Sunday, July 17, 2011


Part of our science curriculum focuses on how scienctists date fossils.  We learn that the deeper down the fossil is, the older it is. 

To drive this point home, we do a little digging of our own.  The students bring in three small objects from home (a penny, a dime, a button, a bean, etc).  It has to be small and all three objects different.  I tell them that these are going to be put in sand and glue, so they know not to bring something that is special to them.

On the first day I give each student three cups (use small cups-like the Dixie bathroom kind); one empty, one filled with sand, and another with two or three tablespoons of water.  They should have a piece of paper numbered 1-3.  They need glue (the bottle kind) and a spoon.  I have them squeeze about a teaspoon of glue into their water and mix it well.

Then I have them fill the empty cup with a fourth of sand.  Then put an object in.

Stop there and write the object down next to the number one.

Then another fourth sand and an object.  Stop to write that object down next to the number two...  And so on until all objects are buried.  Lastly, dump the glue water into the cup.

After they are done they should let their cups sit to dry (put their paper under their cup).  During your next science lesson, bring the cups out again and have them switch with a partner. The children are going to use plastic knives or butter knives to dig.  As they find each object, they should write it down on their partners paper, next to their list.  If this is done correctly it should look like this:

1. dime               1.  button
2. penny             2.  penny
3. button            3.  dime

The children can see that the LAST object they found was really the FIRST object their partner buried. 

My first year doing this activity-learned from my mistakes

Some helpful tips:

The first year I did this I used too much water and too much glue.  The sand was rock hard and very hard to dig in.

The first year I did this our cups were too big.  The next year I used much smaller cups.

You might want to try this first so it works for the cups you are using.  You don't want it super easy to dig, but you don't want it impossible either.  It should be fun for the students, not frustrating.

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