Create a Fossil Dig
In this science activity, kids will dig for fossils.
A scientist who studies fossils is called a "paleontologist." Fossils are preserved imprints or traces of plants and animals. For example, imprints of plants or footprints from long ago are sometimes found preserved in rocks. You might also find fossilized things like bones, teeth, wood, and even droppings (coprolites). Many of these fossils are formed when an animal or plant dies and is covered by layers of mud that, over time, turn to rock. This is why we find most fossils in sedimentary rock. In the case of bones, teeth, wood and droppings, minerals from the mud and soil slowly replace the organic matter in these things to create something that is mineralized and hard like rock. In the case of petrified wood, when a tree dies in a wet area, water fills the small holes in the wood and deposits minerals that harden, turning the wood to rocK.
- Large plastic container
- Sand or rice - enough to fill the tub about 1/3 to the top
- Small fossils, sharks' teeth, rocks or similar
- Small shovels, spoons or similar - 1 of this item per student
- Colander, sifter or similar - 1 of this item per student
- Magnifying glass - 1 of this item per student
Fill a large plastic container with sand or rice and disperse the fossils, teeth or rocks throughout the container. (For younger children, you can also make pretend fossils out of just about anything.)
Allow the children them to use the sifters and shovels to search through the sand to see what things they can find.
Encourage kids to examine what they find with magnifying glasses and sort their fossils into groups.
Try printing, laminating and cutting out parts of a dinosaur skeleton and hide in the sand. Have the kids sift for the bones, then rebuild the dinosaur from the pieces they find.