What is a Fossil?

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In this activity about dinosaurs, learners explore how and why fossils form. First, learners are introduced to dinosaur fossils by reading the book "Bones, Bones, Dinosaur Bones" by Byron Barton. Then, learners make impressions in clay using a seashell, pennies, dinosaur teeth and other items. Next, learners make dinosaur tracks in the clay as they "walk" plastic models across the soft clay. Learners also use sponges pre-cut in the shape of dinosaur feet to make more tracks. This activity is featured on page 29 of the "Dinosphere" unit of study for K-2 learners.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 4 - 6

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth's History
      • Fossils
      • Dinosaurs
  • Life Sciences
    • Diversity of Life
      • Animals
    • Evolution

Informal Categories

  • Animals
  • Arts and Crafts
  • Literature
  • Toys


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Links STEM to other topics of interest such as arts and humanities
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, The Children's Museum of Indianapolis, 2004