Today’s STEAM Activity is becoming a fossil hunter at home! My kids have been really into dinosaurs and paleontology ever since we started watching Dinosaur Train on PBS. If you’ve never seen it, I highly recommend it as educational and entertaining children’s programing. My kids have learned so much about dinosaurs as they follow a pteranodon family that adopted a t-rex. Every episode also features a real paleontologist who talks about his job. 

The latest Lil’ Smore magazine (that I shared in a blog post earlier this week) also featured paleontology and a woman fossil hunter, Mary Anning. This further spiked my kids’ interest to a level that all they have discussed for the last two weeks has been fossils. 

Today I’m sharing how you can become a fossil hunter at home like my kids have done! My son studied the page on Fossil Hunters Tools in his magazine, then gathered as many of the tools as he could find and went out in our backyard for a hunt.

From our May/June 2020 Lil’ Smore Magazine

MATERIALS (all optional):

  • Magnifying glass 
  • Gloves
  • Hat
  • Shovel
  • Notebook 
  • Pencil/Pen
  • Paint brush/Toothbrush

PROCEDURE:

  1. Help your child gather materials they need to do a fossil hunt in your yard or local park. 

2. Head outside and search for treasure. We looked in our backyard, park, and beach for any animal or plant specimens to examine. My kids found rocks they thought might be fossils, feathers, leaves, and more!

Dressed like a fossil hunter and ready to look for fossils
Digging for fossils in our backyard

3. Bring your finds inside and examine them like a paleontologist: carefully clean them with a paint brush or toothbrush, then closely examine their details with a magnifying glass. 

4. Ask your kids to make notes about and/or draw pictures of their discoveries. 

My son set up a fossil hunting workspace for himself in his room to store all his fossils, tools, and notes

5. Repeat the fossil hunt as often as your kids like! 

Fossil hunting at the beach
Showing off a feather, a fossil hunting beach find!

STEAM CONCEPTS LEARNED:

  • Science: Paleontologists find and study fossils. In this activity kids can imagine themselves as paleontologists looking for fossils and treasures, and then carefully examining and taking notes on what they find. 
  • Art: This activity is great imaginative play that is great for building your kids imaginations and creative thinking skills. Also, it’s great to encourage your kids to draw the “fossils” they find. My son is taking notes and drawing sketches of he specimens he finds. 

I hope your kids enjoy becoming fossil hunters at home as much as mine have! Let me know if you try this and what treasures your kids find! 

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