Recently, we’ve been nurturing our own Painted Lady caterpillars to study and watch grow in to beautiful butterflies, which I will make a separate blog post on once our babies (yes, I’ve become stupidly attached to them) have transformed. We bought our butterfly kit from a company called Insect Lore, they sell other kits such as stick insects, silk worms, giant snails, ant hills and beautiful ecosystems, as well as lots of other activities to get children excited about nature, science and exploration. Whilst purchasing our butterfly kit, I also purchased something called a Dinosaur Plant.
I have to admit being drawn to this simply because of the name, who doesn’t love dinosaurs?! When reading more, I found the idea of this plant completely fascinating. The fact that it can lie dormant for years in a straw-like state yet spring back to life within minutes of being in water and to know that they have been around since before we existed, sometimes growing bigger than a Tyrannosaurs Rex is pretty darn cool.
Two big plus points for me are the speed at which the dinosaur plant grows and it’s hardiness. Sullivan finds waiting for things very hard, most kids do I’m sure. The novelty of growing tomato plants or even cress can soon become a weary activity when the days go by with little more than a glimmer of green shoot. Of course I will still do these kinds of things with Sullivan to build and grow his patience but sometimes, instant gratification is what is needed. I also (accidentally) kill anything that resembles any kind of plant-life, yes, even cacti. I have killed cacti. So having something that will only dry up if I ultimately forget about it ready to be resurrected again with a handful of lava stone and tap water is a big bonus.
We unboxed our dinosaur plant with excitement. I have to say it/the lava stones are a little stinky, which coupled with the strange textures (dried noodles? Shredded Wheat?) lead to a little sensory overload for Sullivan but with some time and the kitchen window flung open, he soon became able to get his hands dirty and started preparing the plant to grow.
We washed our lava stones, the bowl and the plant in cool water and then lay the stones in the bottom of the bowl. Sullivan then nestled the dinosaur plant into the stones and we poured water over the whole thing, just as the instructions say to do.
Instantly, small strands of light brown leaves started moving, slowly reaching and then springing upwards and outwards. It was magical to watch! I wish I could have organised a time lapse to show you but typically I remembered as I had already started working on this with Sullivan and my camera also had insufficient battery. What we did instead was take photos at 10 minute intervals from the same position to give you an idea of how quickly our dinosaur plant grew and started changing colour!
Sullivan was in awe watching how quickly the plant took in water and used it to rejuvenate it’s form. Not only was this a great practical experiment to study, we researched into the different types of ‘dinosaur plant’ and used our findings to further our past topics on plant growth and types of plants in different habitats. We will also use it in art for a still life project.
If you are looking for a quick rewarding and safe experiment to do with your children, I’d highly recommend buying your own dinosaur plant to grow. It can fit in to so many different projects and holds no real level of disappointment or frustration that some growing experiments can bring.
Have you grown your own dinosaur plant before? Do you have another experiment similar to this we could try? I’d love to hear your thoughts below.