Pre-K Science Activity Plan- Paleontology

Dig This!

Goal of the Activity: The goal of this activity is to teach children that scientists learn by exploring their environment in different ways by allowing them to participate in their own unique scientific exploration.


· Children will show improved gross and fine motor skills by digging for, brushing, and examining “fossils”.

· Children will demonstrate their knowledge of archaeology by excavating the fossils.

· Children will show their writing skills by recording information about the fossils they find.

· Children will demonstrate their verbal abilities by describing the fossils they find.

Rationale for the Activity: This science activity will allow children to document their scientific experience to help them reflect on what they learned (DAP,p.141). It also gives children the opportunity to learn about life science and earth science (DAP,p.173).

Learning Standard(s): Georgia PreK Learning Standard SD1: Children will use processes of science to actively explore and increase understanding of the environment.

Amount of Time Needed for Activity:Set up: 15 minutes; Activity: 30-45 minutes

Materials Needed:

· Sandbox

· At least 20 cleaned chicken bones, dog bones, toy bones, or toy dinosaurs

· 6 small shovels

· 6 paintbrushes

· 6 magnifying glasses

· 6 notebooks

· 6 pencils

· 1 or 2 digital cameras

· Photos of fossils, dinosaurs, dinosaur bones, and paleontologists on excavations

Space Needed: An outdoor area with a large sandbox or an indoor sensory table filled with sand with room for five or six children.


Detailed Procedure:

  1. Bury the “fossils” in the sandbox at different levels and areas.
  2. Lay out tools that children can use to dig up and examine the fossils.
  3. Discuss fossils and explain what paleontologists do as you show pictures of them.

Does anyone know what a fossil is?

Fossils are remains of a plant or animal that lived a very long time ago. It could be a bone, teeth, or a footprint or a marking from a plant. Fossils are hard like rocks and are buried in the dirt or sand and sometimes under the ocean.

What animals could there be fossils of? Dinosaurs?

There are people that study fossils to learn about really old animals and plants. They are called paleontologists. Can you say “paleontologist”?

  1. Explain the activity to the children.

Today we’re going to pretend we are paleontologists.

We are going to look for fossils in the sandbox!

Use the shovels to dig around and look for the fossils. When you find one, be very gentle and dust the sand off with a brush.

Use the camera to take a picture of what you find and write about it in your notebook. You can draw a picture or describe your fossil.

  1. Take the children outside and let them use the tools to dig around. When a child finds a fossil, encourage him/her to document it with the notebook and camera.

When paleontologists find a fossil, they take pictures and take notes about it. That way they can share their fossil with others so everyone can learn.

How could you describe your fossil? What color is it? How big is it? Is it smooth, rough, heavy, light? What animal could it be from?

  1. After everyone has found and documented a fossil, collect the photos and field notes. Display them on a classroom wall or in a paleontology class book. Allow the children to share their finds with the class.

Does someone want to tell us about the fossil they found? What did you write about it in your notes? What animal do you think it is from?

Adaptations and Extensions:

  • To encourage dramatic play, provide safari-type hats, khaki vests with pockets, glasses, homemade Jeep, etc. so that children can pretend they are paleontologists.
  • To integrate art into this activity, have the children make fossils out of coffee grounds the day before the dig activity. []
  • For children in wheelchairs, do this activity at the sensory table that they can easily reach.
  • To integrate math, have the children measure the bones with rulers, tape measures, and scales. Record the data in a class chart to put on display.
  • The hidden fossils could be wooden pieces of a 3D dinosaur puzzle so that children can put the pieces together as a class once all the bones are found.

This activity was created by K. McMichael, CHFD 5230 student, University of Georgia.

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Comments 3 comments

KristenGrace profile image

KristenGrace 5 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

Wonderful lesson!! I JUST taught this with my Kindergarten class last week, indoors, and they adored it. They could say "paleontologists" :)

kmcmichael profile image

kmcmichael 5 years ago from Athens, Georgia Author

So cute! I wrote this for an early childhood ed class last semester and did the activity with a pre-k class. they loved it!

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