A fossil is a window into the history of our world, providing clues about plants and animals that lived thousands or millions of years ago. Because fossils are fairly easy to find, many kids and grownups enjoy the sleuthing that amateur paleontology (the study of ancient life) offers.
Claudia and Doug (no last names given) are a couple of teachers sharing their "love of cool rocks" with kids, teachers and other fossil fanatics. In addition to articles about fossils (such as "What is a Fossil?" and "How Fossils Are Formed"), some of the more unusual features include Fossil Coloring Pages, printable Fossil Word Searches and Crossword Puzzles, and Extreme Fossil Facts ("Titanites are often two feet in diameter.") For printable booklets that elementary age students can illustrate themselves, look in the Montessori Materials section.
The 18-million-year-old Thomas Farm fossil preserve, owned by the University of Florida, has produced tens of thousands of bones of extinct vertebrates. This exhibit explores stratigraphy (the geology and history of the earth's layers) and the evolution of the modern horse. Best fossil clicks are the Gallery of Fossil Horses, Stratigraphy Layer by Layer and The Sedimental Journey. "Animal remains are most likely to be fossilized if their hard parts are covered by layers of sediments soon after death. Therefore, most fossils are found in sedimentary rock, like sandstone, shale, limestone and coal."
Reproduced from a free print publication of the U.S. Geological Survey, this online booklet is a marvelous introduction, in non-technical language, to how geologists study fossils to learn about the earth's history. "People who study Earth's history also use a type of calendar, called the geologic time scale. It looks very different from the familiar calendar. In some ways, it is more like a book, and the rocks are its pages. Some of the pages are torn or missing, and the pages are not numbered, but geology gives us the tools to help us read this book."
Produced by the University of California Museum of Paleontology, The Paleontology Portal has three exhibits exploring the history of life in North America: Time & Space, Fossil Gallery and Famous Flora & Fauna. In each exhibit hall, you begin by selecting a specific era and a specific locale. Other clicks of interest include a great set of teacher guides (look in K-12) and a look at careers and degrees in paleontology.
"One thing all fossils have in common, they are OLD, at least 10,000 years old. Where's the best place to find a fossil? In a museum!" This virtual fossil exhibit from the San Diego Museum of Natural History is written specifically for kids. Visit to learn what fossils are, and where (besides museums) you can find them. Some of the best clicks are those listed under "Also On This Site." Don't miss the Fossil Mysteries site, and its online activities.