When it comes to dinosaurs, a lot is left to the imagination. Most of what we know about dinosaurs are from the fossils of bones, eggs, and markings found mostly in sedimentary rocks. Therefore, making dinosaur fossils is an important lesson in our dinosaur camp (use BETTY123 to get $7 off).
However, fossils take a long time to form. We are speeding up the process today and creating our own fossils in under two hours using salt dough.
DIY Dinosaur Fossils for Kids
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup salt
- 1 cup water
- Plastic dinosaurs
- Mixing bowl
- Circle cookie cutter or glass
- Optional: parchment paper
- Optional: brown acrylic paint
- Optional: paintbrush
- Combine salt and flour in the mixing bowl.
- Add the water a little at a time, stirring as you go. Continue until you achieve a dough-like consistency. If you add too much water, you can always add a little bit more flour.
- Knead the dough with a spoon until it comes off the sides of the bowl. Then use your hands to knead the dough for at least another 5 minutes.
- Roll the salt dough to approximately ¼ – ½ inch thick.
- Optional: I placed the salt dough in between two pieces of parchment paper and rolled on top of the paper to avoid any sticking. I also gave my kids pieces of parchment paper to work on so the salt dough doesn’t stick to the table.
- Use the circle cookie cutter or glass to cut out circles of the dough.
- Press the plastic dinosaurs into the dough. Tip: Some dinosaur toys are curved to show the dinosaurs twisting their heads or tails. Therefore, if you just press the toys straight down, the heads or tails will make too shallow of an impression. You may need to press the heads and tails of the dinosaur toys into the salt dough after making the initial impression.
- Repeat step #6-7 until you run out of space to cut out circles on the dough.
- You can gather all the leftover dough and roll it out again and repeat steps #4-7 and continue to use the leftover dough until it’s all gone.
- Bake at 200 degrees F until your fossils are dry. It will take about 2 hours, depending on how wet your dough is.
- Optional: Paint the dinosaur impressions with brown acrylic paint to make the dinosaur stand out!
My kids enjoyed making the salt dough as much as pressing the dinosaurs to make fossils. It turned out to be a great sensory activity as they kneaded the dough (probably for way too long but hey, they were having fun) and rolled it out. We did end up with some thicker fossils than others, but that’s okay. As long as the kids had fun and learned from this activity!
Stamping the dinosaurs into the salt dough was the best part. The kids also wanted to press the dinosaurs’ appendages in the salt dough as well since there was room.
When the fossils finished baking and cooled down, my kids ran their fingers in the dinosaur impressions and felt the different textures of each dinosaur. They also closed their eyes and tried to guess the dinosaur just by touching the outline of the dinosaurs on the fossils.
What are fossils exactly? A fossil is any preserved remains, impressions, or trace of animals, plants, and other organisms.
As we discovered in the dinosaur footprint cookies, even the tracks the dinosaurs made are considered fossils. In fact, did you know that even preserved waste is a type of fossil? Ew, but also interesting.
Final Thoughts on Salt Dough Dinosaur Fossils
If you have younger kids, you do want to be careful that they don’t try and eat the salt dough coming out of the oven. Since we just did the dinosaur footprint cookies a couple of days ago, my daughter thought we were making cookies again and asked to eat the fossils. That was a hard no from mama.
If you liked this activity, make sure to check out Mom for All Season’s summer camp! We used it as our backbone (haha no pun intended) for our summer activities this year and the salt dough fossils activity was part of the dinosaur week. For being my reader, you can get $7 off with the code BETTY123.