed the seam flat on the back. On the pasture piece that is going to have the opening of the fence I hemmed the edge.


Next I set up all the pieces on the the green pasture piece. I did a straight stitch over the fence to hold it and the pasture down. I lined the fences up on the bottom edge of the pasture pieces to keep from having to hem the other sides.

IMG_4421Next I stitched a straight line between each of the barn windows to make the barn stalls for the horses. Each stall was able to hold two of the horse. I used this TOOB of horses and riders from Amazon.

IMG_4426Next I put right sides together of the jean fabric and the mat sections and stitched around the outside. I left a two inch opening that I used to turn the whole thing the right way. I used a pencil to push out the corners and then I hand stitched this opening closed. In the last couple stitches I added a ribbon in the seam that will be used to tie the roll up closed.

IMG_4422To finish off I attached a fun button to the outside of the roll up. This will be used to wrap the ribbon around, an alternative for small hands instead of tying. Looks pretty cute.

IMG_4415It was a big hit as a gift. She played with it right away and I hope she is still having fun it her horse play mat.

Journey of the Star Review

The Wisemen have completed their journey and many of you have asked about their adventures. Most mornings (yah, this took a little more time and creativity than I would have liked and didn’t happen everyday as I had hoped) our kids reached the house for clues to part of the journey the Wisemen took. Here are a few of my favorite set ups from the past month.

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Our Wisemen moved all over the house from the fire place to the bathroom to the pantry.IMG_7651 IMG_7649

Sometimes the Wiseman got distracted on their journey. The Wiseman on the camel doesn’t look too pleased with the other two.


Sometimes they were found hard at work.


I loved that this set had movable arms that could be positioned to hold scissors and other items. IMG_7675

We had fun learning through the process too; this day we learned about each of the gifts the Wisemen brought. IMG_7682

Our Wisemen even traveled with us and made use of the hotel coffee pot while we swam in the pool. We all need to relax now and then. IMG_7833

This day we were given instruction to bake something yummy and share with a friend.


This was my favorite day to prep for. I liked the different aprons and the chef hats on each Wisemen.


We made apple and chocolate chip muffins. Yum.IMG_4201-2

Some days we had fun making crafts.IMG_8167-2

“What is this white stuff falling from the sky?”, we got a map out this day and found where the Wisemen were from.

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Over all we had lots of fun with our little guys but I am not sure if this is something we will repeat every year. It really took more work than I liked after putting the kids to bed each night. Next year I think we might try a program that is all prepared for you and involves the kids doing the moving and setting up called Manger on the Mantle.