The following are all ways to create models that resemble amber. The child can relate and examine the differences between the model and the amber and by discussing this be conscious and understand what amber really is. This can also be a good approach to the subject of prehistoric life, fossils, evolution and extinct species. Image excerpted from Man Eating Bugs: The Art and Science of Eating Insects by Peter Menzel and Faith D'Aluisio (Ten Speed Press, 1998)
In the same manner as the amber is formed running down the tree, we also shaped our model. In the same manner as the inclusions are trapped in the amber, fossilized and preserved, our inclusion has also been preserved. The amber color and clarity reminiscent of the model's clarity. The amber has retained and preserved the inclusions for millions of years and act like little windows to the past, in the same way as our model was shaped and has a window to a time that existed for minutes or hours ago.
Different small froms - eg. from "kinder surprise" or other candy forms
Small leafs from different herbs
Small edible insects you may find in nature - for example. the ants are good (remember to check if the species is poisonous). Freeze them before you put them in. If you find it easier you can also use small gummy candies eg insects, spiders, worms, etc.
What You Do:
Wash and dry the forms.
Spray each with a light layer of cooking spray.
Mix the gelatin with the boiling water. Stir until completely dissolved.
Add a drop of red or yellow food coloring, ad your flavor, and stir.
Carefully pour the gelatin in the forms so they are about 3/4 full. Place the forms in the refrigerator.
When the surface is almost set, gently press a the herb, insect or candy into each of the forms. You can use a toothpick to push the inclusion. Make sure that the candy is only part-way down, so that it looks suspended in the gelatin, rather than sunken down at the bottom. Because the gelatin is not completely set at this point, the hole from where the gummy was pushed in should close up and disappear.
Refrigerate the fossils for several more hours until completely firm.
Once firm, invert each form onto a plate. Ask your child what she sees in the “amber”
Now tell her it’s time to make like a fossil hunter, and DIG IN!
Small microwave-safe disposable plastic containers
CAUTION: Melted soap can get extremely hot and cause burns on skin. Only an adult should handle the melted soap. Supervise children at all times during this project.
How to Make It
Use a knife to cut up the block of clear glycerin soap into smaller pieces.
Fill a small microwave-safe disposable plastic container with the soap pieces. Microwave on high for 20-30 seconds. The soap should be mostly melted with a few chunks still in it.
Carefully remove from the microwave using two hands. Stir with a craft stick to finish melting (or mostly finish melting—it’s OK if small chunks remain) the soap.
Add 2-3 drops of yellow soap dye and stir. Add 1 drop of red soap dye and swirl once or twice, allowing color to remain streaked and not fully mixed.
Carefully submerge a plastic insect into the melted soap. Remember this is bottom-side up, so you may want to place the insect in upside-down. Allow to cool completely (45 min to an hour for about 4 ounces). Release the soap by pressing the container around the sides to loosen and then press your thumbs into the bottom to pop it out. Use a damp paper towel to rub down any rough edges.
The True Amber Candy
This recipe and pictures has been developed by Savita Sharma and Lim Syn Yin
What You Need
Metal spoon for stirring
Orange food colouring
Mint leaves (the ‘fossils’)
Toothpicks (If you want to make lollipops)
A) Making the candy mould
Before you start making your candy, be sure that your moulds are ready. Using several layers of aluminium foil, fold the aluminium foil into a cupshaped mould.
If you want to make lollipops, you can poke a toothpick through the side of the cup-shaped mould.
Place 2-3 mint leaves in each mould.
B) Making the ‘amber’ syrup
Pour seven tbsp of cane sugar into a saucepan
Add two tbsp of water
Add two tbsp of corn syrup to the mixture
Stir the mixture until the sugar has dissolved and the syrup is thoroughly mixed.
Place the saucepan over the induction stove and bring the mixture to a slow boil.
Add two drops of orange food colouring* and gently stir the mixture over low heat for 5 minutes. To know when to remove the syrup from the heat, test by dropping a small amount of the syrup into a glass of cold water. If it hardens and forms a ball immediately, it is ready. *If you do not want to use food colouring, you may boil the syrup for an additional 3-5 minutes until the syrup becomes slightly brownish yellow in colour.
Switch off the induction stove and carefully pour the mixture into the moulds. Advisory: Please be careful when pouring the hot mixture into the aluminium moulds. You may want to place the aluminium moulds on a paper plate (prior to pouring in the mixture) to contain spills. For added safety, you can consider using paper cups instead of aluminium moulds.
If the mint leaves float, pour more syrup to immerse the leaves. Be careful, do not touch the syrup when it is still hot. Leave the syrup to cool at room temperature for about 10 minutes until it hardens.
Gently peel off the aluminium foil.
And volia! Your ‘fossilised mint’ candy is now ready to be shared and eaten!