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    Max was obsessed with dinosaurs. Like, crazy obsessed. From Apatosaurus to Zigongosaurus, he knew and loved them all. And as his birthday approached, all he could talk about was how excited he was for his dinosaur party.
 
He wanted a cake shaped like a zigongosaurus. Do you know what a zigongosaurus is? Neither did I. Google did. And I soon realized that a zigongosaurus cake was well beyond my skill level. Since Max can tell each dinosaur apart, I was afraid my zigongosaurus would look like an apatosaurus, or brachiosaurus, or an I've-never-heard-of-it-osaurus, so I talked him into to a cake shaped like any sauropod. That way, I knew that all I had to do was make a dinosaur with a long neck, and he wasn't going to be disappointed. With that, I headed back to Google, and found instructions to make a cake shaped like a sauropod, here. Make sure that if you're going to shape your own cake, you bake one from scratch. If you use one from a box, it will crumble apart.

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    So, what did the little paleontologists do at the dino-mite party? First, they went on a dinosaur hunt. I got a bunch of little dinosaurs and other dinosaur themed stuff from Oriental Trading Company, stuck them in some plastic Easter eggs, and hid them in the backyard.
    When the guests arrived, they all decorated a bag with stickers and markers. This kept them entertained until everyone had arrived, and was ready to hunt.  

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    After the dinosaur hunt, the kids dug up some dinosaurs. This took a while to prepare. I got each kid a little dinosaur skeleton (also from Oriental Trading Company), and buried it in a plaster mold. To make the molds, I used some styrofoam take-out containers from my in-laws, and filled them with a mixture of plaster, sand, and water. I hid the dinosaur skeletons in the plaster, and set the molds out to dry for a few days. When they were dry, they were little bricks of plaster, waiting for the kids to chip them out.

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       Then, I made each kid a little mallet and a chisel out of wood dowels. I got a 1 inch wood dowel, and cut it into sections, 2 inches long to form the mallet. For the handle, I used 3/8 inch wood dowels, cut into 6 inch sections. I drilled 3/8 inch holes halfway into the middle of the hammer pieces, and put the handles in, with a little wood glue to keep them in place.
    For the chisels, I used 1/2 inch wood dowels, cut into 6 inch pieces, and used a pencil sharpener to make the point.

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    The kids absolutely LOVED digging out the dinosaurs. We all sat out on the patio, while the kids chipped away. The plaster and sand mixture was strong enough to hold together, but even my 2 year old daughter was strong enough to chip out her dinosaur. Then, once the dinosaurs were out, the kids rinsed them in a bucket of water, and brushed off any extra dirt, just like real paleontologists! 
   

    We served dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets for our carnivore guests, and had salad and veggies for the herbivores. Everyone had a great time, and the whole thing cost about $100.
 


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