Try this activity in your sensory table for your dinosaur fans! In containers of various sizes, freeze sand, shells, plastic dinosaurs, and or plastic bones in water. (If your items tend to float, freeze the container half full with the water and the items. Once it’s frozen, and holding the items in place, you can fill the container the rest of the way with water and freeze again.)
Place these prehistoric ice cubes in your sensory bin alone or with sand. You can also bury them in the sand for even more fun! Add containers of warm water with droppers or larger containers with warm water that the ice cubes can be submerged in.
Children will experiment with a variety of ways of removing the ice (chipping it away, using heat from their hands, the warm water in the bin, or even moving the ice cube to a sink). As they do so, they will also notice a change in textures and patterns in the ice as it melts. This activity also gives them first hand experience with phases of matter and the properties of water. You may even tie this activity in with the hypothesis that dinosaurs may have become extinct because the earth became too cold. This science/sensory activity can also be extended into a language activity as you engage the children in discussion about their activity, and incorporate terms like “melt”, “liquid”, “solid”, “frozen”, and “thaw”. Additionally, using tools such as tweezers and droppers build fine motor skills necessary for writing. Your preschool paleontologists will be building skills while freeing the frozen dinosaurs!