Play Dough and Fossil Fun

Play dough…it’s one of those words that mothers everywhere aren’t sure how to react when they hear it spoken. It is both dreaded and loved simultaneously. It can keep our kids entertained for long periods of time and provide sensory play as well as be used for educational purposes. On the flip side, it can a create monstrous mess (I hopefully have a cool tip to help you keep this mess to a minimum!) Well, today’s activity involves play dough and plastic bugs! We will be focusing on the idea of fossils.

As I just mentioned, the kids are making their own fossils today. Fossils, are the preserved remains or traces of plants, animals or other organisms from the remote past. These fossils are found preserved usually as petrified mud/rock. Most of the time when we hear the word fossils, we immediate think dinosaurs. Although that is true, fossils can also be of other types of animals, plants, and organisms. We had plastic bugs laying around, so that will be our organism today.

There are only a few items needed to get our Paleontology on, which is the study of the history of past living things aka dinosaurs. These items include play dough, plastic spoon, plastic figurines (bugs, dinosaurs…), and my secret weapon-polyvinyl! Ok, I discovered polyvinyl at Hobby Lobby. I was in line to have some fabric cut and an elderly lady in front of me was having some polyvinyl cut. When I saw her place it on the bench to be cut, I asked her what it was for…this is when she shared the secret with me. Polyvinyl is used on some dining room chairs as well as table cloths to prevent staining. It’s flexible, so easy to work with. I agree that wisdom comes with age. I of course bought 1 yard right away. Once I got home, I cut it into placemat sizes…and voila! Secret weapon ready.

Ok, back to creating fossils. Have your kids pick whatever color play dough and plastic figurine they want to work with. The plastic spoon is just to make it feel more techinical. They can use the spoon to help spread the play dough out. Then they will take the figurine and press down into the play dough. Once they have pressed it pretty good into the play dough, they will carefully lift it up. And behind will be a ‘fossil’. My kids had a blast seeing the impression left behind from the figurine.

Now, you can take this one step further if you want…have your kids go on a nature hunt for items they could use to make fossils. My son picked a rock, of course. So back inside we went to make another fossil. He was excited to make one from a rock he found in our backyard. Letting your kids use their imaginations makes this activity even more exciting!

Here are 2 worksheets to go with all the Fossil fun!


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