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Digging In The Past

Elective Adventure

Dinosaurs and other giant creatures lived and died out millions of years ago, so thankfully you won’t run into one on a walk.  A scientist who studies dinosaurs is called a paleontologist (pa-le-on-to-lo-gist).  They study dinosaur bones and fossils to learn more about their habits, the food they ate, and their size. During this Adventure, you will match dinosaurs to their names, and you’ll use your imagination to create your own dinosaur.

Requirements

Play a dinosaur game that shows what you know about them.
Dino Detective
LocationIndoor
Energy 1
Supply List2
Prep Time2

Play a dinosaur identification game.

  • Dino Cards found in Additional Resources 
  • Cardstock 
  • Printer  
  • Wolf handbook 

Before the meeting:

  1. Print and cut out 1 set of Dino Cards on cardstock. Put the picture and the fun facts together in the deck.  The picture will be used to the Cub Scouts.  The fun facts are for you.
  2. Review the cards and become familiar with the different types of dinosaurs.

During the meeting:

  1. Gather Cub Scouts with their Wolf handbooks and let them know for this activity they can use their handbook and the Digging in the Past Adventure chapter.
  2. Explain to Cub Scouts that they are going to guess the names of dinosaurs based on a picture and some clues.
  3. Show pictures of the dinosaurs and ask Cub Scouts to guess the name of the dinosaur.
  4. If Cub Scouts have trouble guessing based on the picture, provide clues, based on the fun facts, about the dinosaurs without revealing the name.
Dino Match
LocationIndoor
Energy 2
Supply List2
Prep Time2

Play a dinosaur matching game.

  • Dino Cards found in Additional Resources
  • Cardstock
  • Printer
  • Each Cub Scout will need their Cub Scout Wolf handbook

Before the meeting:

  1. Print and cut out 1 set of Dino Cards on cardstock.
  2. Review the cards and become familiar with the different types of dinosaurs.

During the meeting:

  1. Gather Cub Scouts with their Wolf handbooks and let them know for this activity they can use their handbook and the Digging in the Past Adventure chapter.
  2. Divide the Cub Scouts into two groups.
  3. Give one group the cards with dinosaur photos.
  4. Provide the other group with the dinosaur cards with the fun facts.
  5. Tell Cub Scouts to work together and match the photos with the fun facts.

Dino Cards

Dino Trivia
LocationIndoor
Energy 1
Supply List2
Prep Time2

Play a dinosaur trivia game.

  • Dino Cards found in Additional Resources
  • Cardstock
  • Printer
  • Wolf handbook

Before the meeting:

  1. Print and cut out 1 set of Dino Cards on cardstock.
  2. Separate the photos from the fun facts. Review the cards and become familiar with the different types of dinosaurs.

During the meeting:

  1. Gather Cub Scouts with their Wolf handbooks and let them know for this activity they can use their handbook and the Digging in the Past Adventure chapter.
  2. Lay out  pictures of three different dinosaurs.
  3. Select one of the dinosaurs and read the fun facts. Have Cub Scouts guess which dinosaur you are describing. Replace the dinosaur photo that matches the fun facts with another photo.
  4. Continue until all the fun facts cards have been used.

Tip: Use plastic dinosaurs instead of the cards.

Create an imaginary dinosaur. Share with your den or family its name, what it eats, its size, and where it lives.
Dino Clay Creations
LocationIndoor
Energy 2
Supply List4
Prep Time2

Make a dinosaur out of clay.

  • Air dry craft clay
  • Sculpting tools such as a craft knife, toothpick, and clay shaping tools a set for each Cub Scout
  • Sponge
  • Bowl of water
  • Wolf handbook

Before the meeting:

  1. Prepare your workspace. Cover your work surface with a plastic tablecloth or parchment paper to prevent the clay from sticking.

During the meeting:

  1. Ask Cub Scouts to sculpt a basic dinosaur shape by shaping the clay into the rough outline of a dinosaur.
  2. Ask Cub Scouts to create a basic body shape and then add limbs, head, tail, and other details as needed.
  3. Encourage Cub Scouts to use sculpting tools to add details like scales, facial features, claws, and teeth. They can reference images to get a sense of the dinosaur’s anatomy.
  4. Suggest that Cub Scouts use tools to smooth out the surface and refine the shape. They can also use a damp cloth or sponge to achieve a smoother texture.
  5. Ask Cub Scouts to share their dinosaurs with the den. Encourage Cub Scouts to name their dinosaur and tell where it lived and what it ate.
Dino Imagination
LocationIndoor
Energy 2
Supply List3
Prep Time2

Create custom dinosaurs by assembling cutout body parts.

