How to Make Dinosaur Fossils for Kids

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Making fossils out of clay is more fun than a barrel of prehistoric monkeys, and you’ll feel just like an explorer when you make them. There are two types of fossils you can make: one where an object leaves an impression on the clay, and one where an object is hidden in it. You can make fossils out of practically anything, such as leaves, toy dinosaurs, seashells or chicken bones.

Things You'll Need

  • Air dry clay, terra cotta colored
  • Wax paper
  • Objects to fossilize
(Image: Jonathan Fong)

Step 1

You'll need few materials to make dinosaur fossils. Start with some air dry clay, and add some objects you want to fossilize. Please see the last slide for an itemized list of tools and materials.

(Image: Jonathan Fong)

Step 2

Determine how large a piece of clay you’ll need depending on the object you’ll be using to make an impression. Place the clay between two pieces of wax paper. Press down with the palm of your hand to flatten the clay until it’s large enough to accommodate your object.

(Image: Jonathan Fong)

Step 3

Place your object, in this case, a leaf, on top of the clay. Return the wax paper to the top, and press down firmly so that the leaf makes an impression. Then lift the leaf to reveal the impression. Usually, fossils take tens of thousands of years to start forming, but you’ve just made one in a minute. Let the fossil dry for at least 24 hours, depending on how thick the clay is.

(Image: Jonathan Fong)

Step 4

Experiment with other objects you have around the house. Toys like this plastic spider work great. Just flatten another piece of clay between wax paper, place the spider on top of the clay and press down to make an impression.

(Image: Jonathan Fong)

Step 5

Another way to make a fossil is to completely surround an object with clay. Then you get to break the clay with a hammer to reveal the hidden fossil. Small chicken bones work really well for this type of fossil, and you can pretend it was once a part of a dinosaur. Mold a flattened egg shape out of the clay, and press the chicken bone into it. Then take another flattened egg shape and place it on top of the chicken bone, pressing the sides closed so that the bone is hidden. After the clay dries in about 24 hours, you can break it with a hammer to reveal the undiscovered treasure. This would be a great activity for a party.

Dig up a dinosaur bone
Dig up a dinosaur bone (Image: Jonathan Fong)
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