Grade: Elementary
Subject: Science

#3255. Fossil Dig

Science, level: Elementary
Posted Mon Oct 11 11:32:42 PDT 2004 by Elizabeth Valenza (

University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, Johnstown, PA USA
Materials Required: book, box, sand, shovel, Chips Ahoy chocolate chip cookies (there will be several cookies placed in
Activity Time: 40-60 minutes
Concepts Taught: types of fossils, job of a paleontologist, concept of a fossil dig

Subject: Fossils

Relationship to State Standards: Science and Technology Standards/ Earth Sciences- 3.5.4/ A. Know basic landforms and earth history.

• Students will be able to define fossil.
• Students will be able to explain the job of a paleontologist.
• Students will be able to list and describe the four types of fossils.
• Students will participate in the "Fossil Dig" activity.

Subject Integration: Writing, Social Studies, Technology

Materials: book, box, sand, shovel, Chips Ahoy chocolate chip cookies (there will be several cookies placed in the box with sand in it), paintbrushes, toothpicks, napkins

Vocabulary Words: fossil, paleontologist, true fossils, cast fossils, mould, and trace fossils

Instructional Procedures:
• Anticipatory Set/Introduction: Read the book "Fossils- Here on Earth," which describes different types of fossils, what they are found in, and what scientists can learn from fossils. Have class discussion about fossils after reading the book. Ask the students if they have ever seen a fossil.
• Developmental Activities: Introduce vocabulary terms: paleontologist, true fossils, cast fossils, mould, and trace fossils.
• Use vocabulary words and definitions on blackboard. Give and example of each type of fossil.
• Each student will now have a chance to become a 'paleontologist for a day' in this Fossil Dig activity. First students are given instructions, then each student will do the following:
1. Call students up by rows. Have each student dig with a small shovel through the box of sand to find a "fossilized rock" (which is a chocolate chip cookie). Tell students not to eat the cookie!!
2. Each student will take their "fossilized rock" back to their seat and brush off the excess sand with a "fossil brush" (paintbrush).
3. Using a "fossil pick" (toothpick), students will pick the "fossils" (chocolate chips) out of their "rocks" (cookies).
4. When all students are finished, we will discuss as a class which types of fossils were represented in the activity. The chocolate chips that were picked out resemble true fossils and the indents that remain from the chips resemble moulds.
• Hand out a chocolate chip cookie to each student for them to eat.
• Closure: Review all of the types of fossils in a class discussion.
Assessment: Evaluate class discussions.

Special Needs Adaptations: Attention Deficit Disorder- watch this student more carefully and give him/her extra instructions to make sure he/she follows the correct procedure during the activity.

Extension/Enrichment: Students can search their own backyards at home to find objects that have or could become fossilized.

Technology Integration:
One computer: The teacher will lead the class on the overhead projector connected to the computer on a "Virtual Fieldtrip" on a website. The fieldtrip consists of going to a desert and participating in a fossil dig.
Six computers: On their own time, students may use the computers to explore the website The site contains abundant information about paleontologists, fossils, and dinosaurs.
Each child has a computer: As a class, we will explore the website together. The students will follow instructions on where to go on the site so we, as a class, can see and discover interesting facts together.