Fossil fun

Make a fossil record to show how imprints of plants and animals get preserved in the earth.

You'll Need

  • Dirt
  • Water
  • Waxed paper
  • Cookie sheets
  • Cereal bowl
  • Spoon
  • Small objects: seashells
  • Pieces of wood
  • Leaves or nuts


60 minutes

Learning Stages

Scientists study fossils to learn about the plants and animals that lived on the Earth in the past. You and your child can make your own fossils together to discover how imprints of plants and animals from long ago were preserved in the earth. With your child, follow the steps below to make your own fossils.

  1. Fill a bowl 1/2 full with dirt.
  2. Mix water with the dirt until it becomes thick mud that can be molded or shaped by hand.
  3. Stir in two or three of the objects.
  4. Put a piece of waxed paper on the cookie sheet.
  5. Pour the mud out the bowl onto the wax paper, and make a mud pie so the objects are completely covered.
  6. Make more mud pies until all the objects are covered.
  7. Put the cookie sheet with the mud pies in the sun, either outside or on a windowsill.
  8. Wait two days, or until the mud pies have completely dried.
  9. Carefully break open the mud pies.

Talk to your child about what the fossils look like. Remind her that real fossils took millions of years to form. Research fossils on the Internet, and you’ll find pictures of fossil discoveries to show your child. Visit a natural history museum so that she can see real examples of fossils.

Reading resource

The Best Book of Fossils, Rocks, and Minerals by Chris Perrault (Kingfisher, 2000)