Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Salt Clay Dinosaur Bones

We just couldn't leave the Montana Dinosaur Trail behind without a parting craft. With inspiration from the Klutz book Create Anything With Clay, by Sherri Haab and Laura Torres, we decided to make some more fossils (this time a twice baked variety).

We started by mixing together a couple of batches of salt clay. For each batch, we used: 1 cup of flour, 3/4 cup of salt, 1/2 cup of water and 1/4 cup of oil. We set one batch aside for the second part of our project.

We molded the first batch into a variety of dinosaur bone shapes, allowing our imaginations, more than actual fossils, to guide us for this step. Then, we baked our "bones" for about an hour, at 300 degrees Fahrenheit. While we waited for them to bake, we read an assortment of dinosaur stories gathered from our local library.

We let the bones cool, and prepared the second batch of clay, adding some dry ground coffee to the mixture. We've done something similar to this before, but with used grounds. This time we didn't want the extra moisture, so I sacrificed a few tablespoons of my Folgers.

Then, we pressed blobs of the coffee clay out flat on the baking pan. Each child took an some of the bones, and pressed them into the the flattened clay. Then we baked the whole lot a second time (again for about an hour, at 300 degrees Fahrenheit). While they were still hot, I pushed a nail through, near the top, to make a hole for hanging. Eventually, I may add a coating of lacquer, for strength and protection, but that will have to wait for a day when it's not raining, so I can spray the smelly stuff outside.

For now, the kids have homemade souvenirs to add to their bits of shell and dinosaur bones from the trail, and a few more dinosaur memories to frame the experience.

It's great to be a homeschooler.

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