Turtles lay their eggs in nests they build on land. Mama turtles dig a hole about 6 inches deep in loose sand, soil, or decaying debris. They lay 20 or more eggs in the hole and then cover it back up. After the eggs are tucked in, the mama turtle leaves the nest. When the babies hatch they have to take care of themselves. Turtle eggs are spherical and white but the turtle eggs you make will be brown and can be any shape you’d like.
This activity has two parts: making the eggs and excavating the eggs. It’s a wonderful sensory activity with lots of different textures, smells, and colors at play. Heads up that the eggs take some time to dry and cure. Plan to make them one day and excavate them on another day.
Ingredients for 10 2″ by 3″ eggs:
2 cups flour
1 cup damp soil
1.5 cups coffee grounds
2 cups sand
1.5 cups salt
1 cup water
Add all the dry ingredients to a large bowl.
Mix all the ingredients with your hands until a dough is formed. It should feel like playdough when it’s ready. What does the dough feel like? Is it squishy, wet, and gritty? What does it smell like? Can you smell the soil? How about the coffee?
Pull off a glob of the “dough” and hide a small toy turtle (or other object) in the middle. Make sure you use enough dough so that the object is completely hidden within the “egg.”
Now it’s time for the eggs to dry. To speed up the process, bake at 150 degrees for about 2 hours or setting them outside in direct sun. Although baking and sun help speed up drying, the eggs will still need additional time to dry. Depending on temperature and humidity the eggs make take 2 days to a week to dry completely. The eggs are ready when the outer centimeter surface feels hard. The eggs should also turn a lighter color on all sides. You can squeeze the egg lightly to see how dry it is.
Once the outer shell of the eggs have dried, they are ready to excavate. Look for tools around your home to help with excavation: butter knives, toothpicks or popsicle sticks, a kids hammer, etc. Break it open and discover what’s inside…
How has the dough changed from the mixture in the bowl to the dried egg? Does the dough feel different on the outside of the egg than on the inside?