May 19, 2012

Surprise Rocks {& a Dinosaur Dig}


This project always makes me smile. 

Each year with my little first graders, I do a dinosaur dig ... featuring these nifty little surprise rocks hiding dinosaurs inside.  And they love it!  They think it's so cool to pretend to be paleontologists digging for fossils or dinosaur bones, never sure what they're going to find.

And these surprise rocks are truly so easy to make, the little bit of time invested in them is so, so worth the joy and fun they bring my students.  I would make these for them even if they took 100 times the effort!  Now, these are not edible ... it's the first non-edible recipe I'm posting, but they're so fun I hoped you wouldn't mind.

With just a little bit of sand, a bit of flour and water, some leftover coffee grounds, and a package or two of plastic dinosaurs (or other surprise!) from the dollar store, you can have yourself a batch of surprise rocks.  And here's how.

Start by combining some sand, flour, coffee grounds, and water in a big bowl.  It will be hard to mix, but just get it started a little bit with a spoon.



Then, knead the mixture with your hands, just like you would if you were making bread dough. 

I recommend taking off any rings you're wearing for this step... unless you want someone to get a real surprise in their rock!



The mixture will come together nicely, and look like this after your kneading is done.


I use plastic dinosaurs that fit in the palm of my hand as the surprise.  You could use any other little trinket that wouldn't be harmed by a low temperature oven ... or, you could use something bigger than this but would need to adjust up the baking time of the rocks.


To make a rock,  grab a hunk of dough.  To cover the dinosaur in my hand in the photo above, I took a hunk about this big:


Flatten the dough out into a pancake ...


... that's about this thick:


Lay your surprise on the flattened dough pancake and fold half of the pancake over it.


Then continue to fold the dough pancake up over your surprise ...


... until it's all covered.  Gently press the seams together to seal your surprise in.


Place the rocks on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.


Finally, pop them in the oven for a while ... and they come out looking like this.  Surprise rocks!


For our dinosaur dig, I bury the surprise rocks in a little bit of sand in a plastic tub.  Each student then gets to pretend to be a paleontologist.  So cute!  They first look over the 'land,' scanning for an area that looks like it's a little different than the surrounding 'land.'  Once they've found potential dig spots, they use paint brushes to gently excavate their finds.


After they've got their finds excavated enough to be able to grab them with their fingers, they pick up a rock and clean it off with their brushes, inspecting it to predict what they may have found.  Their excitement builds ...


... until they're finally at a point where they can break their rocks open!  They give the rocks a big ol' squeeze ...


... and SURPRISE! ...  reveal what they've found.  T-Rexes and pterodactyls always get the most squeals. 

And, I can't say for sure ... I mean, I wouldn't really know ... but I think the adults usually have just as much fun breaking open the leftovers.


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Surprise Rocks
Source:  Adapted from somewhere a long, long time ago
Ingredients
2 c. sand
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. coffee grounds (leftover from brewing coffee in a coffee maker)
3/4 c. water + possibly 1/4 c. more


Directions
1.  Combine the sand, flour, coffee grounds, and 3/4 cup water in a large bowl.  Knead, as you would bread dough, until the mixture comes together into a workable dough.  Add the remaining 1/4 cup water, a little at at time, if needed.

2.  Take a small amount of dough (about the size of a golf ball), flatten it, and form it around your object.*

3.  Bake at 250 degrees for about 30 minutes, turning over after the first 10 minutes.  Store uncovered.

This recipe covers about 12 small dinosaurs.



*Note:  It's best if the dough is just thick enough to be workable in covering your surprise object, but not too thick.  If you make it thick, it'll take the rocks a long time to bake in the oven or the dough may not dry out enough at all.  For larger objects, you will need a larger amount of dough.  Large surprise rocks may require additional baking time.

Have fun and enjoy!