  • Dino Imagination worksheet found in Additional Resources
  • Cardstock
  • Printer
  • Scissors, one pair for each Cub Scout
  • Glue or glue stick for each Cub Scout
  • Colored pencils, markers, or crayons

Before the meeting:

  1. Print Dino Imagination on cardstock, one for each Cub Scout.

During the meeting:

  1.  Ask Cub Scouts to cut the dinosaur images into different body parts, such as heads, tails, bodies, legs, and arms along their outlines.
  2. Ask Cub Scouts to select body parts and assemble them on the background sheet to create their unique dinosaur designs. Cub Scouts can mix and match different parts to come up with imaginative combinations.
  3. Encourage Cub Scouts to use markers, colored pencils, or crayons to add details and personalize their dinosaurs. They can draw scales, patterns, or features on their creations.
  4. Ask Cub Scouts to share their dinosaur creations with the group. This is an opportunity for them to explain their designs and discuss what makes their dinosaurs unique.

Dino Imagination worksheet

Recycled Reptiles
LocationIndoor
Energy 2
Supply List3
Prep Time2

Create an imaginary dinosaur out of recycled materials.

  • Water bottles
  • Bottle caps
  • Cereal boxes
  • Container lids
  • Buttons
  • Felt
  • Construction paper
  • Soda cans
  • Chenille stems
  • Tape or glue sticks
  • Markers or crayons
  • Paper clips
  • Plastic tablecloth

Before the meeting:

  1. Ask Cub Scouts to collect recycled materials that they could use to build a dinosaur to bring to the meeting.
  2. Set up a workspace on a table.  Cover the table with a plastic tablecloth.

During the meeting:

  1. Ask Cub Scouts to use their imagination and the supplies on the workspace to build a dinosaur.
  2. Have Cub Scouts build their dinosaur using recycled materials.
  3. Encourage Cub Scouts to share their dinosaurs with the den. Ask Cub Scouts to name their dinosaur and tell where it lived and what it ate.
Be a paleontologist and dig through a dinosaur dig.
Dino Dig
LocationIndoor
Energy 3
Supply List4
Prep Time2

Make a dinosaur dig.

  • 3 cups corn starch for each Cub Scout
  • 1 ½ cups water for each Cub Scout plus ½ cup additional water to correct texture if needed
  • 1 mixing bowl for each Cub Scout
  • Dinosaur toys or fossil skeletons, several for each Cub Scout
  • 1 container such as a deep-dish style pie plate for each Cub Scout
  • Digging equipment such as a toothbrush, paintbrush, toothpick, and a lightweight hammer for each Cub Scout
  • Safety glasses for each Cub Scout
  • Newspaper for each Cub Scout

This Activity will take two meetings to complete. 

Before the meeting:

  1. Gather all materials and lay out items on a newspaper-covered work surface.

During the first meeting:

  1. Ask Cub Scouts to combine the 3 cups cornstarch and 1 ½ cups water together in a big bowl to make oobleck. If the mixture is too watery, add more cornstarch. The consistency should feel like quicksand, when you apply force, it becomes thicker.
  2. Have Cub Scouts pour the mixture into the container. Tell them to bury the dinosaurs in the mixture so that you can’t see them. The bones may not want to stay buried, so they may have to push them back down into the mixture. It’s OK if a couple of them are poking out of the mixture, but have Cub Scouts make sure that most of them are totally submerged in the oobleck.
  3. Set the containers aside to dry in a place where they can stay until the next den meeting.

During the second meeting:

  1. Cover your workspace with newspaper.
  2. Bring containers and put them down on top of the newspaper. This is going to get messy. Corn starch dust will be everywhere.
  3. For safety, Cub Scouts must wear safety glasses while working in case any pieces or dust go flying.
  4. Ask Cub Scouts to carefully turn the container upside down onto the work surface. Remove the container, and the dig should slide right out.
  5. The dig may crumble a bit. If it doesn’t, Cub Scouts can use the hammer and very gently tap on it to start breaking it up.
  6. Tell Cub Scouts to brush and dig their way through the dinosaur dig. When they see a bone, they should gently excavate around it, removing the cornstarch debris with a brush. Soon, they’ll find their dinosaur bones!

Tip: Consider holding the second meeting outside so that cleanup will be easier.

