Home Contents About this website Links Help How to use this website

Mike Tuke’s

A = activity, D = demonstration, E = experiment, Pa = paper exercise,TE = thought experiment. Should be done as I = individual, P = pair, G = group. min = minutes. F = further information.
printable version of this page
General The following activities can be used in teaching most, but not all fossil groups Learning the parts 1  A I Provide students with a fossil or modern shell and a photocopy of a diagram without the names of parts on. 1 Use a diagram on the data projector to show students the parts of the fossil and explain their purpose. 2 Students should find those parts on the sample of the fossil (or modern shell) in front of them. 3 Students fill in the names of the parts on a photocopied diagram. This activity works best if the projected diagram, photocopy and sample are of different genera (it makes students think harder). Learning the purpose of the parts   A I Students have in front of them a fossil. They choose one part from a list of parts of that group and find it on the fossil. They then choose from another list a suitable purpose for that part. Learning the variations within a group A P F 20 min per tray Provide 8 or so trays each with several named fossils in boxes. Each tray shows the variations that occur in one aspect of the shape of that group.  For instance in bivalves one tray would have an equilateral bivalve and an inequilateral one; another tray would have a biconvex, a planoconvex and a concavo-convex bivalve. Students are given a sheet which lists the variations found on each tray but not the names of the fossils. Students take one tray at a time and match the names to the variation in shape. Click on F to see one example, the sheet for trilobites, Describing fossils 1 A I Students are given a number of samples from a fossil group. They must describe (and sketch) each by using the terms given on a sheet as a help. Describing fossils 2  A I 5 min per fossil Students a given a number of fossils which they must describe by filling in the spaces on a sheet provided.  Each space requires an answer to a specific question e.g. “ Is there a pedical opening?” Identifying fossils  A I 5 min per fossil Students are given a fossil and must use the British Fossils published by the British Natural History Museum or other guide to identify it. History of a group Pa I 10 min Students are given a chart showing how the number of families of a fossil group have varied during the Phanerozoic. They must describe the how the numbers have varied and comment on times of radiation, of extinction etc. and relate these to the times of mass extinctions.    Making casts of fossils   A P 15 min Lightly oiled plaster casts of fossils are pressed into soft clay which is then allowed to harden.   The moulds are oiled or sprayed with release agent and more soft clay pressed into them. Once dried they can be removed and students then have a clay fossil  which they can paint.  A kiln is not needed. Chocolate fossils Moulds are made of a variety of plaster casts of fossils.  This can be done by placing the fossils on a on a board with small holes drilled in it.  This is placed in a vacuum forming machine to make moulds of the fossils. Your Art department may have a vacuum forming machine.  The moulds are then lightly greased with oil and a small amount of melted cooking chocolate is poured into each to line them. Then crumbled biscuit is added to remaining melt and this is then poured in to fill up the moulds. Tribolites work best, ammonites and flattish echinoids and corals also work well.  Students can only eat those they correctly identify.  Good for field trip lunches or as treats.
further information
Earth Science Activities and Demonstrations