Monday, October 1, 2012

Shells at the beach with plaster of Paris: A first attempt and goofs

I have read multiple times that you can make a sort of fossil thing with seashells and sand using plaster of Paris.

Now, Plaster of Paris is not one of those things that I use very often at home, I am unable to find much of it in Singapore, except in seriously overpriced toy sets which come with a small packet, some magnets, some moulds and cost twenty dollars.

Nevertheless, when Miti gave Sophia an animal tracking kit where you should look for and make casts of animal prints, I put all the plaster of Paris in a box and put it away for a suitable day - There are really no wild animals where I live, and even less earth. Plaster casts of cigarette butts are very possible though, not that I would want to do them.

So when husband was running his triathlon at east coast, which he did very well, doing the Olympic distance in slightly over three hours (his personal best), I had the opportunity to keep the girls in the beach all morning, and felt that it would be great to facilitate a plaster of Paris fossil.
The How:

Since our sand toys were accidentally on purpose thrown away by our block cleaner (long story), we didnt have any sand toys. Rather than buy a new set, I have been taking mushroom containers to places where Sand and water play could occur.

The girls play with them, and we can toss them in the bin without worrying about washing all the stuck sand in the bathroom.

This time though, Anjali refused to let me toss the mushroom containers in the bin. "We can cut them up and make collages", she says.

What ever
 At some point, when the girls were comfortable and pretty wet and dirty, we began to dig a hole and I asked the girls to collect shells and interesting looking pebbles
 As we worked, the tide kept coming in, so we had to do the hole like three times before we had anything significant

 Not that the children were complaining, they used the opportunity to get more wet to help me to dig the hole.
 Finally, there were enough shells to cover the bottom and sides of the hole, at which point, we added the plaster of Paris
We were supposed to wait for the thing to dry. However, afer a couple nof minutes, the tide came in some more. It was rather unexpected, since we had been progressively moving and had nearly reached five meters away from where the first hole was. 

Anjali began to build a dam to keep out the water, A couple of waves got deviated, but the third one came right in and filled our whole with sand, covering all the plaster. I thought it was a lost case and told Sophia so.

And then I dug a bit and found that the plaster had actually hardened. 

So we pretended to be paleontologists and dug our fossils out. As a result of this, Anjali doesn't want to be a fashion designer anymore, she wants to be a scientist who digs for bones. Dino bones specifically

And then she took the fossil thing for a swim. I suppose you could crack it up to excavate the shells, but it is so beautiful that I have left it in the garden for a while.

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