Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A Dinosaur Train Birthday Party - The Dinosaur and Egg Hunt

A Dinosaur Train themed Birthday Party for my son's 4th Birthday was something I wanted my son to enjoy and remember.  I love to see the excitement of adventure and the amazement of discovery as children experience the world around them.  Coupled with nurturing curiosity, I am supporting the enjoyment of learning and a Dinosaur Train themed party certainly opens all doors to fulfil these three things with the children and make a party memorable.  I realise each child will take away their own memories, we just wanted them to be exciting, amazing and fun.

On my favourite internet resource, pinterest, Ben and I saw various recipes for eggs and what a brilliant idea.  The eggs needed Mum's (so we had a dinosaur and egg hunt) and there is no point having dinosaurs if you don't know a little about them (so information cards were a must).   I wanted the eggs to fizz, just like a scientist dissolving the limestone away from the dinosaur bone.  So the idea evolved...

We have a wonderful sensory, interactive garden and this was the purrrfect place to host hands on learning.  
Our garden set for the dinosaur and egg hunt.
Searching for dinosaurs and eggs in a dinosaur garden...

Each child had to choose a dinosaur from a number of information/picture cards.  Once chosen, the dinosaur and corresponding egg had to be found. To make it a little easier for the children, I put a coloured ribbon on each dinosaur that matched the colour of the information card and egg. 

I made up information cards (these were for the adults, so they can read the cards and both learn about their chosen dinosaur with their child) for each of the Dinosaur species I hid in the garden. The information cards were double sided and were sourced from the PBS kids site and all I did was print them and mount the information sheet on a piece of card.  The PBS kids Dinosaur Train site is one of my son's favourite internet sites, if not his favourite.  He love to play the games and look at the images of the dinosaurs and together we talk about their diet and structure.  A truly WONDERFUL kids (and adults) site.
A hiding Utahraptor and egg
So with card in hand, the children made their way to the garden, looked for and found their dinosaur with coordinating ribbon, and coloured egg.  Isn't this the most gorgeous picture. 

and look at this - yes it was raining, but we made the most and had fun anyway...

I then wanted to extend discovery and learning...I put baby/miniature dinosaurs of the same species as the larger ones in each egg. 

Once found, the children had to crack open the eggs and wash the fossil away from the miniature dinosaur with a brush..That is where the owwwwwws and ahhhhhhs began.
The eggs contain sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and citric acid.  When added to a 50:50 solution of vinegar and water, there is LOTS of fizzing, so much so it looked like the water was boiling.  SO COOL and SO NOISY  
 The water and vinegar baths boiled with egg pieces and the miniature dinosaurs, fizzing as they were being busily washed and exposed to daylight again.  
What a great shot by Sally / Matt capturing the fun
The eggs varied in hardness, due to the recipe differences as I tried to master the purrrfect mix.  They all fizzed but this one was very hard...
The eggs contain sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and citric acid.  When added to a solution of 1L vinegar and 2L water, there is LOTS of fizzing.  This egg was hard as cement so took awhile to soften but it fizzed continually.

Each child, as part as their thank you gifts, received a card, a dinosaur and the miniature dinosaur they hatched themselves.

 I hear you asking how I got the dinosaurs in fizzing eggs - I tried so many recipes, one for each colour and some were done two and three times.  On my pinterest board, you will see many links to various recipes, but let me share a few hiccups - the sodium bicarb, citric acid and oil did not mould and fell apart really easily.  The fizz factor was not fantastic and I can only imagine it was because oil and water don't mix...  I then added flour to the mix and that is when I got some shape and hardness.  I found the order of adding ingredients crucial because the citric acid reacts with water, so I had a batch that fizzed fantastically before I even got to mould the clay around the miniature dinosaur.  Add too much flour and they were like cement and fizzed minimally, too little and the eggs went the green ones that just did not make it.  The presence of citric acid was essential as it gave a HUGE fizz ... boiled the water as you can see in the picture below - and that is what I was chasing.
Add the eggs to a mix of vinegar and water and watch the water BOIL
To make your own you will need:
  • 2 mixing bowls
  • Small hard plastic Dinosaurs
  • Baking Soda/ sodium bicarbonate - lots and lots
  • Oil (we used olive oil and tried coconut oil)
  • Citric Acid
  • Plain Flour
  • Food colouring
  1. Add 1 cup baking soda and 1/2 cup of flour to a mixing bowl and add about 2-4 drops of food coloring to 2 tsp water, using your fingers break up and spread the coloring throughout the powders until it is uniformly coloured.  I added salt but this seemed to make no difference, we also added sand and dirt but all this did was make the eggs more fragile and time was running short so I did not play too much more.
  2. Mix 2 Tbsp of citric acid with 2 tsp of oil (we used olive oil and went to coconut oil simply for a more pleasant smell) and add to your coloured powdered mixture and mix well. You may see a small amount of fizzing and/or feel the mixture getting cold - this is because citric acid, water, and baking soda will react together and there is a small amount of water in the colored baking soda. 
  3. Mould around your dinosaur and shape with hands into an egg shape.  Leave to dry over night in a warm but dry room.
  4. On the day add vinegar and water to a large bowl and place the cracked eggs into the solution, watch the eyes light up as the water boils and a small dinosaur is revealed.
This basic recipe is from "Fun at Home with Kids" and mixed with the hardness of  flour as used in "Summer Camp's" recipe, I came up with this but it is not fail proof.  Each time I thought I mastered it, the morning would reveal a blob and not a nicely shaped egg.  But we got there in the end and the children had so much fun... especially Ben as he got to play with each flop

A big thank you to the creators of pinterest and Rachael for introducing me to it and those that contribute to it of course (although my husband might not be so thankful) and the Jim Henson crew for not only having a wonderfully educational and fun show "The Dinosaur Train", but for the information and games on their web site that is free to access and enrich children's learning.

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