Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Summer Camp plans for the field trip to Calvert Cliffs State Park:


Calvert Cliffs State Park
Activity Guide

Theme: Fossils

Wednesday – introduce topic

Use the book On My Beach There Are Many Pebbles by Leo Lionni to introduce the question “What do you see when you walk on the beach?” This book specifically talks about all the different kinds of rocks you can find. Ask the children if they know where rocks come from or how they are made. Read The Pebble in My Pocket: A History of Our Earth by Meredith Hooper. Read the entire text for an older group, for a younger group simply share the pictures and summarize what is going on – you need to have read the book in advance!

Follow the story with "The Crayon Rock Cycle” activity. Tell the children that they are going to practice how rocks are made using crayons as their pretend rocks. They will each get a sample of the different types of crayon “rocks” to take home.

Thursday – explore topic

Begin by reading either The Fossil Girl: Mary Anning's Dinosaur Discovery by Catherine Brighton OR Stone Girl Bone Girl: The Story of Mary Anning by Laurence Anholt. These tell the story of a young girl who discovers a fossil in the cliffs above her home. It turns out to be the first full skeleton of an ichthyosaur! She goes on to become a noted scientist. Tell the children that tomorrow on their field trip they will be fossil hunters (although it is against the park rules for students to actually climb on the cliffs – they MUST stay on the beach). Explain to the children that fossils are actually special kinds of rocks; they are parts of plants or animals which have slowly changed to rock over time. (The organic matter is slowly replaced by minerals which stay in the shape of the original material.) Invite students to share what kinds of fossils they are familiar with (most will probably say dinosaur bones).

Give students a chance to get up and move around by listening to the “Fossils” (#12) piece of music from the Saint-Saëns: Carnival of the Animals recording (this should be track 21). Composer Camille Saint-Saëns wrote this piece of music intending it to sound like the rattling of skeletons. Do you agree that it does? How does this piece of music make you want to move? Let students move around like the fossils. (If you end up with extra time to fill in this session, you can return to this recording and play different selections, asking students to guess what animals are being represented.)

Ask students whether only hard things can become fossilized. The answer is no – even animal poop can become a fossil if the minerals replace it quickly enough! There is a piece of fossilized crocodile poop (called a coprolite) at the Calvert Marine Museum.

Other signs of animals can also fossilize – most notably, footprints – and that is what our activity will focus on today. Students will make plaster castings of “animal footprints” (in actuality their own handprints or footprints or finger marks or whatever kind of marking they want to make in the soft mud or wet sand provided).

Allow students to look through Fossil (DK Eyewitness Books)
by Paul Taylor as a resource for more information about fossils. Keep the book on hand for the field trip.

Friday – make field trip journals

While waiting for the field trip, have children decorate black construction paper with white chalk drawings of bones or other fossils. Have each child write his/her name on the back of the artwork. Fold and hole punch 8 ½ x 11 white paper, punch artwork to match (to be journal cover). Tie ribbons through holes. Have each child write the name of the field trip destination, the date, and his/her age on Page 1 of the journal. Have each child write a prediction of what he/she expects to see and do on the field trip on Page 2. Take the journals and a pencil for each child so that he/she can take notes on the field trip.

Materials List

Old wax crayons in assorted colors
Source of very hot water
Container to hold hot water
Aluminum foil
Scraping tools (cheese grater, popsicle sticks, plastic knives, etc.)
Aluminum pie plates
Mud or wet sand
Plaster of Paris
Paper cups
Popsicle sticks
Paper clips
Cardboard (cut into strips)
Marker (to identify each child’s fossil)
Black construction paper
White chalk
3 hole punch
8 ½ x 11 inch white paper
Ribbon in various colors

1 comment:

Renee said...

I had someone comment to me that she's going to have her children use wire mesh to make sieves to help in their fossil collecting. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fossil_collecting

I thought this was a great idea!