Fossil Finds


Did you ever find a footprint in mud and wonder what animal made it? If left untouched for thousands of years, it would turn into a fossil! Create your own fossil replicas.


1. Think about something that lived long ago, such as dinosaurs. How do we learn about their appearance? When scientists study fossils, they can estimate the size of animals by the sizes of their footprints and skeletons. Fossils are a tangible link to the past, and new information is being discovered each day.

2. Making replicas of fossils with Crayola® Air-Dry Clay is easy. You can create fine details because of the smooth finish of the clay. What kinds of fossil imprints can you make with found objects such as plant leaves, sea shells, or even the foot of a toy dinosaur?

3. On a clean, dry surface flatten a handful of the clay. Make the edges uneven and jagged, like a rock. Cracks in the edges make it look authentic. Press objects into your rock and carefully remove them, so that you leave fossil prints. Air-dry your fossil for at least 48 hours.

4. Spread newspaper on your art table. Place a few drops of brown or black Crayola Tempera Paint on the surface of your fossil. With a paper towel or sponge, rub the paint over the surface. Rub off any excess so that the paint sticks only in the indentations for a rock-like finish. Add another earthy color and repeat the process.

5. What interests you about being a paleontologist? They are the scientists who study dinosaur bones.

Safety Guidelines

Adult supervision is required for any arts & crafts project. Observe children closely and intervene as necessary to prevent potential safety problems and ensure appropriate use of arts and crafts materials. Some craft items, particularly beads and buttons, are potential choking hazards for young children. Avoid use of such small parts with children younger than 3 years. Craft items such as scissors, push pins and chenille sticks may have sharp points or edges. Avoid use of materials with sharp points by children younger than 4 years. Read all manufacturers' safety warnings before using arts and craft supplies.

Crayola Modeling Materials including Crayola Model Magic®, and Model Magic Fusion™, Crayola Air-Dry Clay, and Crayola Dough—

  • Keep away from open flames. Do not use to make candleholders, hot plates, trivets, or other similar objects that will be used or placed near fire and other heat sources.
  • Do not put in an oven, microwave, or kiln.
  • Do not make into vessels/containers that will hold unpackaged food.
  • The use of modeling material to make items that look like food is discouraged for children younger than age 5 to avoid their confusion with real food.
  • Unless sealed with a water-resistant glaze, do not make projects exposed to or immersed in water, such as boats or outdoor bird feeders. They would disintegrate when exposed to moisture.
  • Crayola Dough—contains gluten (wheat flour) as an ingredient.
  • Crayola Air-Dry Clay, Crayola Model Magic and Model Magic Fusion are gluten-free. However, they are produced on the same machinery as Crayola Dough which does contain gluten. Although the machines are cleaned prior to the start of each production run, there is a slight possibility that trace amounts of gluten from Crayola Dough may be present in the other modeling compound products. For information regarding specific ingredients or allergic concerns, please call our Consumer Affairs department at 1-800-272-9652 weekdays between 9 AM and 4 PM Eastern Standard Time.

Crayola Washable Paints—Not for use as body/face paint.


  • Chart the different types and sizes of dinosaurs. Learn their names and how to spell them.
  • Try making footprints of dogs or other cooperative pets. Air-Dry Clay can be made a little softer with just a few drops of water. It washes off easily, too. How do today’s animals compare with the size of dinosaurs?
  • Collect shell or plant fossils. Which kinds of fossils have been found in your area?
  • Assessment: Observe children’s problem-solving process as they select objects and make imprints. How well do they follow directions with the paint?

Related Lesson Plans

Lesson Plans

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crayola supplies
  • Paint
  • Air-Dry Clay
household supplies
  • recycled newspaper
  • paper towels
  • water
  • container(s) of water
  • found objects



  • Grades 1 to 3
  • Grades 4 to 6


  • Science
  • Visual Arts


  • Multiple Sessions


  • Students learn about different animals and plants that have been fossilized, and the time involved.

  • Students understand how scientific information is gathered and is always changing.

  • Students make replicas of fossils with found-object impressions and paint.


Research Canada Standards
Research UK Standards
Research U.S. Standards