Monday, June 13, 2011

Faux-fossil Memory Game

I love playing homemade games. It feels organic and old fashioned, and I like it. My kids like it too - there's a satisfaction in knowing they're playing with something they made, not a kid working in a sweatshop in some foreign country.

This is a project I made up myself. We do a lot of fun projects that I read about in books and online, but it's not often I come up with something on my own that I think is worth sharing. Enjoy!

Today's project: Fossil Memory

We started with homemade playdough, colored with Kool-Aid.

2 cups flour
2 cups salt
2 Tbsp cream of tartar
2 cups water
Kool-aid packets

Mix together all the ingredients except the Kool-aid. Add more water or flour as you go, you want it to be the consistency of play dough. Divide the dough into six balls - if you have six colors of Kool-Aid. Knead the Kool-Aid into the dough. Best do this outside - the smell of the Kool-Aid gave us headaches after awhile. You could also use food coloring, and avoid the headache.

Put your dough in plastic bags and set aside while you...

Go on a nature walk.

Check out your back yard, or the neighborhood, a park, or wherever. Add interesting things to your basket as you go, so long as they are less than 2" in diameter. We ended up with flowers, leaves, rocks, shells from our collection, a pine cone, a piece of bark, etc. We made ten sets of memory stones, but I suggest finding more than ten things - some don't make as nice of prints as you'll hope.

Bring your nature back to the table, and divide each color of dough into four equal pieces. Roll them into balls, then smash them down so they look like flat stones. In each piece, press one of your nature objects, leaving a "fossil" imprint. Make two of each print, but make them on different colors. Otherwise it's too easy to match them!

Let the "fossils" dry all day (and all night, if needed.) Be sure to turn them every so often so both sides are getting air.

Then, lay them out in a square and take turns trying to match fossils.

Fun stuff, huh?

Other thoughts and ideas:

If you need it to be more difficult, make them all the same color. This difficulty level is perfect for my three year old, a little to easy for the eight year old.

Consider making a set for each season, based on the changes you see in nature. Fall would be great for harvested veggie bits, seed pods, etc. Winter has acorns and feathers and berries, and spring is full of all kinds of natural bits.

Or, make a set for different areas. This project would travel nicely, and I look forward to making a set of stones the next time we go camping. Just add water, find nature, and away you go!

The dough would roll out nicely into a sort of plaque, where kids could press all the little bits of nature they come across and make a nice decoration for a table top or a wall.

Have fun!


Wendy said...

oh my gosh - these are beautiful pieces!

The Homeschool Club said...

Wanted to let you know this fabulous fun activity was featured on today's Homeschool Club Daily!