Fossilize Your Footprints
Paleontologists, best known for studying dinosaurs, investigate prehistoric life by digging up and looking at fossils, or remains (like imprints or skeletons) that have turned into rock! With this exciting and surprisingly simple hands-on activity, your child can preserve imprints of his footprints, his toys, and even the family pet. All the while, he'll be learning about the geological process of forming fossils, the methods paleontologists use to find them, and scientific and historical importance of understanding creatures of the past. Mentioning dinosaurs a couple of times probably wouldn't hurt, either.
This valuable, fun-filled activity is sure to leave an impression!
Make Imprints in Playdough
What You Need:
- Large disposable tray
- Living things, such as a leaf, flower, pet, and your child
- Any other objects to imprint, such as toys
What You Do:
- Recruit your child to help you fill the tray with playdough. Leave a couple of inches at the top so you can fill the tray the rest of the way with plaster later.
- Encourage your child to press his hand into the dough to make an imprint. You can join him if you'd like! Talk about the consistency of the dough. Is it hard or soft? Does he think that this imprint would still be around many years from now if he left it here? What about an imprint in mud or sand?
- Now, make imprints of other things! These can be leaves, flowers, shells, toys. Recruit the family dog or cat to make a few footprints as well! This works best with items that your child will still recognize when he sees the imprint.
- If you'd like, you can start making plaster (see instructions below) while your child is making imprints.
Your child can do as much or as little of this as he'd like. When he is satisfied with his imprint, it's time to preserve them in plaster. Follow the steps below to complete your homemade fossil.
Preserving the Imprints With Plaster
What You Need:
- Playdough imprints in tray
- Plastic milk jug or juice carton
- 2 cups plaster of Paris
- Rubber glove or large spoon
- Small plastic toy animal