Lesson Plan

Paleo Fossil Cookie Dig

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Grade Level:
First Grade-Fifth Grade
1 hour
Group Size:
Up to 24 (4-8 breakout groups)


In this lesson, students will explore "fossils" by using chocolate chip cookies in an interactive fossil dig! Through creative problem-based learning that incorporates teamwork, students will work in collaborative groups to create an informational presentation about paleontology.

After completing this group project, the students will be able to relate to paleontologists while understanding the significance of paleontology.


1.) The students will identify and learn vocabulary relating to a fossil dig.
2.) The student will be able to describe the care which scientists must use  
while excavating fossils.
.) Through an investigative hands-on activity with real-life materials, the students will 
actively demonstrate the process of digging in rocks for fossils.
4.) While working in collaborative groups to create an informational presentation, the 
  students will role-play the job of a paleontologist by describing the process and 
  tools necessary for digging up rocks and fossils.


This activity demonstrates the care which scientists have to use while extracting fossils in order to protect them from breakage. Many students have the concept of fossils as heavy dinosaur bones which do not need careful treatment. In reality, most fossils are delicate. Scientists often use tiny picks and small, soft brushes to expose the fossil and preserve it.


1 sack of chocolate chip cookies (hard or soft depending on the students' ages and skill level)
1 box round toothpicks
paper plates - one for each student
paper towels



Students will work in pairs or groups to create an informational presentation about paleontologists. The following four areas will be included in the presentation:

1.) What paleontologists do...

2.) Tools paleontologists use...

3.) Where paleontologists may dig...

4.) Things paleontologists may find...

The teacher can comment on these four criteria in a rubric or checklist created for their unique grouping or pairing in their particular classroom.


Make a class graph of the number of "fossils" in each "rock" sample. Does this cookie manufacturer claim to have a certain number of chocolate chips in each cookie? Discuss truthfulness in advertising. Write to the cookie manufacturer about your results. Suggest ways in which the manufacturer can improve the cookies.


Paleontologist, sediment, excavation

Last updated: February 16, 2017