Kids' summer activity: frozen plastic dinosaurs

Jennifer Perkins on Naughty Secretary Club has a great idea for spring/summer fun with your kids: freeze a bag of dinosaur toys in a block of ice and then stage a sunny-day excavation:

The hardest part about this activity was finding the room in my freezer. It works best if you freeze in batches. The plastic dinosaurs will float to the top if you try and freeze the whole tub at once. I added a little blue food coloring to my water for extra excitement... Tallulah soon discovered that water was the best tool of all for freeing her dinosaurs from their icy prison. We had chats about paleontology, melting ice, cold vs. hot - many a good lesson can be learned with this activity.

Naughty Secretary Club: Spring Break Fun with the Kiddlets - Excavating Dinosaurs from Ice (via Super Punch)


  1. My brother and I used to do this all the time when we were kids back in the 70’s. Great fun — you can chip them out with spoons and butter knives or use a hose or faucet to melt ’em out with water. G.I. Joe would find a frozen dinosaur, sometimes floating in a creek, which would inevitably escape and attack him, causing all kinds of fun havok. I still have a lot of the old dinosaur toys (some with butter knife scratches), they now live in the potted plants in my apartment. The one in the photo above looks a lot like the T-Rexes we used to use!

  2. Now, that scenario just reminds me of John Carpenter’s “The Thing” and I’m all creeped out by it. 

  3. For added realism: smash up all the dinosaurs into crumbs, jumble them up, and then only throw a sprinkling of the resulting mess into the ice mix.

    Or, for Jesus Camp organizers who need to plan some activities: chuck some little toy men in with them.

  4. This story reminded me of my childhood in the early 1980s. After seeing “Empire Strikes Back”, I started putting my Kenner Han Solo action figure in glass of water and freezing him in “carbon-might”. — good times. 

    1.  Similarly, I remember other another character–the Emperor perhaps–arriving with a shallow plastic blow-molded insert that I would fill and freeze. And sometimes I’d freeze it with orange juice (or maybe five alive!) for a treat. I couldn’t tell you why, but I’m sure it made sense as a kid.

  5. Brilliant! I’ve been buying kits of excavatable dinosaur bones for the nieces&nephews. None came with a real hammer; you have to use a fist-sized wood block or a solid small water glass to bang the plastic butterknife chisel. One set’s matrix was too hard, we chiseled away for two weeks. One set didn’t offer as many learning opportunities because its plaster of paris could be crumbled away by hand in one hour. (Though if you don’t get all the white out of the joints, it rehardens and the limbs break off when the kids play with the articulated skelingtons.) Ice is a great idea.

  6. I wonder how long it’ll take for the young boys to pee onto the ice so as to ‘excavate’ the dinosaurs.

  7. Why thank you kind folks of Boing Boing for the shout out.  I think I am the only child of the 70’s who didn’t freeze their own toys.  Apparently this brings back a lot of fond memories for people.  I did freeze a few bras at sleepovers.  Does that count? Oh and Paul I now have a son so my guess is by next summer urine will be labeled an excavating tool :)

    1. Likely if you leave them alone long enough, they’ll see from how far away they can do the ‘excavation’.

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