7. Fossil Adventure - Lesson Plan

Lesson Plan

  1. Have students write down on a piece of paper: what they know about fossils and what questions they have about fossils.
  2. Spend 5 minutes allowing students to share what they know and the questions they have. You may want to write up some of their questions and knowledge on the board.
  3. Summarize their responses into a general definition of “fossil” – the preserved remains of past life on earth or traces of their existence. Students may write this definition in their notes.
  4. Next, tell students about the different types of fossils that might form: body, trace, mold, and cast fossils. As you describe each type, show students pictures of fossils and describe how each are formed. This is also an opportunity to review how sedimentary rocks form and the similarities between sedimentary rock formation and permineralization. You can model the formation of cast and mold fossils using clay or Playdoh (make an imprint of your hand in clay or Playdoh and discuss how part of a plant or animal might create an imprint in mud or sediment).
  5. Discuss what different kinds of information one might learn from body fossils such as a bone, trace fossils such as footprints or a nest, and mold/cast fossils such as plants. Throughout this discussion answer relevant questions from the students’ list.
  6. Close this introductory portion by reviewing the process of permineralization and point out all the ways this process could be set off course – decomposed by bacteria, destroyed by scavengers, weathered to dust, crushed by too many layers of sediment, uncovered before fossilization, destroyed by earth forces, never uncovered by erosion, uncovered by erosion but washed away or eroded before being discovered, etc.
  7. Finally, tell students that they will now put together a “choose your own adventure story” about fossil formation. A T rex has died and many things can happen to the carcass, only one of which leads to becoming a fossil. To make a very simple book, students should cut out each page of the story, assemble it by the page numbers at the bottom of each page, and then staple the pages together. If you want your students to illustrate the book, they can draw a picture on the back of the page before. Alternatively, take 3 sheets of regular 8.5 X 11 paper and fold them in half “hamburger-style.” The text for each page can be cut from the templates and pasted on the pages of your booklet. The remaining portion of each page can be used for illustration. For an even greater challenge, have students add their own “extra credit” pages with additional scenarios for their T rex skeleton. Students can have the rest of the class period to create their books.