Starting a Fossil Collection
A couple of weeks ago we visited California Caverns and learned a lot about limestone caves and their formation. Of course, Smarty wanted to explore a gift shop of this state park and was excited to see that they offer “panning kits” and have a set up outside to immediately retrieve hidden items from sand simulating real panning for gold experience of old times. The cost was reasonable ($8 per kit), and the store had a choice of precious/semi-precious stones, arrowheads, and fossils. Smarty immediately chose fossils and even parted with her own saved money to pay for this experience. The bags were well stocked – she ended up with a reasonable number of various fossils that we packed into a plastic bag and took home with us. We also took a photo of the table in the store explaining which fossils might be found in this kit, so we could identify them later:
Sorting and Learning About Fossils
At home, Smarty washed her fossils again and sorted them into groups. Then we brought over a laptop and started looking up different fossils and discover how they form. Unfortunately, we didn’t find any particularly good fossil site for kids. Instead, we identified our fossils looking at the picture from the store, and then read up in Wikipedia about those particular fossil types. Smarty was particularly interested in crinoids, because they look so much like beheaded screws, and in amber, because of its transparency and light weight. Eventually we stumbled upon Fantastic Fossils from London museum of natural history, which gave an overview of several fossils and also encouraged kids to go fossil hunting. Needless to say, Smarty is now all set to go and search for her own fossils to add to her new collection:
Make Your Own FossilWhen Smarty was in the second grade, they had a unit about dinosaurs in school and had a field trip to Youth Science Institute. They made their own “fossil imprints” there with a method very similar to these DIY Dinosaur Fossils from Lessons Learnt Journal. We might try them again soon if Smarty’s interest in fossils continues.
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