This activity is one that we actually did a few months ago, towards the end of Autumn when our conkers were still shiny and new- but you don’t need to use conkers. Any kind of sensory material for your dinosaur land is fine- cereal, moon sand, sand, rainbow rice, etc. The important element in this activity is the volcano and for that you need shaving foam, vinegar and bicarbonate of soda. And lots of imagination! Which is what I’m going to ask you, dear reader to employ too. The photos on this post are not amazing. They were taken with my iphone since my camera was missing on this day, and so the quality is not amazing. I’ve done what I can and I hope you can see what fun we had!
Messy dinosaur play with exploding volcano!
To set up this activity we arranged our conkers as the base for our dino land. The conkers were a totally different material in this kind of play and The Preschooler loved having them there. They made the terrain very rocky! We also used a bright red silicone jelly mould as our volcano- we’d already used this for the blancmanche volcano at his 3rd birthday party so it was familiar to him. We set up the dinosaur figures and added shaving foam to the mould so that it looked really volcanic! The Preschooler loved being in charge of set up and it was lovely to see his enthusiasm growing as he did.
Next, we indulged in a little sensory play. The shaving foam is always a big hit with both The Preschooler and The Toddler so they were more than happy to play like this for a while.
But what I really wanted to try was the exploding volcano! This was so simple to do. We topped up the volcano with more shaving foam, tipped in some bicarbonate of soda (about a table spoon) then added vinegar. The children were delighted when it started to fizz, and to flow over and down the sides “like a real volcano!” We still need to perfect the ratios for the ultimate volcano I think, and I’ve heard that popping candy makes a great addition as you then get crackling sounds too. But for a first attempt we were very impressed!
The children played for a while, adding more little piles of bicarb and splashes of vinegar, until the foam began to dissolve and we decided it was time to tidy up… then The Preschooler found some toy cars and made a wonderful observation. The Tuff Spot looked like a snowy road! It even sounded like that too, as the bicarb had left a gritty substance that crackled under the car’s wheels.
The Preschooler made tracks and patterns in the ‘snow’ and our play was instantly extended- from exploding volcanoes to snowy tracks! Of course this was the perfect opportunity to practise some mark making and name writing practise and a lovely example of how children’s imaginations can lead you anywhere!