National Fossil Day™   Explore Nature
National Park Service
U.S. Department of the Interior

Educational Activities

Junior Paleontologist book and materials
The Junior Paleontologist activity booklet has activities for children ages 5 to 12 years old.
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Celebrate National Fossil Day with an educational activity any day of the year!

Learn about our nation's fossils at home or in the classroom with these activities developed by education specialists in the National Park Service, fossil sites, and various museums. Some of the activities have a site-specific element that can be adapted for use at home or in the classroom. In some cases, a virtual site visit may be possible using resources on the internet. Another option is to substitute a visit to a local fossil site to create a similar outdoor experience.

Vote for your favorite educational activity—Contact us to let us know what your favorite activity on this page is, and we will tally the votes to let others know what works.

Art

Print and Cast (Grades 3 - 6)

In this activity, developed by Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve, students create their own print and cast.

Let's make a Fossil #1, Bryce Canyon National Park GeoDetectives (Grade 4)

Presents an idea most people associate with fossil production, permineralization. This process forms petrified wood and preserves animals' hard parts.

Let's make a Fossil #2, Bryce Canyon National Park GeoDetectives (Grade 4)

Presents two common types of fossils, molds and casts. Students make a mold and cast. From these new fossils they describe information about the object that created the fossil.

Meet My Pet Fossil, Rocky (Grades 6 - 8)

In this activity, developed by Carlsbad Caverns National Park, students will make a plaster-of-Paris fossil.

Geology Field Trip at Dinosaur National Monument (Grades 6 - 10)

Students will learn about the dinosaur fossils discovered at the monument and the geology of the Uinta Mountains. Students will sketch and label a dinosaur fossil and construct a cross section of the Uinta Mountains. Both activities are accompanied by a series of essay style questions.

The Paleontologist's Path (Grades 1 - 3)

This series of activities developed by Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument is designed to be downloaded by teachers and used in the classroom. Students will learn how to identify and catalogue fossils by taking measurements, sketching and making comparisons.

Geology, Relatives, and Time (Grades 9 - 12)

This classroom activity, developed by Fossil Butte National Monument, has students construct a three or four generation family tree which mimics the major divisions of the geologic time scale (Precambrian, Paleozoic, Mesozoic, and Cenozoic).

Paleontology Lesson Plans from Grand Canyon National Park (Grades 3 - 4)

Paleontology activities include "Make a fossil" on page GEO-28 and the "Fossilization Game" on page GEO-30.

Make Your Own Fossil (Grades 4 - 6)

In this activity, created by Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, students will create an imitation fossil using clay. There are ideas for extending the lesson at the end of the activity.

 

History

Rockin' Through The Ages, Petrified Forest National Park (Grades 4 - 8)

Rockin Through the Ages consists of a paleontology module and an archeology module.  The paleontology module contains 8 lesson plans covering various topics from the science of paleontology, including paleontologic skills and concepts, to the history of the National Park Service and its role in preserving and protecting fossil resources.

Math

The Paleontologist's Path (Grades 1 - 3)

This series of activities developed by Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument is designed to be downloaded by teachers and used in the classroom. Students will learn how to identify and catalogue fossils by taking measurements, sketching and making comparisons.

Reading and Writing

Paleontology Crossword Puzzle (Grades 3-6)

This activity, developed by Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve, introduces students to paleontology and the concept of geologic time. Students will use their new vocabulary to complete the crossword puzzle.

Fossils in Alaska Word Search (Grades 3 - 6)

In this activity, developed by Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve, students test their retention and vocabulary through a word search on paleontology in Alaska.

Follow a Fossil (Grades 6 - 8)

In this activity, developed by Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve, students read online about the process from prospecting to exhibiting.

Fossil Futures (Grades 4 - 8)

In this activity, developed by Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve, students research recent paleontology discoveries in the news.

When Did They First Appear? (Grades 4-8)

In this activity, developed by Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve, students research when different organisms first appeared on Earth.

Fossil Exhibit Trail Worksheet at Badlands National Park (Grades 6 - 10)

The Fossil Exhibit Trail is a 1/4 mile boardwalk loop with replicas of fossils discovered in the badlands displayed along the way. Students can complete this worksheet as they travel along the trail.

Word Searches from Badlands National Park (Grades 2 - 5)

Test your skill at solving puzzles! When you are finished check your answers against the solutions.
Fossil Fun Word Search | Solution
Fossil Find Word Search | Solution

Fossil Trading Cards from Badlands National Park (Grades 2 -8)

Learn about the ancient mammals of the Badlands. Fossil trading cards can be used to help answer some of the Fossil Exhibit Trail Worksheet questions.

Geology Field Trip at Dinosaur National Monument (Grades 6 - 10)

Students will learn about the dinosaur fossils discovered at the monument and the geology of the Uinta Mountains. Students will sketch and label a dinosaur fossil and construct a cross section of the Uinta Mountains. Both activities are accompanied by a series of essay style questions.

Observation and Inference, Keys to the Past (Grades 9 - 12)

This activity, developed by Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, is designed to be downloaded by teachers and used in the classroom. Students will read a series of statements and determine if they are observations or inferences.

Science Inquiry

Hadrosaur Adaptations (Grades 4 - 8)

In this activity, developed by Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve, students learn about the diversity of adaptations and their importance for survival of the species. This acitivity focuses on the adapations of Hadrosaurs.

Fossils Across America (Grades 4 - 8)

In this activity, developed by Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve, students discover which geologic periods are best protected by national parks and where these parks are.

Fossil Hunting in Alaska (Grades 4 - 8)

In this activity, developed by Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve, students use a geologic map of Alaska to plan where to hunt fossils.

