Fun Science and History Experiment: How To Make a Fossil

Have you ever been out on a riverbank or hillside, and stumbled across a fossil?  What is it about fossils that fill us with immediate awe and cause us to contemplate the passing of time?  Maybe the reason they capture our attention so well is the sense of mystery surrounding them.  What time period was this particular fossil alive in?  What did its surroundings look like?  What kind of organisms were alive and nearby then?

Fun Science and History Experiment: How to Make a Fossil

Fossils combine two very interesting fields: Science and History.  The beauty of both of these fields is that they cause us to question things that we usually take for granted.  As we well know, children are the most engaged when  they’re given hands-on activities to take part in.  Teach your child about fossils, and instill in them a life-long fascination with the life that came before us.

Making fossils is a great way to get your child involved in science and history in a creative, fun fashion. It’s cheap and easy to create your own replicas with a minimum of skill and material. Get started today with these simple steps.

How to Make a Fossil: Step 1

Step 1: Gather your materials. This can get a little messy (especially if there are children around), so lay down some newspapers, put away any objects you don’t want to get gooey, and grab your essentials. You’ll need:

  • A small natural object (shell, leaf, bone, etc.)
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Plaster of Paris
  • Water
  • Small disposable dish or Tupperware container (such as a margarine tub)

How to Make a Fossil: Step 2
Step 2: Choose the object you want to make a fossil of. Any object from nature works — shells, leafs, and animal bones are all good choices. If you do choose a leaf, make sure it’s not dry and crackly. It must also fit in your container!

How to Make a Fossil: Step 3

Step 3: Coat the object with petroleum jelly. This will keep the object from sticking to the plaster when you try to remove it. Coat it thoroughly!

How to Make a Fossil: Step 4
Step 4: Mix plaster and water in a bowl. Follow the directions on the plaster of Paris packaging. Mix them together thoroughly and let the concoction sit for a few minutes without stirring.

  • You should need about 2x more water than plaster, but you can adjust the ratio as you see fit.

How to Make a Fossil
Step 5: Press the object into the plaster of Paris. Be careful not to push too hard! Now your part is done; all it has to do is dry. Set it aside and revisit it tomorrow; drying will take at least one day.

How to Make a Fossil

Step 6: Remove the object. After you’ve waited 24 hours, pop your natural item out of the plaster of Paris and voila! There’s your fossil! It’s just like a shell was enveloped in soil for thousands of years, disintegrated, and left behind this image.

For other hands-on and fun Science activities, you won’t want to miss our ultimate Science collection!   Learning has never been this much fun.


The instructional portion of this article was provided by wikihow, a wiki building the world’s largest, highest quality how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Make a Fossil.  Content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons License.


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