Finding Fossils

fossil, activity, craft, extinction, kids, educationHow do we know about dinosaurs when they went extinct long before humans were around? One way is through imprint fossils!! These fossils give us clues about species that lived in the distant past and what the ancient world was like. Create your own fossil record of species that are endangered today and explore the world we are at risk of losing if we don’t work to Bring Back the Wild.

What you need:

  • Items to make impressions with. (Be sure to collect items that are not alive; make imprint fossils of plants by using seeds or leaves and create imprint fossils of an animal skeleton by using fish bones or pine needles).
  • Cornstarch
  • Baking soda
  • Water
  • Salt
  • Cooking pot
  • Baking pan
  • Use of a stove (ensure an adult is present)
  • Wax paper

What you need to do:

  1. Decide what you want your fossil imprint to be. You can make an impression of a plant, an insect, or even an endangered species (you’ll have to use your imagination on that one).
  2. Now  think about how you could leave an impression.  For example, a stick might make a good impression of what a peregrine falcon foot might look like.
  3. Once your imprint is ready, the real fun begins.
  4. Mix ½ cup cornstarch, 1 cup of baking soda, 1 cup of water and a teaspoon of salt together in a pot. The mixture should look like milk.
  5. Place the pot on a burner over medium heat and let it bubble stirring occasionally. Continue cooking as the mixture thickens until it looks like runny mash potatoes (about 15 minutes).
  6. Scoop the mixture out onto the wax paper in a few different piles and let it cool.
  7. Once the piles are cool enough to touch, press items into the dough. Put another piece of wax paper over top and press down evenly over the whole fossil. Remove the top piece of wax paper and let the fossil sit overnight.
  8. The next day remove the items from the dough, for more fragile pieces, like a leaf, use tweezers. Carefully remove the wax paper and place your fossils on a baking sheet. Bake fossils in the oven at 350F for about 20 minutes (Make sure an adult helps you use the oven).

Now Hide and Explore!!

Place your fossils around your backyard or in the park, then go prepare for an expedition. Become an explorer from the future and go on a fossil hunt to discover what the earth was like millions of years ago, and think about what caused these species to go extinct in our lifetime!!

Extra Tips and Tricks

  • While you are out exploring, see if you can find other fossils that were made in nature and start a collection. (Make sure you are not in a protected area that prohibits visitors from removing items).
  • To jazz up your fossil colour them using paint or markers.
  • Learn more about endangered species in Extinction is Forever
Earth Rangers is a non-profit organization that works to inspire and educate children about the environment. At kids can play games, discover amazing facts, meet animal ambassadors and fundraise to protect biodiversity.