Summer of STEM: Prehistoric Planet

This summer we’re hearing from our amazing camp staff. Our Hope College students do the heavy lifting of planning, prepping, and teaching our hands-on camps all summer long! Each week, 2-3 student staff members will recap a camp they’ve led and share tips on how to keep the fun going at home!

Happy summer everyone! I am Ana Gamboa-Andrade, I recently graduated from Hope in November and am teaching at the ExploreHope Science Camps this summer. I majored in Elementary Education in the Integrated Sciences so I love seeing campers immersed in hands-on science education. 

Campers shows off their pudding fossils – keep reading to learn how to make your own at home.

This week, I had the joy of leading the Prehistoric Planet camp. Our little paleontologists had so much fun in this camp exploring any and everything about dinosaurs and fossils. They got to take part in some fossil digging and assembly, creating teeth and claw molds, exploring descendants of dinosaurs, and excavating their own dinosaur eggs!

Dino tracks!

This was a Kindergarten through 2nd grade camp, so along with the week being fun, it was also cute as heck! One of our favorite activities was getting to create our own tar pit slime. We pre-portioned out some ingredients for a gooey slime and added a few drops of black paint to give it that tar feel. Once they finished kneading it, they got to play with some small dinosaur toys and get them stuck in their tar.

Digging for fossils…

If you’d like to share some of the Prehistoric Planet fun at home, you can try making some yummy pudding fossils with a few simple ingredients.


  • Vanilla pudding
  • Chocolate pudding 
  • Crushed up graham crackers
  • Crushed up Oreos
  • Dinosaur gummies or sprinkles
  • Blue food dye
  • Clear dessert cups
  • Spoons

Before assembling your pudding fossils, you’ll want to dye about a third of your vanilla pudding blue to represent a lake bed. Once your materials are prepared, walk your little paleontologist through this yummy model of fossil formation. 

Imagine 200 million years ago, some dinosaurs were walking in a riverbed. Scoop a layer of blue pudding in the bottom of the cup to represent the river bed and put the dino sprinkles on top.

All of a sudden the dinos were buried by a landslide, a flood, or a volcanic eruption! Quickly cover the dinos with cookie crumbs.

Over time more sediments accumulated on top of the river bed. Some of the sediments were big, and some were small. Some of the layers were thick, and some were thin. Use the chocolate and vanilla pudding along with both kinds of crumbs to make layers, burying your dinos deeper in the Earth. Let your paleontologist create their own story.

Over millions of years, the pressure on top of the material surrounding your dinosaurs turned the mud and dirt into rock, and the dinosaurs into fossils. Enjoy! 

Visit ExploreHope Summer Camps for more info. Although many of our camps are full, there are still openings for all ages.

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