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Fossil Lesson Plan

Lesson Title: Trace, Mold, and Cast Fossil Creation

Grade Level: 4th
State Standards Connection:
Intended Learning Outcome
ILO 2 – Manifest Scientific Attitudes and Interests
ILO 2; Objective A – Demonstrate a sense of curiosity about nature.
ILO 2; Objective B – Pose questions about objects, events, and processes.
Content Standard
Standard 4 – Students will understand how fossils are formed, where they may be
found in Utah, and how they can be used to make inferences.
Standard 4; Objective 1 – Describe Utah fossils and explain how they
were formed.
Indicator – Describe three ways fossils are formed in sedimentary rock
(i.e. preserved organisms, mineral replacement of organisms, impression.
Specific Lesson Objective:
Students will create models of fossils and will describe what type of fossil it is and why.
Lesson Purpose:
Students will be able to observe the world around them and make some hypotheses.
Students will be able to communicate thoughts about Science incorporating subject
specific vocabulary.
Vocabulary Focus: fossil, trace, mold, sedimentary rock
 Fossil Packet
 Types of Fossils worksheet
 Scissors
 Glue
 Pencils
 Permanent marker
 Medium sized plastic cup
 Sea shells
 Water source
 Clay
 Plaster mix
 Small Dixie cups
 Popsicle sticks
 Vaseline
 Baby powder
Anticipated Time Frame: Three class days covering 30 minutes each

Instructional Procedures
Engage and Launch (15 minutes total): Have students be seated at their desks and review the
rules for being able to do fun activities, disclose that we will be making our own fossils. Have a
quick discussion on what the class learned the previous day about amber fossils. Ask students if
they know anything about trace fossils or mold and cast fossils. Fill out K-W-L chart in Fossil
packet during second day. On continuing days assess grasp of knowledge and remind students
what we are working on.
Teacher Role: Pose problems, ask questions, assess prior knowledge, and provide
information for next phase...
Student Role: Has an interest, develops a need to know, calls up prior knowledge...
Explore (1 hour total): Students will follow along as the teacher reads two passages in the Fossil
packet, one about trace fossils and one about mold fossils. Continue with discussion, answer
questions from students, and write down questions that you are unable to answer to be researched
and brought back into discussion later. Give directions for making fossils. Model steps as you go
when able/necessary.
Students will get a plastic cup and should each write their name on the outside of the cup.
Students will also get a small chunk of clay and a toothpick. Students should push the clay down
into the bottom of the cup to make a flat surface. Using the toothpick, the students will draw an
outline of some kind; a picture, lines, or an animal track. When they are done they can come to
the back of the classroom where they will receive a smaller cup containing the plaster mix,
water, and a popsicle stick for stirring. Students will go back to their seat, stir the mixture to a
pancake batter consistency and pour it into their cup with clay. Then, students will get a sea shell
and some Vaseline to rub on the outer side of the sea shell. Wait 5 minutes, or until somewhat
firm, and press the sea shell bulbous side down into the plaster. Wait a minute or two and take
the shell out, leaving an indent. Place cups on back counter to dry for the next day.
The next day, students will collect their cups with the half-finished fossils inside. These
should be completely hardened. Each cup will have had baby powder sprinkled on top to ensure
an easy separation of the two sides when complete. They will poor more liquid plaster over the
hardened half to create the cast portion. They will wait about 5 minutes and push a leaf into the
plaster and lift it off to create another trace fossil. They will set it to the side of the room to again
let it dry.
The final day, students will be able to take their entire fossil out of the cup. They will get
to take it apart and will examine the different types of fossils that they see. They will discuss
with peers what theirs looks like and how well the fossil turned out. Students will answer the
questions for these types of fossils in their Fossils packet.
Teacher Role: Questions and probes, provides feedback, assesses processes and
understandings, walks around the room, and makes open suggestions.
Student Role: Explores resources and materials, plans, predicts, observes, and
Explain/Summarize (15 min): Call students to attention. Have volunteers explain what
they observed during the activity. Have a student led discussion and hear answers to the
questions in the Fossil packet.
For students who finish early on any of the days have them clean up and then cut out the
diagram and pictures on the Types of Fossils worksheet. Have students glue the diagram in their
Fossil packet and glue the corresponding pictures onto the diagram.

Teacher Role: Ask for evidence and clarification from students, enhances or clarifies
students’ explanations, reviews vocabulary, evaluates students’ explanations, and ask questions
to produce critical thinking.
Student Role: Clarifies understandings, shares feedback, forms generalizations and
opinions, seeks new explanations, seeks change.
Elaborate/Extend (At home): Have students look up any question that they were unable to get
answered during class. Bring the answer back to class the next day.
Teacher Role: Ask questions, evaluates explanations, provides feedback, and offers
solutions to posed questions.
Student Role: Communicates understandings using discussion and carries out new
Evaluate/Assess (throughout): Ongoing assessment, walking around during the activity. Notice
who is struggling and provide extra assistance. Informal assessment in the form of discussion.
The fossil packet will be the formal assessment.
Teacher Role: Evaluate students’ process skills and understanding of concepts, formative
and summative.
Student Role: Show what has been learned
Adaptations for Gifted/Talented: Students write down what they are observing, have extra
resources for them to look through, have them look up more in depth questions and relay to the
class what they find, call on them to explain what they observed…
Adaptations for ELL: Put pictures on document camera, enlarge pictures and text, place with
students who work well with them, give them the ability to work fully hands on, model each
step, give one-on-one directions with added detail, give more time to explain what they have
Adaptations for Special Education: Put pictures on document camera, enlarge text, group
students who need more assistance with peers who grasp the assignment, give more time, model
each step…