Cookie Excavation (Grades 3 - 6)

In this activity, developed by Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve, students will do a hands-on excavation of chips from different types of cookies.

Paleontologist Activity (Grades 5 - 9)

In this activity, developed by Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve, students are paleontologists planning an expedition to uncover new evidence as to why the dinosaurs went extinct.

Badlands in Your Classroom Videos (Grades K-8)

Students gain an understanding and appreciation of Badlands Earth history by watching a 6-minute ranger video and completing the suggested activities.

Fossil Exhibit Trail Worksheet at Badlands National Park (Grades 6-10)

The Fossil Exhibit Trail is a 1/4 mile boardwalk loop with replicas of fossils discovered in the badlands displayed along the way. Students can complete this worksheet as they travel along the trail.

Paleontologist for a day at Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area (Grades 5 - 8)

Students will explore the Horseshoe Bend area with a Park Ranger, identifying the geologic layers and fossils that can be found.

Fascinating Fossils at Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP and Curecanti NRA (Grade 2)

Students will learn about the different types of fossils and how fossilization occurs. This unit includes pre- and post-visit activities for the classroom.
Pre/Post Visit Activities

How Do You Make a Fossil? (Grades 4 - 8)

In this activity, developed by Bryce Canyon National Park, students will simulate fossil formation and use the internet to research Earth's past.

Threads of Life, Bryce Canyon National Park GeoDetectives (Grade 4)

Explains fossil associations, as well as when they appeared and disappeared through Earth's history.

Putting it all Together, Bryce Canyon National Park GeoDetectives (Grade 4)

Takes students through a paleontology dig and the difficulties of deciphering the information presented by the fossils.

Reading the Chapters of Time, Bryce Canyon National Park GeoDetectives (Grade 4)

Uses information learned about fossils throughout the unit to decipher the age of rocks and determine rock layers.

Fossil Form and Function, Bryce Canyon National Park GeoDetectives (Grade 4)

This activity helps students understand how paleontologists determine the way a dinosaur lived, what it ate, etc. by creating an animal from fossilized parts.

Tracking Paleo-Animals, Bryce Canyon National Park GeoDetectives (Grade 4)

Presents students with a chance to develop their skills as paleontologists analyzing fossilized tracks.

Fossil Hunt at Cumberland Island National Seashore (Grade 3)

Hands-on fossil activity! Students will search for fossils in the spoil piles located inside Cumberland Island National Seashore. Students will determine what parts of an organism or evidence of life would most likely be preserved as a fossil. Students will then search for those types of fossils in the spoil piles and attempt to identify them as a group.

Geology Field Trip at Dinosaur National Monument (Grades 6 - 10)

Students will learn about the dinosaur fossils discovered at the monument and the geology of the Uinta Mountains. Students will sketch and label a dinosaur fossil and construct a cross section of the Uinta Mountains. Both activities are accompanied by a series of essay style questions.

The Paleontologist's Path (Grades 1 - 3)

This series of activities developed by Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument is designed to be downloaded by teachers and used in the classroom. Students will learn how to identify and catalogue fossils by taking measurements, sketching and making comparisons.

The Paleontologist's Path (Grades 4 - 6)

This series of activities developed by Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument is designed to be downloaded by teachers and used in the classroom. Students will learn about plant leaf characteristics and how this relates to the climate in which they grow.

The Paleontologist's Path (Grades 7 - 12)

This series of activities developed by Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument is designed to be downloaded by teachers and used in the classroom. Students will idenitfy fossil plants and learn about the scientific process.

Observation and Inference, Keys to the Past (Grades 9 - 12)

This activity, developed by Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, is designed to be downloaded by teachers and used in the classroom. Students will read a series of statements and determine if they are observations or inferences.

High School Paleontology Unit, Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument

In this unit, students will explore tree rings, fossil and climate change with particular emphasis on the history of the Florissant Valley. This unit includes 9 related lessons and a final exam.

High School Evolution Unit, Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument

In this unit, students will examine the evolutionary process, review adaptations, and make their own fossil mold. This unit includes 10 related lessons and a final exam.

High School Nature of Science Unit, Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument

Topics Covered: Scientific Hypothesis, Observation and Inference, Qualitative and Quantitive Observations. This unit includes 10 related lessons and a final exam.

Paleontology Lesson Plans from Grand Canyon National Park (Grades 3 - 4)

Paleontology activities include "Make a fossil" on page GEO-28 and the "Fossilization Game" on page GEO-30.

The Road to Fossilization, Fossil Butte National Monument (All Ages)

This 11"x17" poster invites students to learn what fossils are, how they form and what happens to them by following the "Road to Fossilization".

Junior Ranger Programs with Fossils

Channel Islands National Park, CA, Junior Ranger Booklets (Grades K-8)

The Junior Ranger Program at Channel Islands helps children discover and protect the wonders of the islands. These booklets are filled with activities to be completed at the park as well as some take-home activities. Children can print the booklets out, complete them and mail them to the park to earn a junior ranger badge.

National Park Service, Junior Paleontologist Activity Booklet (Ages 5-12)

The Junior Paleontologist booklet is available on-line and at several fossil parks. In order to earn a junior paleontologist badge students must turn the completed booklet in to a ranger at participating fossil park visitor center.

Petrified Forest National Park, AZ, Junior Ranger Activity Booklet (Grades K-8)

This booklet is filled with activities that can be completed at the park or in the classroom. In order to earn a junior ranger badge students must turn the completed booklet in to a ranger at the park visitor center.


More to come...

Many activities are in the planning stage. Please check back soon.

To add your organization's educational activity to this page, please contact us with information about your activity.

Last updated: August 30, 2011