Educational Activities

people looking for fossils
A paleontology team on a field excursion in Denali National Park & Preserve, Alaska.
Learn about our nation's fossils at home or in the classroom with these paleontology themed activities. They were developed by education specialists in the National Park Service, fossil sites, or museums across the country.

Some of the activities have a site-specific element that can be adapted for use at home or in the classroom. In some cases, a virtual site visit may be possible using online resources. Always check with a local park, fossil site, or museum to see what opportunities might be available in your neighborhood. If you find one you like, you can share it with us here at the Geologic Resources Division.
 
images of trace fossils
Views Module Worksheets
Views of the National Parks multimedia modules are part of the natural resources Science in Action series. The paleontology related modules below demonstrate the various fossil resources in the parks. Worksheets and activities are organized by grade which correspond to the modules for easy download. Go to the Views Module Worksheets.
 


 
diorama of prehistoric "big pig"
Teaching Paleontology
Teaching Paleontology in the National Parks and Monuments and Public Lands is a fossil education program designed by National Park Service staff for use in the classroom and in the Parks. Go to the Teaching Paleontology resources.
 


 
person examining rock structure
Science Inquiry
To request a file for any of these activities, please contact us.
  • Fossils Print & Cast. Students make a mold of a "fossil print" and then create a cast from it. Grades 3-6. [20 KB PDF]
  • Cookie Excavation. Students perform a "fossil" dig for chocolate chips. Grades 3-6. [93 KB PDF]
  • Make Your Own Fossil. Big River Classroom activity where students create an imitation fossil that employs at least two elements of the definitition of what a fossil is. Grades 4-6. [63 KB PDF]
  • Kitchen Geology. Students create an edible dish that will demonstrate the layering of rock strata and the ways rock movement can expose fossils. Grades 4-6. [177 KB PDF]
 


 
color illustration of fossil
USGS Paper Models
These Open-file Reports were created by the USGS and demonstrate key paleontological concepts through the use of student created paper models. To request a file for any of these activities, please contact us.
  • Chicxulub Impact Event. Open-file Report 97-442-A. Students learn about the dinosaur extinction and build paper models of a pterosaur and Triceratops. [500 KB PDF]
  • Crinoids. Open-file Report 97-91A. Students will better understand the flower-like animal, crinoid, its environment, and how they become fossilized. [639 KB PDF]
  • Make Your Own Paper Fossils. Open-file Report 94-667. Students learn about the environment, size and shape, and fossilization process of a nautiloid and trilobite. Full Report [846 KB PDF] | Color Nautiloid [430 KB PDF] | Color trilobite [521 KB PDF]
 


 
Ranger talking to group
Additional Materials
To request a file for any of these activities, please contact us.
  • Paleontology Crossword Puzzle. Students can complete a crossword puzzle of paleontology vocabulary. Grades 3-6. [29 KB PDF]
  • Be a Paleontologist .Students are a paleontologist for a day and plan an expedition to uncover new evidence on the dinosaur extinction. Grades 4-8. [15 KB PDF]
  • Fossil Fun Crossword. Students can complete a crossword puzzle of paleontology vocabulary. Grades 4-6. [484 KB PDF]
  • Fossil Find Students can complete a crossword puzzle of paleontology vocabulary. Grades 4-6. [207 KB PDF]
  • Fossil Futures Students learn about new discoveries in paleontology. Grades 4-8. [78 KB PDF]
  • Follow a Fossil Students learn about the entire process of fossil preservation from field work to the museum display. Grades 6-8. [17 KB PDF]