This post is linked with Sundae Scoop hosted by I {heart} Nap Time, Think Pink Sundays hosted by Flamingo Toes, Sunday Showcase Party hosted by Under the Table and Dreaming, The Cure for the Common Monday hosted by Lines Across, I Made It! Monday hosted by Ninth Street Notions, Craft and Tell hosted by Cherished Bliss, Make the Scene Monday hosted by Alderberry Hill, The Craftastic Link Party hosted by Sew Can Do, Trick or Treat Tuesday hosted by BruCrew Life, Open Call Tuesdays hosted by Salt Tree, Kids in the Kitchen hosted by Young Living Oil Lady, Tuesday Tutorials hosted by The Kurtz Corner, Whatever Goes Wednesday hosted by Someday Crafts, Show & Share hosted by Southern Lovely, It's a Keeper Thursday hosted by It's a Keeper, Share Your Creations hosted by Kristen's Creations, Kitchen Fun & Crafty Friday hosted by Kitchen Fun With My Three Sons, Inspiration Friday hosted by At the Picket Fence, Weekend Bloggy Reading hosted by Serenity Now, Strut Your Stuff Saturday hosted by Six Sisters' Stuff, Tutorials Tips and Tidbits hosted by Stone Gable.

33 comments:

  1. This is a very neat idea and looks like so much fun!

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  2. I love this and can't wait to do it with my boys this summer! I would love it if you would come and share it at my Summer Bucket List Link Party at
    http://www.missinformationblog.com/2012/05/my-little-chef.html

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  3. I love this! My kids would definitely love this! I'm going to have to add it to our list of things to do this summer...

    I'm your newest follower from the blog hop!

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    1. I'm glad you like what you see on my little corner of blogworld! Thanks so much for becoming a follower.

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  4. This is the cutest thing EVER!! I LOVE IT!! So glad that I found your site on Live. Laugh. Rowe. - now I'm following and will get all KINDS of great ideas... Would love for you to visit - stringtownhome.blogspot.com.

    Have a great week!
    -heather

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    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for the kind words, Heather! So glad you stopped by, and that you became a follower. These surprise rocks really are a whole lot of fun.

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  5. How fun! I've never seen this before! I noticed all the great recipes you have on your site as well and wanted to let you know I will be hosting "What's Cooking Wednesdays" I really hope you'll come by and link up! I'm a new follower regardless :)

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    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for the invite, Christine! Hope to see ya on Wednesdays.

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  6. This is a wonderful idea! I'm bookmarking it to do with my kids this summer! They are going to LOVE it!!!

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  7. What a great idea! Thanks for sharing!

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  8. What a cool idea! I'm saving this for when I have some older kids or to do with my niece and nephew.

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  9. This has to be one of the coolest ideas for kids! I love it! What a wonderful idea. I sure hope I can pin this to my homeschooling board on Pinterest. Moms will love it! Thank you so much for sharing with us at Kids in the Kitchen! We sure hope to see you again next week. Blessings

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    1. Thank you for your kind words, Carrie! Please feel free to Pin away! My students REALLY love this activity.

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  10. I think I found a new adventure for my girls, and the best part is that it still starts in the kitchen!

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  11. These are just too cute! Such a great idea and so creative. Thanks for sharing!

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  12. I must try this my boys will go nuts!

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  13. nice posting.. thanks for sharing.

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  14. Oh my goodness! This is the cutest idea! I am saving this for my "someday grandchildren". Thanks for bringing this creative idea to TUTORIALS TIPS AND TIDBITS!

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  15. Just made these with gluten-free flour/baking mix for my son's 6th BD party.

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  16. Thank you for such a wonderful idea!!! Can't wait to try it.

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  17. We actually did something similar with our third graders at school last week and they had such a great time!

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  18. Do you put the coffee grounds in for the specks or do they help hold the rock together?

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    1. Both ... they add the specks, and the moisture from the grounds gives some help in binding the dough.

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  19. Making these today for my daughter's dinosaur birthday party. Can't wait for her and her friends dig for these!

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    1. Oh, fun!! I hope they enjoy them. Thank you so much for stopping back by to let me know ... you made me smile.

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  20. This will be a great activity to do with my grandson on his visit. How far in advance can I make these? Thanks so much.

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    1. You can make them waaaaaaaaaay in advance ... like a couple of months, even, if you'd like. Enjoy!

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  21. I love it and so will my son he's 3 and loves dinos and calls himself a paleontologist, he can even name at least 20 of them. I can't wait to try it!! thank you

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  22. This is so awesome! Will definitely be doing this for my son and daughter's birthday party! I know I will try this either way, but wondering if any other tools will be needed for 2/3 year olds, as they aren't as strong as school aged children. Do these mostly just crumble fairly easily?

    thanks!

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    Replies
    1. They more break in big pieces than crumble. They break fairly easily, but may need just a tad of mom/dad help to get them started for 2/3 year olds. Enjoy!! {they're so fun}

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