What is National Fossil Day?

This year will be the 12th annual National Fossil Day, and it will be celebrated on October 13th. National Fossil Day was started to highlight the importance of the study of paleontology and the preservation of fossils for future generations to learn about and study. It is so important to teach kids about the past, and getting them interested when they are young is the best way.

What Do Students Learn by Exploring National Fossil Day?

Students can learn about many cool and exciting things on National Fossil Day. It is also a way for you to connect specifically with students who are interested in dinosaurs, reptiles, and the ocean. So many of us tend to only think about ancient digging sites depicted in old movies or a documentary. There is so much more for students to learn regarding fossils and by celebrating National Fossil Day. Students can explore National Parks, different types of rocks and how they are formed, oceans, caves, all about being a paleontologist, and much more. Be creative and have fun!

Fun Ways to Celebrate National Fossil Day in Your Class

  1. Take a virtual tour of some petrified trees. Students can then do research on what makes a petrified tree a fossil and write a newspaper article or create an infographic on their findings. There are many great online tools and apps that students can use to get creative in their publications.
  2. Create a scavenger hunt of the six weird fossils you can find in national parks. Students can use their iPad to take screenshots once they find them and create a Google Slideshow with their findings and a description of each. To add more fun to this, have students dress up as park rangers and create a video of being interviewed to discuss these.
  3. Grab some simple materials and let kids make a cast and mold fossils of their very own. There are other easy ways to let kids create their own fossil, even if you just want to use Play-Doh and glue.
  4. Check out a slideshow on the Smithsonian’s collection of Cambrian fossils. There are also other cool resources on this website including ancient sea life and fossils. Hook kids’ interest with titles such as: “If You Build An Ocean, Sea Monsters Will Come” or “What the Megalodon Left Behind.”
  5. Read all about caves and let kids build their own cave with some modeling clay. You can also grow some Speleothems or a crystal garden in your class for the younger students or let the older kids do it themselves! Have them write about the process or make a how-to video to recap the process and share their writing or videos with the class.
  6. Have students complete the Junior Explorer Geology and Fossils activity book on Google Books. To further this activity, have them create an activity book for younger students to do and share these with other teachers in your building. To make this a partner activity, buddy up with a class and pair up an older student with a younger student to work on them together.
  7. Give students a chance to explore what it takes to be a paleontologist, and let them create a file folder booklet with information and facts about what they learned. Students can also check out books from the library or use a kid-friendly search engine.
  8. Have students pick one of the topics that they were most interested in from learning about fossils and use facts they learned to create their own board game. Once they complete it, let them play it with other students.
  9. Have students work in a group to each choose a specific interest and work together to create a fossil museum. Then, let each group tour the other’s museums and take notes on what they learn.

I hope this has given you some new and fun ways to get kids excited about learning about the past: it may even spark some to choose a career in the field!