We love exploring more about dinosaurs and how we know what they we like here on Rainy Day Mum, as this second activity for our annual Storybook Summer Dinosaur Week were are focusing down on their feet. We recently explored making trace fossils using our toy dinosaurs in pretend edible mud and have also made our own dinosaur tracks. Today, we are using the power of the sun to create some Solar Print Dinosaur Footprints that the Kids can Make.
Find more Dinosaur Inspiration for kids with our selection of hands-on activities for learning with and about dinosaurs.
Storybook Summer Featured Series How Do Dinosaurs?
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Dinosaurs inspire dreams and nightmares. They are big and fierce. They are also mysterious. Why exactly did they die out? Would we humans be here if dinosaurs weren’t extinct? And is it true that dinosaurs walked where we walk today and under the same sun?
Every time we get a new dinosaur book, my kids get very excited. We have a vast collection of nonfiction books about dinosaurs, but one of my kids’ favorites is Jane Yolen’s fictional series How Do Dinosaurs? In those books, kids find out how dinosaurs eat, play with their friends, say “Happy birthday”, clean their rooms, go to bed, and more.
Kids love all of the naughty things dinosaurs do, yet they don’t realize that they are learning a lot of valuable life lessons. All of my kids (from 1-year-old to 10-year-old) run over when they see me pick up one of Yolen’s dinosaur books.
To encourage my kids’ imaginations, I love to create activities inspired by our readings. In the summer, our favorite place to do activities is outside. So let’s use sunlight to make dinosaur prints and, in the process, teach important lessons about sun safety.
What you need to create these Easy Dinosaur Footprints for Kids
White paper (like for printing documents)
A crayon to draw footprint or print our template
Stone from the garden
How to make your Solar Print Dinosaur Footprints
- On a piece of white paper, draw dinosaur footprints or print our template.
- Cut the prints out.
- Place the prints on the black paper and place a stone on top of the prints to keep them in place, especially if it’s a windy day.
- Come back in a little while and touch the white and black papers with your hand. Be careful not to shift the prints! Can you feel the difference in temperature? Why do you think the black paper feels so much warmer?
- Return at the end of the day and remove the white prints. What happened to the portion of the paper that was covered by white prints? Why is the area under the prints fully black? Why do you think the sun bleached the uncovered area?
- Frame your prints and hang them in your room. Or turn them into a greeting card by writing a message with a white marker (see how we used ours for Father’s Day). Or use them to create more art. For example, use a marker to trace the print’s outline and color inside with chalkboard effects pencils.
Why did the sun make dinosaur footprints on the paper
Have you heard of ultraviolet (UV) radiation? UV radiation is a type of energy produced by the sun and some artificial sources (like tanning beds).
When UV rays of the sunlight fall on the object, there is a chemical reaction. This reaction causes the black color to fade.
You had experience with this before! The sun changed the color of the black paper in the same way as the sun changes the color of your skin when you stay in the sun too long. Of course, your skin doesn’t get bleached or faded. It gets red or tanned. Did you know that any tan or color on your skin is the sign of skin damage in response to UV exposure?
The portion of the black paper that was covered by the white prints stays the same as before. Do you know why? The white paper blocked the sun from breaking down the color in the black paper, the same way as the skin under your clothes doesn’t get tanned.
Why didn’t the white paper change the color? Dark colors absorb the sunlight’s heat; while white (and light colors) bounce it away. That’s why you should wear white (or light) clothing in the summer. What else will help you stay safe in the summer sun?
Protective clothing, sunscreen, sunglasses, and hats will all help you protect your skin. So will playing in the shade and avoiding the sun’s peak hours between 11am and 3pm.
But that’s not all!
What else can you use to make solar prints? Anything! We had great success with sticks, flowers, and leaves. Arrange your compositions on black paper and wait for results. You can also buy specific Solar Paper instead of fading the sun activates the color pigment. See how we used this solar paper to create some nature prints just like we described.
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Cerys is a marine biologist, environmental educator, teacher, mum, and home educator from the UK. She loves getting creative, whether it is with simple and easy crafts and ideas, activities to make learning fun, or delicious recipes that you and your kids can cook together you'll find them all shared here on Rainy Day Mum.