Early Childhood Education: Fossils and Minerals
It can take fossils and other rock formations thousands, even millions of years to develop. Fortunately, with these fun activities, you do not have to wait that long to teach your students how they are created!
1) Record observations using words, pictures, charts, graphs, etc. (e.g. if touching or looking at pictures of fossils, have students draw what they observe on graph paper)
2) Use simple tools to extend investigation. (Use a magnifying glass to explore the crystals of the cave teeth and observe further –see activity below)
?Helpful story book:
Sam & Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen. This is a great book to help get students excited for things found under the dirt!
Activity 1: Fossil Imprints
1) Play-Doh or Model Magic (Model Magic does dry a little better)
2) Sea shells, pinecones or any other kind of natural object that would make a good impression.
3) A flat surface would work best.
Fossils show us what types of animals used to live in our state! This activity will show students how some fossils can be made in the ground.
*It might help to clear off a space for the students to set their impressions when they are all done.
1) Have the students make a thick pancake shape with clay.
2) Students can choose their favorite sea shell or other natural item to press into the clay.
3) When they pull their item out of the clay a nice impression will be left behind.
4) Have your students keep track of the time when everyone finished to when the imprints were dry and hardened. The time spent while the imprints were drying can be compared to millions of years that would be needed to make real fossils.
What kinds of animals/plants did you just make fossils of?
What other kinds of fossils have you seen?
How long do you think it takes to make a fossil?
When you first used the clay it was soft, now how does it feel?
Activity 2: Making Cave Teeth
1) 2 containers (plastic cups work fine)
2) Warm water in a pitcher
4) Table salt
5) 2 paper clips
6) A paper plate
Just like it takes a lot of time to create fossils in the ground, it also takes a lot of time for rock formations like cave stalactites to form. This experiment will speed up the process to show students how some rock formations can be created in nature.
1) Fill both containers with warm water.
2) Mix in table salt. The amount of salt will depend on how big your containers are, but don’t be afraid to add a lot!
3) Mix the salt with the water until it has disappeared.
4) Place one container on either side of the paper plate.
5) Wet a length of string (enough to reach into both containers with some slack between) with water and place one end of the string in each container with the paperclips holding each end down in the container. Make sure the string hangs slightly down between the containers to allow a small drip to start.
6) Over time (maybe a few days) the drip from the water in the jars will leave behind salts on the string and create a stalactite. Also, look on the bottom of the plate because you might have stalagmites that formed as well!
7) When you begin your drip keep track of the time with your students. The time spent with the formation of the stalactite can be compared to thousands of years.
Have you ever been to or seen a cave before?
What do you think stalactites/cave teeth are made of?
Do you think that it takes a long time to make them?