Activity 1: Do at School!

Make a Fossil Sandwich

Make a fossil!

Teacher Preparation:

  1. Bones and shells must be buried by sand or mud to become fossils. So, making a fossil is a bit like making a sandwich.
  2. The bread is soft mud at the bottom of a pond, and the sandwich filling is made of different creatures.


  • Soft white bread
  • Paper clips
  • Leaves
  • Twigs
  • Shells
  • Other objects

Teacher Instructions:

  1. Place a piece of bread on a table - this is the mud at the bottom of the pond.
  2. Place some of your creatures (paper clips, leaves, etc.) on the bottom of the pond (the bread).
  3. More mud is swept into the pond and settles over the objects (add another slice of bread)
  4. Repeat steps 1-3 a couple more times.
  5. SQUISH the sandwich with your hand. This is similar to sediment getting squished by heavy sediment above it.
  6. Now pull apart the layers and look at how things are preserved.

Were some things fossilized in greater detail than others? Why?

Discuss: In what ways is this fossil sandwich not realistic?

Main Message: This exercise shows how fossil organisms and their impressions are formed within layers of sediment. It also shows that some objects are better preserved than others.

Connections: Activity 2 (about settling sediment), and activity 5 (about finding fossils) will help reveal what really happens.


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Ithaca, NY 14850 phone: 607-273-6623 fax: 607-273-6620
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