My mom has some Australian friends who e-mailed her a cool alternative to Easter eggs which I’m trying out for our annual “hunt” this year. I used baking soda, cocoa powder (for color) and water to make a play-dough like substance and then hid “treasures” inside them, forming a rock shape. This, I’m told, will dry to be relatively hard and I’ll then hide the “rocks” amongst real rocks in my parents’ patio. The cool things is that when vinegar is added (either dripped on slowly or through immersing the “rock” in a bowl of it) the baking soda concoction will fizz up and dissolve, leaving just the treasure behind.
I’ve tried a few with red sprinkles to give them a pinkish hue and a bunch with silver and gold glitter (I like those the best). Inside, I hid quarters and tarnished pennies (so we can watch as the vinegar shines them up), little plastic dinosaur toys, and a couple of rubber Dora bracelets (she’s my niece’s favorite).
I can’t wait for the kiddos to find them and then go through the process of uncovering the treasures inside! What a great tie in to the Easter story (and a little science experiment to go along with it).
Update: The “rock hunt” was a huge success! They actually blended in amazingly well with the rocks on my parents’ patio and were somewhat difficult to find, but that made it all the more fun.
We had done a test run with the boy and realized that the dripping vinegar slowly on the rocks would take until next Easter to dissolve them so we went for the full immersion/volcano effect. They loved it. We had to help them along by squeezing them a bit to crack them open but once they saw that there was stuff inside, they were even more eager to get in there and help out.
The best parts about it: it did not result in any extra Easter candy, we made it into a little science lesson (about acids and bases), and no plastic eggs were harmed in the making of this adventure.
If you’re interested in trying these with your kids, but don’t have the time or inclination to make them yourself, I’m also selling some in my Etsy store. I’m happy to customize them with whatever kind of toys or coins you’d like! https://www.etsy.com/listing/129853106/treasure-rocks
If you want a little more specific instruction, I wrote up the “recipe” last time I made them (for Vacation Bible Camp):
32 oz. baking soda
1 oz. baking cocoa (for color) (A little goes a long way and too much will make them look like poop- literally.)
approx. 1 cup water
glitter (optional but highly encouraged)
Directions: Mix the dry ingredients together. Add about 3/4 of the water and then try mushing it around with your hands. You want it to be moldable and stick together well, but not so wet that it doesn’t keep its shape while drying. Add more water or baking soda if needed. Make rock-shapes and then stick whatever small object you want to hide inside, mushing the dough around the object. Let dry overnight before dissolving them in vinegar. (I tried using a drying rack at first, but then realized that my “rocks” were getting a waffle pattern on the side that was resting on the rack. I put newspaper under them and they dried just fine.)