I really wish I was one of those teachers that dreamed up the clever art ideas like this one: clay fossils. I find myself becoming more and more a borrower as the years roll on. No shame in that I suppose! The credit for this one goes to the fantastic Hope Knight at Mrs. Knight's Smartest Artists blog.
This is a great two-week art assignment. To get the kids motivated, I show a short video about fossils on BrainPop! and then to warm up we make a small shoe fossil charm. After the charms are made, I talk about the difference between clay and Play-doh. Now it's time to work on the big dinosaur fossil! Working on a mat, I show them how to press a medium size ball of clay into a slab using the palm of their hand. Then we pull out the fossil tool kits and press textures into the surface. The excitement really is contagious! When a few students start finishing up, I show a Where the Wild Things Are claymation film I found on YouTube. They love it!
During the second week, we practice being paleontologists and make our fossil textures pop by brushing thinned black tempera paint onto the surface of the clay. I take the fossils to the sink area as students finish. If time allows, I rinse most of the paint off at that moment. However, with some groups, I just couldn't but it still works if you wait until the end of the day to rinse them off. The paint just holds onto the clay a little more, but still looks cool as you can see from the photo below:
When the fossils are all finished up, I call students over two at a time and have them paint gold acrylic paint on top of the shoe charms. Lots of oooohhhhs and aaaahhhhs as the metallic paint goes on. We will string them and add beads after break!
Fossil tool kits:
shells, plastic dinosaurs, plastic bugs from the Dollar Store.
I will keep my eye out for plastic plants to add to the kits!
I plan on wrapping the dinosaur fossils in newspaper for them to go home.