Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Fossils without a Kiln

Not having a kiln does not need to be a barrier to making things out of clay. The beauty about it is you work with the process, allowing the clay to disintegrate naturally in the environment means the clay can go back to its natural state.

All young children LOVE learning about dinosaurs, and what better way than to have an activity on making fossils. Surrounding this activity can be a discussion about the environment; how fossils come to be, and talk about the role of archaeologists.

Difficulty: Easy
Ages: 3-5(Early Childhood)

What you need:
  • Clay (your choice, I have used porcelain as that is what I had, as well makes for a lovely smooth product, but you could use Raku or Terracotta as it is grainy and redy-brown in colour).
  • Not stick surface such as plastic cooking mats
  • Rolling pin
  • Small plastic animal objects to embed in clay
  • Paint (optional) with brushes
What to do:

Part 1
  1. Start by talking about dinosaurs and fossils and talk about the properties of clay
Part 2
  1. Give students a lump of clay about the size of their fist -get them to feel and play with it
  2. Get students to either 'pat pat pat' (younger ones) or use a rolling pin to flatten the clay no less than 1cm (it is not necessary for them to roll it into a ball first as the jagged edges adds to the look)
  3. Get the students to press into the clay their object (profile of object best or they can do feet too) -about half the object needs to be pressed into clay
  4. Allow clay to dry -this may take up to 24hrs. Clay is still drying if it feels cold to touch and when dry the colour changes.
  5. Get students to paint fossil if desired -natural earthy colours or bright colours for fun
Part 3
  1. Once fossils are dry, hide the fossils in the sand pit (alternatively a hide and seek in the garden)
  2. Talk about the role of archaeologists and get students to explore the sand pit for their own fossil
Links to Curriculum:
  • Subjects: Science, Geography, History, Art
  • Development of fine motor skill, aids touch and tactile recognition, imagination development through role play, connection to environment 
  • Cross-curriculum priorities -Sustainability

    Further information and resources such as videos can be found on the Queensland Museum website

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