Search form

Lesson Plan : Fossils and Rock Formations

Subject:  Science

Grade: 4

Lesson Objective: To understand that patterns in rock formations and fossils in rock layers demonstrate how changes have occurred over time

Next Gen Science Standard:  4-ESS1-1. Identify evidence from patterns in rock formations and fossils in rock layers to support an explanation for changes in a landscape over time.

Materials Needed:



  • How do you think scientists can tell what the land was like a long time ago?  (Allow the students to answer.)



  • There are several ways that scientists can figure out what land was like a long time ago.  Two of those ways are using rock formations and using fossils.
  • Remember, 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. 
  • Scientists can look at fossils in a certain area and see what it was like a long time ago.  If there are fossils that show shells and other marine creatures, that means that land was once under water.
  • If there are fossils that show only leaves and rock layers, then scientists know that there was no water there.  Those types of fossils can also be layered on top of each other.  This would tell scientists that there was once water, but then the water went away and it was just land.
  • The other way that scientists can tell what land was like a long time ago is using rock formations.
  • By looking at the rock formations, scientists can see different layers of rock.  Over time, dirt and sand that is on top of the earth gets pressed down and it turns into rock.  Every layer that is formed can be examined by scientists.  The scientists then learn about the land from those rock layers.
  • You are now going to be given a picture.  You are going to look at the picture and see what you can figure out about what the land was like based on what you see.
  • Please write down what you notice and what you think scientists can learn from what you see.
  • Does anyone have any questions?



  • Who would like to share what you think the land is like and why?  (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.

Copyright© 2018 Education World