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Lesson Plan: Fantastic Fossils

Subject:  Science

Grade: 3

Lesson Objective: To analyze and interpret fossils

Next Gen Science Standard:  3-LS4-1. Analyze and interpret data from fossils to provide evidence of the organisms and the environments in which they lived long ago.

Materials Needed:

  • Real fossils or pictures of fossils (attached)



  • Have you ever seen a fossil?  Where did you see it and what did it look like?  (Allow the students to answer.)



  • A fossil is the remains or an impression of an organism that has been preserved in rock.  When an animal or organism from long ago died, what was left of their exoskeleton or skeleton was left in sand or dirt.  Over time, the sand or dirt hardened and turned into rock.
  • Bones, shells, feathers and leaves can all become fossils.  Some fossils show all of an organism, leaf or shell and some only show part of one.
  • Fossils are only called fossils once they are 10,000 years old. 
  • Some of the oldest fossils that have been found are more than 3 billion years old.  The fossils were of ancient algae that lived in the oceans.
  • Fossils can tell us many different things about an organism.  Fossils can tell us where an organism lived, such as on land or in the ocean.
  • Fossils can tell us what an organism looked like, especially if the fossil is found whole.
  • Fossils can also tell us what the environment was like.  Plant fossils can help scientists figure out if it was hot, cold, wet or dry.  Different plants like different conditions to grow.
  • I am going to show you a fossil.  (Hold up the picture of the fossil).  This is a fossil of a coelacanth.  Coelacanths were ancient fish.
  • This fossil tell us what the fish looked like, including all of its different parts.  It also tells us that the area where it was found was once covered with water because we know that fish live in water.
  • You are now going to get a chance to look at a few fossils.  (Give each student, or pair of students, two fossils or pictures of fossils to examine)
  • You are going to look at the fossil, figure out what you can learn about what the organism looked like and what you can figure out about what the environment was like.  Then, you will write down what you learn from each fossil.
  • Does anyone have any questions?



  • Who would like to share what you learned by looking at your fossils?  (Allow the students to share.)

Written by Kimberly Greacen, Education World® Contributing Writer

Kimberly is an educator with extensive experience in curriculum writing and developing instructional materials to align with Common Core State Standards and Bloom's Taxonomy.

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