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I've seen so many awesome posts on ice excavation lately, and I was wondering if I could come up with a twist on that when I thought of gelatin.  We had so much fun with our Gelatin Play and our Fizzing Gelatin that I thought it would be worth a shot at freezing gelatin to see what it would do.  We made the gelatin as normal, with one fabulous new step - oiling the cups we were using before pouring the gelatin in.  One of my awesome readers, Med, replicated our Gelatin Play here and solved my the-gelatin-sticks-to-the-cups problem by using cooking spray on the cups.  We used regular cooking oil and it's genius (thank you, Med!)!  So we oiled the cups, set our creatures inside, and poured the liquid unflavored gelatin mix (made following the directions on the box) and stored them in the fridge until they set (about 4 hours), then moved them to the freezer overnight.

It might have worked to move them immediately to the freezer, but I figured I'd hedge my bets by letting them set in the regular fashion first.   They come out looking really neat - just like a frozen fossil - don't you think?

And here's another shot of two "fossils" we excavated the following day.

I set S up with a foil covered cookie tray (with an edge to contain water - the foil was to make the clean up of the leftover gelatin easier), a spoon, a container of warm water, and three of our frozen creatures who needed her help!

S alternated between drizzling the warm water over the gelatin and dunking the gelatin in the water.  The outer edges of the gelatin began to defrost and left a crazy cool-to-the-touch layer of squishy thawed gelatin.  It seemed a bit tougher than regular gelatin - it actually reminded me a lot of the texture of water beads!

S would break chunks off with her hands and squish them around a bit.

You could really dig into it once it had defrosted a bit from the warm water.

Once enough of the gelatin had been defrosted and picked off - she could use her hands to pull ant out!

 A successful rescue!  Ant is free and ready for a warm bath (it was cold in his gelatinous confines!)

The frozen gelatin had a strange texture, as I mentioned above, and it also seemed to absorb water like a sponge.  You could squeeze the water out, then submerge it and do it all over again.  It was really weird, but fun enough that even I had to do it repeatedly!


Not to mention, the crystals of ice and gelatin were so pretty!

Since gelatin is edible (but rather gross plain, so don't eat it - ew), X got to join in on the fun.  I wouldn't bother freezing a creature to dig out in the gelatin for a baby - but plain frozen unflavored gelatin would definitely be a fun summer sensory experience for the little guys.

X had a lot of fun touching the rubbery outer layer (we gave him one that was slightly defrosted).

He really does make the best faces.  Here he's saying "ooh!" as he investigates a chunk of defrosted gelatin he's broken off.

The biggest "fossil" we made was using one of the dinosaur skeletons we'd used to make our Plaster Dinosaur Fossils - and he is a BIG guy.  He took two days to excavate, but S had a great time.  I loved that this activity lasted quite some time - several hours over two days.  When S tired of working at getting the big dinosaur out, I just popped him in the freezer for the next day.  For reference, she was interested/able to excavate two smaller fossils each day - and I was able to make the big dinosaur and four smaller fossils out of one small box (four packets) of unflavored gelatin.

If you've got a dinosaur fan at home, For even more dinosaur fun, be sure to check out our No Sew Dinosaur World Playmat and our Dinosaurs and Sticky Mud Small World!

Frozen Gelatin Fossil Excavation - a twist on the classic ice excavation - it's freezing cold, a fun sensory experience, and safe for babies and toddlers!

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All activities here are activities I feel are safe for my own children.  As your child's parents/guardians, you will need to decide what you feel is safe for your family.  I always encourage contacting your child's pediatrician for guidance if you are not sure about the safety/age appropriateness of an activity. All activities on this blog are intended to be performed with adult supervision.  Appropriate and reasonable caution should be used when activities call for the use of materials that could potentially be harmful, such as scissors, or items that could present a choking risk (small items), or a drowning risk (water activities), and with introducing a new food/ingredient to a child (allergies).  Observe caution and safety at all times.  The author and blog disclaim liability for any damage, mishap, or injury that may occur from engaging in any of these activities on this blog.


  1. This looks so neat! We have a similar activity planned (an in the freezer), but it's not nearly as wonderfully gooey as yours! Love your little guy's expression as he examine his. :)

    1. He's definitely got the best expressions, especially durin sensory play! Can't wait to see what you've frozen for the Hooligans! 'Tis the season to freeze!

  2. Thanks for the credit! We love ice excavation and this looks like lots of fun! We will have to try it out soon. Med

    1. Hi Med! Using oil was such a great idea! It made everything SO much easier! So glad you thought of it. And hope you guys give this twist on ice excavations a try and love it! :)

  3. Great idea, Asia. We've done toy animals and objects frozen in ice before but I've never thought to try it with gelatin.

  4. You know anytime kids do something for over an hour, it is a hit! We did this today with Arctic Animals. Now it is an all time favorite. Thanks. I shared it on my Facebook, giving you credit and linking this page. Love the idea.

    1. Yay! I'm so glad it was a hit, Peggie! And thank you SO much for the link and shout out! It is so appreciated!!!! :) :) :)

  5. Perfect! Exactly the type of activity I was looking to include in my winter book-and-craft round up. Goes so well with Skippyjon Jones: Snow What - in which he rescues a princess from a block of ice! Linked back on my blog and Pinterest!

  6. Hi I have a quick question my knox box doesn't have instructions for preparing just suggested recipes. Do you remember how many cups of water you used per package?

    1. Oh man, that's annoying! It is 1 envelope per 1 cup of water according to our box. :)


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