Dino Egg Dig
LocationIndoor
Energy 3
Supply List3
Prep Time2

Cub Scouts will make dinosaur eggs.

  • Mixing bowl for each Cub Scout
  •  Assorted fossils such as shark teeth, sea clam fossil, trilobite, ichthyodont, ammolite, copal amber, graptolite, rhynchonellida, conchostracan, tower corals, spirifer.  These can be found for purchase online.
  • 1 cup used coffee grounds per egg for each Cub Scout
  • 1 cup flour per egg for each Cub Scout
  • 1/2 cup salt per egg for each Cub Scout
  • 1/4 cup sand per egg for each Cub Scout
  • 3/4 cup water per egg for each Cub Scout
  • Digging equipment such a toothbrush, paintbrush, toothpick, and a lightweight hammer for each Cub Scout
  • Newspaper for each Cub Scout
  • Oven
  • Oven mitts

Before the meeting:

  1. Gather all materials and lay out items on a newspaper-covered work surface for each Cub Scout
  2. Preheat oven to 150*

During the meeting:

  1. Tell Cub Scouts to mix coffee grounds, flour, salt, and sand together, and add 1/4 cup water at a time.
  2. Once mixed, have Cub Scouts flatten a chunk of dough out in their hand and place fossils inside to later dig out and find. Have them roll the rest of the dough over the toy to form an egg or rock.
  3. Bake in the oven at 150*F for about 20-30 minutes. Allow the eggs to cool before handling.
  4. Place newspaper down for each Cub Scout. This is going to get messy.
  5. The egg may crumble a bit. If it doesn’t, have Cub Scouts use the hammer and very gently tap on it to start breaking it up.
  6. Encourage Cub Scouts to dig their way to the dinosaur toys.

TIP: While the dino egg is baking complete other requirements for this or other Adventures.

Fossil Expedition
LocationTravel
Energy 4
Supply List2
Prep Time4

Visit a location where fossils can be found.

Activity consent form for each Cub Scout

Before the meeting:

  1. Choose a fossil site. Research and choose a location where fossils are known to be found such as national or state parks, nature reserves, or museums with fossil exhibits. This may include a beach that has seashells. Ensure the site is safe and suitable for Cub Scouts.
  2. Obtain permissions. Contact the site authorities or landowners to obtain any necessary permissions for your visit. This is especially important if you plan to disturb the fossils in any way.
  3. If possible, arrange for a guided tour or a local expert to explain the geological history of the site and provide insights into the fossils found there.

During the meeting:

  1. Brief Cub Scouts on safety rules, including staying with the group, wearing appropriate clothing and footwear, and watching out for hazards like steep cliffs or slippery rocks.
  2. Have Cub Scouts explore and search for fossils. Encourage Cub Scouts to handle fossils gently and respect the site. Tell Cub Scouts that they should leave the fossil instead of taking it home.
  3. Encourage Cub Scouts to document their findings. This can be through sketches, photographs, or written descriptions in their journals. It’s a great way to create lasting memories.
  4. At the end of the visit, gather the Cub Scouts for a discussion. Have Cub Scouts share their favorite discoveries and what they learned. Discuss the importance of preserving such sites.
Build a fossil layer.
Dig In And Devour
LocationIndoor
Energy 2
Supply List3
Prep Time2

Cub Scouts learn about fossil layers by making edible fossil layers.

  •  8 to 10 oz. clear plastic cup for each Cub Scout
  • 3.25 oz. of prepared flavored gelatin one for every two Cub Scouts
  • 4 animal crackers for each Cub Scout
  • 3.25 oz. of prepared pudding for each Cub Scout
  • 1 graham cracker for each Cub Scout

Before the meeting:

  1. Gather all ingredients.
  2. Place 1.625 ounces of prepared flavored gelatin into each of the clear plastic cups.
  3. Place 2 animal crackers in the flavored gelatin so the animal crackers will be soft by the end of the activity.
  4. Become familiar with how fossils are formed.

