Fossil Finds

Fossil Finds lesson plan

Did you ever find a footprint in mud and wonder what animal made it? If left untouched for thousands of years, it would turn into a fossil! Create your own fossil replicas.

  • 1.

    Brainstorm with students about things that lived long ago, such as dinosaurs. Discuss how we learn about their appearance? When scientists study fossils, they can estimate the size of animals by the sizes of their footprints and skeletons. Fossils are a tangible link to the past, and new information is being discovered each day.

  • 2.

    Making replicas of fossils with Crayola® Air-Dry Clay is easy. You can create fine details because of the smooth finish of the clay. Students make fossil imprints with found objects such as plant leaves, sea shells, or even the foot of a toy dinosaur?

  • 3.

    On a clean, dry surface flatten a handful of the clay. Make the edges uneven and jagged, like a rock. Cracks in the edges make it look authentic. Press objects into the rock and carefully remove them, leaving a fossil print. Air-dry the fossil for at least 48 hours.

  • 4.

    Spread recycled newspaper on an art table. Students place a few drops of brown or black Crayola Tempera Paint on the surface of the fossil. With a paper towel or sponge, rub the paint over the surface. Rub off any excess so that the paint sticks only in the indentations for a rock-like finish. Add another earthy color and repeat the process.

  • 5.

    Ask students what they found interesting about being a paleontologist? They are the scientists who study dinosaur bones.


  • LA: Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.
  • LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions with diverse partners on grade level topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.
  • LA: Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
  • LA: Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
  • LA: Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience in an organized manner, using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.
  • SCI: Ask questions about the natural and human-built worlds.
  • SCI: Offer causal explanations appropriate to level of scientific knowledge.
  • SCI: Construct drawings or diagrams as representations of events or systems.
  • VA: Use visual structures of art to communicate ideas.
  • VA: Select and use subject matter, symbols, and ideas to communicate meaning.


  • Possible classroom resources include: Under Michigan: The Story of Michigan's Rocks and Fossils by Charles Ferguson Barker; Monster Bones: The Story of a Dinosaur Fossil by Jacqui Barker
  • Students chart the different types and sizes of dinosaurs. Students research the names of each and devise a study habit to assist with learning how to spell each.
  • What is a paleontologist? Students investigate this career, what educational background is needed to be a professional paleontologist and the life of a well-known paleontologist such as Luis Alvarez or Robert Bakker. Students organize research into an electronic format for classmates to view.