Calling all dinosaur lovers! This engaging sensory bin number and letter sort will make working on beginning letter recognition feel like play time.
*Pair this with our popular Alphabet Centers!
Dinosaur Dig Number and Letter Sort
I still have a lot to learn when it comes to dinosaurs. I never really understood how fossil excavation works. How do scientists know where to dig? Then what happens? And how on earth do they classify and reconstruct all the bits and pieces?
I learned that paleontologists find most dinosaur fossils in desert areas that have outcroppings of sedimentary rock. When they find fossils, they protect them with plaster, and then transport them back to a laboratory to carefully clean and analyze them.
This sensory bin imitates that laboratory. I didn’t want to mess with plaster though (if you do, this post tells you how). To get the look of desert sand I used whole wheat flour made into a crumbly salt dough. It clung together just enough to form a covering for each “fossil.”
This recipe makes enough dough for one round of play. If you use a large cookie sheet you could double the batch.
Also, it’s possible to use the dough over and over. Once the kids remove all the fossils, you can add water back to the dough and repeat the process again.
- 8-10 printed “fossils” laminated and cut out (at the end of the post)
- 1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
- 1/2 Cup Salt
- 1/3 Cup water
- Cookie sheet or shallow baking pan
- Sensory bin (I use a plastic dishpan)
1. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Combine the flour and salt in a medium bowl. Then add the water and mix well. The dough should be dry and crumbly but hold together some when you squeeze it.
3. Pat out half the dough onto a cookie sheet.
4. Lay the laminated “fossils” on top of the dough.
5. Then, spread the rest of the dough on top of the “fossils”, and then press the dough down firmly with your hands.
6. Turn the oven OFF.
7. Bake (if you can call it that) with the oven OFF for at least 2 hours. If you’re forgetful like me, you might want to leave yourself a little note that there’s something in the oven (so you don’t forget and turn it on to 400 to preheat for a pizza or something!)
8. Remove the pan from the oven and use a spatula to transfer the “fossils” to a sensory bin.
Students will pretend to excavate the fossils, and then classify them as uppercase letters, lowercase letters, or numbers.
They can use the back of a paintbrush or other small plastic tool to crack open the dough and then brush the crumbs away with the brush end.
*Related Resource: Print and Play Number Centers
Once they’ve excavated each fossil, they’ll classify them not into dinosaur species, but instead into letters and numbers.
The print is purposely small so they can use a magnifying glass to see them better – just like a real paleontologist.
Grab Your Printables
Ready to have fun with this Dinosaur Dig Number and Letter Sort? Grab your copy of the printables by clicking the blue button below.
Then, for more dinosaur fun, hop over and try our Dinosaur Alphabet Sensory Bottle!