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How to Make Dinosaur Fossils Using Salt Dough

In our Early Explorers subscription, there’s a dinosaur-themed month that we absolutely love. We want to share a fun, crafty way for you to add to the experience and learn about making dinosaur fossils! In this craft, we take easy-to-make salt dough and combine it with dinosaur toys to create your very own DIY dinosaur fossils.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup water
  • dinosaur toys (small sizes are best)
flour, salt, cup, baking dish, and plastic toy dinosaurs

How to Make Dinosaur Fossils

1. Combine salt, flour, and water in a small bowl or dish. Mix well until a soft dough forms.

Before mixing, we also enjoyed playing with our dinosaur toys upon “Salt and Flour Mountain” and discussing the habitats each kind of dinosaur would have lived in.

Toy dinosaurs on mound of salt and flour

2. When the dough forms, pinch off small fistfuls and shape into flattened rounds similar in shape and size to a cookie. Press your dinosaur toy into the dough.

Tip: Some dinosaur toys, especially those with a long tail, are curved to show the dinosaur in action. Try pressing the dinosaur into the dough as evenly as you can at first, and then lift it up to see any areas that left a shallow mark. Press the toy down again into the dough, pushing harder on the shallow section so you get a better fossil.

Red toy dinosaur pressed into salt dough

3. Repeat step two with each dinosaur. The dough should yield about six fossil disks.

4. Bake at 200° Fahrenheit until your fossils are dry. The amount of time needed to bake depends on size and thickness. Thin, flat fossils may only take 45–60 minutes, and thicker fossils can take 2–3 hours or more.

Four completed salt dough fossils with ingredients around them

Bring on the Science!

During this activity, natural questions may come up. If they don’t, start a discussion using the questions below!

  • What are fossils?
    • Fossils are the preserved remains of ancient life, found as rock in the Earth’s crust.
  • How are fossils formed?
    • When an organism dies, its body begins to decompose. Fossils form when the body gets buried by sediment (sand, mud, or silt) before it completely decomposes. Layers of sediment build up, and the pressure turns the layers into rock. Behold, a fossil!
  • How do we know what dinosaurs looked like?
    • Paleontologists can determine what dinosaurs may have looked like by studying their fossils. Some fossils include bone parts, which show paleontologists what dinosaur skeletons looked like. Other fossils include footprints, which tell paleontologists how dinosaurs moved around.

Let’s play!

Pretend you’re a paleontologist. Bury your dinosaur fossils in a sandbox, then dig them up! If your child enjoyed this activity, they’ll love our Early Explorers subscription!

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