Day 3: Fossils & Dinosaurs
Overview: Day 3 is all about fossils and dinosaurs! The lesson appeals to the Verbal-Linguistic, Logical-Mathematical, Visual-Spatial, Bodily-Kinesthetic, Intrapersonal and Naturalistic intelligences.
- Cardboard dinosaur fossils or 3-dimensional dinosaur puzzles. Templates are available here.
- Dirt or sand
- Excavation tools (shovels, spoons, toothbrushes, etc.)
- Real fossils (you can purchase individual fossils or large fossil kits from Amazon, Science Kit, or Ward’s Natural Science)
- Magnifying glass
- Water or garden hose
- Ranger Cookies. Recipe is available here.
- Examining tools like toothpicks or a fork.
- Science Journals. We’ll be using little books folded out of paper.
- KWL chart and marker
- Cut dinosaur fossils out of cardboard (templates are available here) or buy 3-dimensional dinosaur puzzles.
- Bury dinosaur fossils in dirt or sand.
- Make Ranger Cookies. Recipe is available here.
- Today you’re going to start out working as a paleontologist! Paleontologists study things that lived a long time ago. I have dinosaur fossils buried in this dirt! Here are some tools to dig them out. When you find them, carefully place them in a pile here. Give your child some time to dig for the bones. They can use shovels or spoons or toothbrushes. As they dig, talk about how fossils form. “A long, long, time ago a dinosaur died in this dirt! The dirt hardened into mud and eventually turned into a rock. The dinosaur bones also became a rock! Now, we can dig them out of the ground.” We actually came very close to not finding one of the bones, which gave us a chance to talk about how sometimes scientists only find partial skeletons.
- Wow! Look at all the bones you found! Paleontologists take the bones they find and put them together the way they think dinosaurs looked. It’s kind of like a puzzle. Give your child a chance to put the dinosaur together. If she really struggles with the 3-dimensional aspect of the puzzles, show her how one set of arms or legs fits into the body. Then give her some time to try again. She will be thrilled when she makes it stand up!
- Let’s look at some real fossils now! Point out where 1-2 fossils are on the rocks and then let your child find fossils on the other rocks. Let her look at the fossils through a magnifying glass. Ask what similarities she sees between the fossils and the rest of the rocks. What differences does she see?
- Let’s make our own fossils! Use noodles to represent dinosaur bones. Go outside and use the hose to make a nice pile of mud. Let your child fill a bucket or pan about ¼ - ½ full of mud. Let her place the “dinosaur bones” in the mud and then cover it with another pile of mud. Make sure it is dry enough that it will hold together if you dump it out. You may need to let her add some more dry dirt. Dump it out it in the sun to “cook” until it is nice and hard. Once it’s dried out, let her find her bones! (Yes, another excavation project!)
- What do you think a paleontologist is? (Of course, by now you’ve used that word a dozen times outside, inside, and anywhere else you’ve been!) Paleontologists study things that lived a long time ago. One thing they do is study everything they can find inside of fossils. My last challenge for my little paleontologist is to examine this cookie and see if you can figure out what I put in it! Give your child toothpicks, a fork, or any other “tools” and let her figure out what goodies you put in the cookie! When she’s done, let her eat it. J
- Re-visit the KWL chart (if you have one) and write down what you learned today.
- Let your child draw or write about what she did today in her Science Notebook.
Extra! Extra! (If you and your kiddo have time and interest! Note: Supplies needed for Extra! Activities are NOT included in the Supply List.)
- If you have enough real fossils, have your child sort them into piles based on similarities she observes.
- Make a pan of jello. Just before it finishes setting up, stir in “fossils” like different pieces of fruit, small candies, raisins, or marshmallows. Let your child be the paleontologist again and dig out the edible bones.
- Freeze a toy dinosaur in a cup of water. Let your child paleontologist dig out the dinosaur indoors or outdoors!