Make some do-it-yourself fossils.

©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Do-It-Yourself Fossils for Kids

Leave your mark on the world (or at least on plaster) when you create your own do-it-yourself "fossils" for kids.

What You'll Need:
  • Small natural object (shell, leaf, bone, etc.)
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Plaster of Paris
  • Water
  • Small disposable dish (such as a margarine tub)

Fossils are imprints of plants and animals found in rocks. Here is one way fossils are made in nature: A leaf falls into wet, sandy ground. A flood deposits more sandy soil on top of the leaf, so that it is trapped there. Over thousands of years, the leaf decays and disappears. But as the sandy soil hardens into rock, the impression made by the leaf is left in the rock. You can see how fossils are created by making your own.

Step 1: Choose an object to make a fossil of. It could be a shell, a leaf, an animal bone, or another object from nature.

Step 2: Coat the object with petroleum jelly.

Step 3: Next, pour some plaster of Paris and some water in a small dish. Mix them together well. Let the plaster of Paris and water sit for a few minutes, without stirring them.

Step 4: Press the object into the plaster of Paris and let everything dry. This will take at least one day.

Step 5: When the plaster of Paris is completely dry, remove the object. The impression left behind is like a fossil.

To make another practical gift out of natural objects, go to the next page to learn how to make fire-starting pine cones.

For more ideas on nature-related crafts and activities to do with kids, see: