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Creative
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Footprint Fossils

Make a present-day fossil—an imprint of your child’s hand or foot—as a keepsake.

Highlights 4Cs

Curious, Creative, Caring, and Confident™
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Curious
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Creative
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Caring
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Confident
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Buried animals or plants become fossils when sand or mud turns to rock over time. Use this present-day fossil—an imprint of your child’s hand or foot—to kick off a conversation about things that left an impression on this earth long ago. Study rocks to find preserved remains embedded in stone. Visit a museum to see fossils up close. Or hunt for “fossils” of your own family’s history in your attic, basement, or garage—not rocks, per se, but items that meant a lot to someone in the past. Uncle Dan’s trumpet? Grandma’s baby picture? A dusty bird under a glass cloche? Fossils, one and all!
Footprint Fossils
What You’ll Need
  • Rolling pin
  • Air-dry clay
  • Waxed paper
  • Bowl
  • Shells
  • Large craft gems
  • Permanent marker
What to Do

1. Use the rolling pin to flatten the clay on waxed paper.

2. To make a circle shape, place a bowl upside down on the clay, push the bowl into the clay, and twist slightly. Remove extra clay from around the edges of the bowl, then remove the bowl.

3. Briefly press your child’s hand or foot into the middle of the clay circle to make a “fossil.” Decorate the rest of the clay with shells and gems.

4. Let the footprint fossil dry in a sunny window for 24 hours.

5. Help your child write his name and the date on the back of the fossil with a permanent marker.

Extend the Fun

For younger kids: In 1947, several thousand small dinosaur skeletons were found tangled together on Ghost Ranch in New Mexico. You can visit them today, or check them out online. This summer, consider burying your footprint fossil and digging it up next year—an abbreviated version of an archaeological dig.

For older kids: Stream or rent the Nature documentary Raising the Dinosaur Giant, and see what recently discovered South American dinosaur fossils might have looked like in real life. (3-D scans and Consumer Generated Imagery (provide the magic.) Talk about what it takes to be a fossil hunter (a paleontologist)—someone who studies early forms of life, chiefly by studying fossils.

Craft by Hannah Bersee; text by Mary Sears

Which of the following subjects do you most want your child to master?

Parents Talk Back
Which of the following subjects do you most want your child to master?
Math
41% (26 votes)
Science
22% (14 votes)
Technology
3% (2 votes)
Literature
8% (5 votes)
History
6% (4 votes)
Music and the arts
13% (8 votes)
A foreign language
8% (5 votes)
Total votes: 64