Idea No.

2479

Dinosaur Theme -4yr- Dino Info Poster per Activity

Award

Date

August 2001

From

Mary in North Ridgeville, Ohio, USA

Runner-Up

Dinosaur Party

My son requested a dinosaur themed party for his 4th birthday.  At his first mention of this, I had no idea what a fun and exciting party this could be.  As the party came closer and I researched and thought about it,  I was inundated with so many fun ideas, I could hardly sleep at night with the excitement. 

For his invitations, I printed and cut out a dinosaur.  Written on the dinosaur was the following: "Congratulations! Excavation accomplished!  Therefore, (my son's name) invites you to join him and other expert paleontologists for a Birthday Dinosaur Expedition on (date and time) at (our last name) Cave and Quarry, located at (our address).  You'll be sure to uncover a dino-mite time of food, fun and games and some dinosaurs, too! Please, RSVP -- Don't be extinct!"  I, then, covered the dinosaur with clear contact paper.  Using two parts sand, one part corn starch, and one and a half parts water heated on the stove, I covered the dinosaur in the sand mixture, let dry and harden and placed in a ziploc bag with a note stating, "Uncover the enclosed fossil to make an important discovery."  These were mostly hand delivered. Above the entrance to our enclosed porch,  I hung a sign that read, "Dinosaur Research Lab."  Children with their parents were directed there while everyone was arriving. 

I set up several tables(stations)around the porch.  At each station, I placed a poster with some very simplified and basic information about dinosaurs, their eggs, fossils, and extinction theories.  I retrieved most of this information from www.enchantedlearning.com. At the first table(a general introduction of dinosaurs), I placed several paper models of different kinds of dinosaurs(patterns from www.rain.org) and a plastic skeleton of a velociraptor I bought at a store. I also had patterns cut out and instructions so they could make their own paper dinosaur model (Most of these are very simple to assemble).  At the dinosaur egg station, I put a toy electronic dinosaur egg that simulates the hatching of a dinosaur(from the Disney's Dinosaur movie).

At the fossil station, I hung an inflatable globe purchased from The Oriental Trading Company which shows the locations where different dinosaur fossils were found.  I also placed some chicken bones, old egg shells, and rocks in the sand mixture described above in a pie pan(one for each child), and put out some sand shovels, toy screwdrivers(for chisels), and paint brushes so the kids could "excavate" their own "fossils." 

For the extinction theories center, I made a volcano out of sand in a baby bathtub and put out a Dixie cup of baking soda for each child and a bottle of vinegar dyed red, so each child could take turns making the volcano "erupt."  In the center of the "research lab" was a table with crayons and dinosaur coloring pages. 

After the guests had arrived and had sufficient time to explore the "lab", I sat them all on the floor and read a simple book about fossils and dinosaurs to prepare them for their "expedition". The first stop on the expedition(in our backyard) was a cave I made out of cardboard boxes using brown wrapping paper to fashion the opening to look like a cave.  At the beginning of the cave was a cave drawing.  The kids were asked what they thought the cave drawing was about or what they thought the person who drew it was trying to communicate.  Then they were invited to crawl through the cave where I had left several pieces of chalk so they could make their own cave drawings. 

Then, the kids were taken to the "quarry"(a tarp covered with sand) and given sand shovels to look for "fossils".  I buried pieces of a large dinosaur puzzle in the sand.  When they found all the pieces we worked together to assemble it and identify what kind of dinosaur it was.  From the information given in the "research lab", we talked briefly about whether it walked on two-legs or four, was slow or fast, and ate meat or vegetation.  I, then, gave them each a dinosaur mask which I ordered from Oriental Trading Company.  I told them we were going back in time and pretending we were dinosaurs.  I gave each child a bowl and told them to use grass or leaves to make it into a nice nest for their eggs and find a safe place in the yard to place it.  When I gave the signal, the children hunted for eggs I had scattered around the yard that matched the color of their mask and took them back to their nest.  The first "dinosaur" to collect ten eggs that matched his color won. 

Lunch was served in the T-Rex CafĂ©(the kitchen).  This was decorated festively with dinosaur partyware and matching balloons and streamers.  A large "menu" was posted on the wall above the buffet table which listed the items served:  Brontosaurus burgers, Dino dogs(hot dogs), Brachio beans(baked beans), Fossil fries(potato chips), prehistoric pretzels, deviled dino eggs, Herbivore Delight(fruit and veggie tray), and candied dinosaur eggs(Jell-O Jiggler eggs with candy dinosaurs inside). 

The cake was a 3-dimensional Stegosaurus curled up for a nap.  I cut a 12 inch round cake in half and stacked them together standing on the cut side for the body.  I cut a quarter moon shape from a 10 inch round cake for the tail, and used the remaining cake to cut out rectangle-like shapes for the legs and triangles for the spikes on its back. I used icing to attach these to the body. Using the Wilton Easter egg cupcake pan, I fashioned its head from an egg shaped cake. While the kids were eating, I returned to the "quarry" and buried 250 dinosaur novelties(again purchased from OTC) -- mini dinosaurs, stickers, rubber stamps, finger puppets, etc. 

After lunch, each child was given a bag to store their finds and allowed to dig up the goodies.  These served as party favors.  We then retired to the Allosaurus Lounge(our family room), decorated with rocks and vines(both made from brown wrapping paper), large leaves and dinosaur cut outs, where my son opened his presents.  Each child was given a small "present" to open while he opened his gifts -- a candy-filled dinosaur Pez dispenser(available from OTC).  The children had a wonderful time, gained a little more knowledge, and I hoped found learning could be fun in the process.

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