Originally this activity was supposed to be about dinosaurs. But it grew a bit as I was putting it together. Before I knew it we were talking about animal anatomy and food sources as well.
I used a larger sensory bin than I usually do. This one was about 18 inches by about 3 feet in floor space. I filled it with coconut fiber. Coconut fiber can be found in most major pet shops in the reptile department. It can be purchased loose, or in dehydrated bricks. I prefer to buy the bricks because you get more bang for your buck. Below is an image that shows 1 brick of coconut fiber next to a handful of loose coconut fiber.
We happened to have coconut fiber on hand because we use it for several of our family’s pets. In lieu of coconut fiber, you could also use potting soil or, for a taste-friendly option, brown sugar.
This activity did require a bit of forethought because we had to save the bones from a couple of our family dinners. After having turkey (Thanksgiving) and pork ribs (Christmas), we cleaned all the meat off the bones, boiled the bones, and set them aside for this activity.
First we filled the bin with coconut fiber, then buried all the bones except two in the bin. Next we set two bowls on either side of the bin, one with a pig bone in it and the other with a turkey bone in it. In the middle we put a couple paint brushes.
I encouraged LittleMan and SunnyGirl to dig up the bones gently, using the brushes to clean off the bones that they found. Much the same way that paleontologists dig up dinosaur bones carefully, so as not to damage them.
Then they examined the bones and determined which animal it belonged to. This prompted an unexpected discussion on the way the bones fit together to form the anatomy of the animal. As usual, LittleMan made predictions about the animal’s diet and habits based on it’s physical traits. We also had a short conversation about where our meat comes from. It was an excellent opportunity to remind the children about the importance of farms as well as the need to be conscientious about the treatment that animals face before becoming our food.
I loved the discussions that took place during this activity, but of course the most fun part of sensory play is always getting messy.
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