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Creating Dough Sculptures


Two sessions may be required if you wish to have children help make the modeling dough. Otherwise, make dough ahead of time and have children add food colors before sculpting their dinosaurs.
  • Reading Is Fundamental, written by Sue McCleaf Nespeca and Joan Reeve
  • Arts and Crafts
    • 1-2
    • 3-5
  • Multiple
  • Indoor
  • Play

Materials: How Do Dinosaurs Get Well Soon? by Jane Yolen, Illustrated by Mark Teague; How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night? by Jane Yolen, Illustrated by Mark Teague; 1 cup flour; 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil; 2/3 cup water; 4 tablespoons of salt; 2 teaspoons of cream of tartar; Saucepan Spoon Food colors or several fruit-flavored gelatin packs (adds an extra sensory element); Placemats or plastic table cloth; Damp cloths or sponges for hand clean-up (Adjust recipe quantity according to the number of children.)

Time Required: 45 minutes

Set up Cover the table with a plastic table cloth or provide one old plastic place mat for each child. Prepare the dough ahead of time unless you have the time to prepare the dough with the children's help, and then read the stories while the dough is cooling. Directions Prepare the dough with the children's help if time permits, allowing them to measure and mix the first five ingredients together. If you only have 45 minutes, prepare the dough ahead of time. Share two stories about dinosaurs illustrated by Mark Teague and written by Jane Yolen: How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night? and How Do Dinosaurs Get Well Soon? Both display very large pictures of dinosaurs, and each double-page spread has the name of the dinosaur hidden somewhere on the page. Allow time for the children to see the books close up to find the dinosaur names. When the dough is cool, have children knead it and divide it into sections and add one food color or tablespoon of colored gelatin to the center of each part of dough, and then knead it to mix that color. Let the children sculpt their own dinosaur, prehistoric creature, or dinosaur egg in a nest. Store leftovers in an airtight container or a sealed plastic bag. This dough can be reused for at least a year. You may also want to... Read aloud books on subjects of interest to children. Reading aloud daily can be a fun family activity if the subject matter holds strong interest. Many children love dinosaurs and there is a wealth of dinosaur books to explore. Share books or lists (which you supply)I that include pronunciation guides dinosaur names. Children enjoy learning multi-syllabic words, and can be encouraged to clap out the syllables. This leads to phonemic awareness, a valuable skill for proficient reading. Make a batch of dough at home and keep it on hand for childrens and parents sculptures inspired by the books they share. Community Connection Take students to a local museum that houses dinosaur bones or fossils, if available. If not, visit a local history museum and see how far back in history they have records of life in the area. How long is this after the dinosaur era? Do areas in the community have clay soils? Allow the children to contrast natural clays properties with that of the homemade dough. Invite a local health worker to discuss how to get and stay well, as in the second Yolen title listed above. Adaptations Consult the book Dinomania: Things to Do with Dinosaurs by Mick Manning and Brita Granstrom for ideas on: how to make a dinosaur mobile and dinosaur costumes; how to play dinosaur games; how to excavate your own dinosaur fossils; how to put on a dinosaur play; how to make your own dinosaur video; and even how to make edible dinosaur dung! For dinosaur dances, consult the musical recordings below and for steps [Im not sure what "steps" means-as in dance steps? If this is the case, does "dances" really mean "songs" earlier in the sentence?], see Picture Books Plus: 100 Extension Activities in Art, Drama, Music, Math and Science. (See below).

Related Resources

Web Sites
A great Web site on dinosaurs for young children 

Barton, Byron. Bones, Bones, Dinosaur Bones. HarperCollins, 1990.
Kerley, Barbara. The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins. Scholastic, 2001. Brian Selznick, Illustrator.
Manning, Mick and Brita Granstrom. DinoMania: Things to Do With Dinosaurs. Holiday House, 2001.
Mitton, Tony. Dinosaurumpus. Orchard, 2003. Guy Parker-Rees, Illustrator.
Shields, Carol Diggory. Saturday Night at the Dinosaur Stomp. Candlewick. 2002. Scott Nash, Illustrator.
Yolen, Jane. How Do Dinosaurs Get Well Soon? Blue Sky Press, 2001. Mark Teague, Illustrator.
Yolen, Jane. How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night? Blue Sky Press, 2003. Mark Teague, Illustrator.

Musical Recordings
Beall, Pamela Conn and Susan Hagen Nipp. Wee Sing Dinosaurs. Price, Stern, Sloan, 1991.
Murphy, Jane, and Dennis Buck. Once Upon a Dinosaur. Kimbo, 1987.

* Some of the above description for this activity is from Picture Books Plus: 100 Extension Activities in Art, Drama, Music, Math and Science, written by Sue McCleaf Nespeca and Joan B. Reeve. 2003 by the American Library Association.

Creating Dough Sculptures