During the meeting:

  1. Gather Cub Scouts and share with them that this activity is to demonstrate how fossils are formed.  When something like animal bones is covered, they can turn into fossils but not all the time.  Sometimes an object gets wet and starts to dissolve but when this happens it will not turn into a fossil.  Sometimes rock or other hard things will form around it and keep it dry and over time it may turn into a fossil.
  2. Tell Cub Scouts to scoop crushed graham crackers onto the flavored gelatin layer.
  3. Have Cub Scouts place an animal cracker on the layer.
  4. Ask Cub Scouts to scoop more graham crackers on top, making sure to cover the animal cracker.
  5. Tell Cub Scouts to scoop pudding onto the graham crackers.
  6. Have Cub Scouts place an animal cracker on the layer.
  7. Ask Cub Scouts to scoop more pudding.
  8. Encourage Cub Scouts to eat their fossil layer dessert. Ask them if they notice that some of the crackers stay crunchy and some are soft. Tell them that this is because some of the crackers will absorb moisture from their surroundings layers and some will not. Each of the materials surrounding the animal crackers affects them in a different way.
Dino Canvas
LocationIndoor
Energy 2
Supply List2
Prep Time2

Draw fossil layers and add in dinosaurs.

  • Drawing paper for each Cub Scout
  • Colored pencils for each Cub Scout
  • Pencil for each Cub Scout
  • Eraser for each Cub Scout

Before the meeting:

  1. Set up meeting space for Cub Scouts to draw.
  2. Become familiar with fossil layers and

During the meeting:

  1. Have Cub Scouts draw three different layers of the ground where fossils are found, drawing horizontal layers to represent different geological strata.
  2. Encourage Cub Scouts to color each layer using colored pencils. Darker for the deeper parts and lighter for the top layer with a thin layer of green at the top.
  3. Suggest Cub Scouts create texture for each layer by adding lines or small shapes to represent different types of sediment or rocks.
  4. Tell Cub Scouts that this first layer, darkest, is the oldest fossil layer.  The oldest fossils are fossils that were formed from things that lived in the sea.  To represent this have them draw seashells in this layer.
  5. Next tell the Cub Scouts the second layer is where we will find dinosaurs.  To represent this have them draw a dinosaur in this layer.
  6. Next tell the Cub Scouts that the next layer, the lightest color, will have things that are not as old, and this is where we will find fossils or artifacts from humans.  To represent this have them draw an arrowhead in this layer.
  7. Inform Cub Scouts that paleontologists use fossil layers to help determine how old a fossil may be and to help them know how far they must dig to find fossils.
  8. Ask Cub Scouts to share their drawings with the den.
Fossil Dough Discovery
LocationIndoor
Energy 2
Supply List3
Prep Time2

Cub Scouts build fossil layers with play dough.

  • 2 ounces of Three different colors of play dough for a total of 6 oz. for each Cub Scout
  • Small rolling pin for each Cub Scout
  • Small arrowhead (plastic or real) at least one per Cub Scout
  • Small plastic dinosaurs at least one per Cub Scout
  • Small shell at least one per Cub Scout
  • Piece of paper for each Cub Scout
  • Plastic tablecloth

Before the meeting:

  1. Set up the meeting space and cover the table or workspace with a plastic tablecloth.
  2. Set out all the supplies.

During the meeting:

  1. Tell Cub Scouts that they’re going to make layers of the earth  where fossils are found using play dough.
  2. Instruct Cub Scouts to collect their supplies.
  3. Have Cub Scouts take one color of playdough and roll it out flat into a rectangle.
  4. Tell Cub Scouts that this first layer will be the oldest fossil layer.  The oldest fossils are fossils that were formed from things that lived in the sea.  To represent this place the seashells in this layer.
  5. Next tell the Cub Scouts the second layer is where we will find dinosaurs.  To represent this have them place the dinosaurs in this layer.
  6. Next tell the Cub Scouts that the next layer will have things that are not as old, and this is where we will find fossils or artifacts from humans.  To represent this have them place the arrowhead in this layer.
  7. Inform Cub Scouts that paleontologists use fossil layers to help determine how old a fossil may be and to help them know how far they must dig to find fossils they are looking for.
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Safety Moment

Prior to any activity, use the BSA SAFE Checklist to ensure the safety of all those involved.

All participants in official BSA Scouting activities should become familiar with the Guide to Safe Scoutingand applicable program literature or manuals.

Be aware of state or local government regulations that supersede BSA practices, policies, and guidelines.

To assist in the safe delivery of the program you may find specific safety items that are related to requirements for the Adventure.

Before conducting a craft activity, review the Craft Tips video (2 minutes 34 seconds.)

Before starting any experiments in this Adventure:

  • Review the instructions completely for the experiment.
  • Conduct the experiment before the meeting to test the experiment.
  • Confirm additional adult supervision as needed.

During the Adventure:

  • Review the instructions fully with the den before beginning.
  • Wear protective clothing and eye protection.
  • Keep food and drinks away from the experiment.

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