Idea No.


Fossil Party -5yr- Safety Googles and Paint Brushes



April 2004


Laura in Burlington Ontario Canada


Dinosaur Paleontologist

Fossil Party   Two years in a row my son (5,6) wanted a digging party.

The first year we made a treasure chest from a cardboard office paper box that we papier mached a lid and painted wood-grained brown with black strips and gold glitter "brass" rivets.  We duct taped the lid at the back to make a hinge and painted the tape to match the chest.  We filled the chest with loot boxes.  These were mini-wooden treasure chests filled with chocolate coins, polished rocks, candy and costume jewellery and such, all purchased at dollar stores and hobby stores.  To find the chest, the kids had to become archaeologists/paleontologists by digging in our over-sized sandbox.  They were given safety goggles and paintbrushes as tools.  Buried in the box were shells, home-made "fossils' (plaster of paris, sand and tempera paint mixed thick with a bit of water and pressed with shells, plastic dinos, plastic bugs, etc.), polished rocks, sterilized food bones, etc. 

Also, there was a home-made treasure map. Once the kids had had their fill of digging, we read the map together.  It led to several "clues" hidden around the yard.  Each clue was written in rhyme, with old-fashioned calligraphy and spelling on paper that I aged by brushing with coffee and carefully burning the edges.  The final clue led to the treasure chest.

The cake was a flat sheet cake with a loaf-pan cake on top.  I iced the bottom half "water" and half deserted island using coloured blue icing, grahan crumb "sand", chololatee crumb "dirt" and plastic trees.  The loaf cake was a treasure chest.  I cut off the "lid" and iced the whole thing with chocolate chips melted with a bit of milk.  Dark chocolate was melted to make the chest straps. Between the lid and the chest I stuffed chocolate coins, candy necklaces and crushed hard candy "jewels".  We had a lot of free  play, but also played "blind man's bluff" and decorated the wooden treasure chests with jewelled stickers.

For the next party, we decided to move more into the paleontology theme.  We decorated the upstairs for the cenozoic era. We make a "palm" tree out of an old carpet tube help up with a Christmas tree stand.  We cut out leaves from a green garbage bag and mounted them on bendy-straws so they would stick out a bit, then fastened them to the top of the tube.  We had lots of used packing paper which we turned inside out and wrapped the trunk.  We also used the packing paper to make a 18' vine.  It was just twisted paper with construction paper leaves fastened here and there. 

We attached lengths of green crepe streamers to the ceiling and meant to put out a couple of bowls of dry ice in water to give a steamy effect.  The corner of the room became a cave in which the kids could make cave drawings on paper affixed to the walls while we listened to "Dino Swing" as everyone arrived. When everyone was here, half the kids made broken pasta fossil pictures (break up different pasta shapes and the kids glue these on construction paper in fossil patterns as if they are bones) while the others went hunting for dinosaur eggs.  The dinosaur eggs were made from the "Kid's Concoctions" treasure stone recipe which includes used coffee grinds, salt, flour, sand , and water, and to make them a bit more challengine, I added a small amount of plaster of paris.  I moulded this around tiny plastic dinosaur "babies". 

When they found an egg, they went to our "lab" to break them open with toy hammers and chisels (we had them from fossil kits).  Hand-sized rocks also work well, and of course, the kids all wore safety goggles.  When the dinos were hatched, the kids brought them to the plaster table to make plaster casts (fossils) of them.  The groups then traded off so everyone could do both parts. We then played "diplodicus, diplodicus, T-rex" (duck, duck, goose) and when the pizza was late, we threw together a dinosaur egg-hatching game in shech we stuffed small plastic dinos into ballons then blew up these "dino eggs".  The kids played musical eggs with them.  When the music stopped they had to try and hatch an egg. 

As soon as one popped, the popper could keep the dino and the music started again. The punch was cranberry juice, gingerale, iced tea powder, and soda water with amber bug ice cubes.  I had purchased small plastic insects to melt into glycerine soap to look like bugs trapped in amber, but the soap kept burning, so I washed them and frose them into pear juice ice cubes instead.  Each child received one in their drink. The table cloth was kraft paper with dinos stamped on it from a dollar-store kit I found.  

The volcano cake was made from chocolate, vanilla and cookies and cream ice cream.  I moulded it in layers into a salad bowl and an angel food pan, making sure the chocolate layer was on the outside.  I first softened the cholcolate and covers the sides of the container, then frose it hard and repeatead with the other flavours.  The containers were emptied and stacked with the angel food on top.  Extra chocolate icecream was used to fill the gaps.  the whole thing was sprinked with chocolate Ovaltine powder, then topped with home made hot fudge sauce (The Joy of Cooking), crushed chocolate cookies, pureed strawberry and apricot jams (for lava) and marshmallow cream for steam clouds at the top.  In the milddle I was going to put a sparkler, but they weren't recommended for indoor use, so I found a fibr optic flashlight at a local party supple store and used that along with 6 regular birthday canles on top. 

After the food we played hot lava bomb (hot potato).  I made a paper mache ball painted fire red, as well as a paper mache volcano (used bristol board to make a cone and coated it with paper mache).  Over the paint I brushed on diluted school glue to make it shiny and durable. Up the centre of the volcan I put a bottle (olive oil bottle in this case) and a small yogurt container with a hole cut in the bottom through witch the top of the bottle fit.  I sealed the gap around the bottle, and also the gap between the yogurt contaier and the volcano with red modelling clay.  Using a funnel, I poured in about 1/2 cup of baking soda, and a few drops each of dish detergent and red food colouring. I made some slips of paper with dinosaur actions, such as "stomp like a diplodicus", "explode like a volcano", "roar like an apatosaurus", etc.  I attached these to red and orange tissue paper "flames" and put them into the yogurt container so that they stuck out like flames.  

We played Jack Grunsky's "Dino Rap" and when the music stopped, the child with the lava bomb had to pull out a flame and do as it said.  When all the flames were pulled out, the kids took turns exploding the volcano with vinegar from a squirt bottle.  The vinegar was carefull measured to ensure that the catch-pan would not overflow. After that we unwrapped gifts and gave out loot eggs.  These were 6" plastic Easter (dino) eggs stuffed with dinosaur and fossil treats from the dollar store and the Bulk Barn. These included gummy dinos, chocolate eggs, candy rocks, plastic cards that you snap apart to make a dino model, dino magnets, pocket magnetc games (not part of the theme), and tiny capsules that when put into water grow into dinosaurs.

Another idea we vetoed due to weather was to have our garden soil delivered into a huge mound and use this as a large volcano to explode with vinegar and baking soda. None of this was particularly expensive; each party cost about $50 to put together, maybe less.

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