I teach a STEM enrichment class for preschool and elementary age kids. Last year in our dinosaur themed class, we buried pasta “bones” in the sand in the sensory bin and had kids dig up the “fossils.” This year, I discovered you can easily buy real fossils for cheap. This Fossil Sorting Kit has 2 pounds of fossils that are around 300 million years old, and you can order them for $19… cheaper than a Shopkins 20 pack!
Here’s what they looked like straight out of the box (click on any photo for a larger image):
They were a little dusty (as would be expected), and I wanted good photos, so I gave them a quick scrub with a veggie brush, and a solution that was one part vinegar, 10 parts water, then rinsed. Here they are after cleaning…. there’s about 95 fossils.
The kit included an identification guide. You can see it at https://s3.amazonaws.com/cdn.teachersource.com/downloads/lesson_pdf/FSL-800.pdf. Based on it, the kit included about: 9 brachiopods, 4 rocks with fossil fragments, 10 gastropods, 13 snails, 9 ammonites, 15 orthoceras, 20 crinoid stems, 12 pieces of coral. There weren’t any trilobites.
We put these in the sensory bin with sand and paintbrushes, and the identification guide on a table nearby. Our three to four year old students mostly just played in the sand. Our older kids (age 5 – 7) found and cleaned fossils and used the guide to identify some.
For lots of cheap, easy, hands-on science experiments for kids, just click on any of the links in the right hand side bar. (Or the bottom of the page on mobile devices.)