Fossils. Resin. Prehistoric animals. Dinosaurs. History. Geography. Geology. Most of these things fascinate a vast majority of adults. As Little Feet get older they will begin to understand the sheer awesomeness of these objects and the incredibility that they still exist in our time. Even without that full understanding Little Feet still think they are pretty cool. Let’s be honest, their age blows away most of us Big Feet too. What we can agree on is that fossils, pieces of objects frozen in time, Jurassic Park… all of them set our tongues wagging and our minds off adventuring. The world unknown before us, or rather behind us. So join us in this Fossils for kids activity as we explore what Fossil Resin is and how we can add a creative, physical learning that they’ll never forget.
What is a fossil?
Most animals that die rot away to dust. Sometimes though, when an animal dies and is buried soon after death instead of decaying, their bones become replaced by minerals. These minerals over time will harden and the area around the bones/minerals will slowly turn to stone encasing the remains. The phrase ‘over time’ is used loosely here as the makings of a fossil can take millions of years!
To see a really useful image illustrating this for your Little Feet follow the link through - here.
Fact: Some of the oldest fossils are up to 3 billion years old.
What is Fossil Resin?
There are 5 types of fossils, we will only cover one here - Fossil Resin. These types of fossils are made from natural resin that came out of ancient trees. Insects or small animals will have become trapped inside this resin and over millions of years transformed into amber. Sealing them for eternity.
Basic learning complete. Now comes the creative part…
Making your own Fossil Resin Insects
This little activity is GREAT for hot weather and is a really fun way of illustrating and cementing facts about fossil resin. We will be using orange food colouring in water to give the appearance of amber and use plastic insects for the fossilised insects.
Originally when I set this activity up, I had envisioned both girls melting the ice with pipettes and whilst the sun did most of the melting, their attention was very much taken by the hammer I had left on the tuff tray… And I am so glad I did put out a hammer because it turned out to be WAY more fun. Kids right? They have so much pent up energy every day. If they aren’t given the opportunity to work it off they can become like caged animals. Enter opportunity for safe extrusion of energy and we have delightful children afterwards. Energy spent tick.
Kids have BIG emotions on the best of days and the longer I am a Mummy the more I begin to see that giving my Little Feet the opportunity to be creative but also active makes them thrive both physically but also mentally. The combination of these two forces encourages a healthy wellbeing in both of them.
Think back to a time you may have had a lot of pent up anger or frustration. Wouldn’t you have loved (or maybe had) the opportunity to have 5 minutes pummelling a boxing bag, or going for a run. All that constrained energy and emotion is released and absorbed into your body movement and what it is replaced with is adrenaline and endorphins. Where am I going with this? Well, Little Feet A LOVED this activity. I mean she smashed those ‘Fossil Resin Insects’ to smithereens. And let me tell you, she was a DELIGHT for the rest of the afternoon.
This particular activity we did after school. On the occasion I get an activity out after school she is normally tired, grouchy and disinterested but this focus of physical energy seemed to give her a new lease of life! We had been talking about fossils for a couple of days previous to this so when she found out what we were going to do she couldn’t wait to get her hands on those insects. Especially as they were new and they hadn’t seen them before!
What you will need:
Orange food colouring (we use Wilton’s Gel food colouring)
Containers- ice trays/ lolly pop trays/balloons
Pipettes/ hammer or both!
The day before you want to do this activity, mix some warm water with orange food colouring. Place your insects in whichever container/s you have decided on and fill them up with food colouring.
Carefully place in your freezer and leave for 24 hours.
During this time, take a moment to talk to your Little Feet about fossils and insects stuck in resin. Show them some pictures and have a little discussion while exploring the topic.
On the day of play, take all the frozen ice cubes out and place on a tray. If you have done them in balloons, simply cut the ballon away from the ice and discard.
We did all of ours outside so we put them on a tuff tray. Next to all our insect resin I placed a wooden toy hammer, a bowl of warm water and some pipettes to melt the ice.
Explain the aim of play is to release the insects from being frozen in the icy resin!
As always we want to see your creations, so if you put them on social media make sure to tag us so we can share your makes!