Fossils: Doodling and Diggin’ the Earth

Time Required: Two 45-60 minute sessions
Skill Level: Advanced
Recommended Grades: 3rd to 5th

Students will work in small groups to design and 3Doodle a cast and mold for a set of trace fossils of a dinosaur's bones. Students will research and record facts about their selected dinosaur on the back of each fossil. After swapping fossil sets with another group, each group will carefully dig out a hidden set of fossils from a sandbox and reassemble this dinosaur's skeleton and recorded information.

Note: Any links outside of are optional resources. We can’t ensure their upkeep or accuracy.

Lesson Plan


Step 1

Students will review the listed sites and video to learn more about dinosaur fossils and discoveries.

Step 2

Share the goals. Each small group of 3-4 students will select a dinosaur discovery, design a set of stencils for this dinosaur's bones, 3Doodle over the set of stencils, use the doodled bones as stamps to create an imprint of bones in clay and research and record information about their dinosaur.

Step 3

Model how to create stencils and imprints.

Step 4

Note requirements for research: Write a paragraph about the selected dinosaur; where it was discovered; how its fossils were formed; and any information that scientists were able to infer from examining its fossils, e.g., size, height, eating habits, prey, etc.

Step 5

Flip over fossil pieces and reassemble face side down. Glue one piece of paper on the back of each fossil. Use all pieces to write a paragraph.

Step 6

Arrange fossil pieces like a puzzle, so that information about the dinosaur can be read when the pieces are turned over and reassembled.

Step 7

Place one set of fossils into a sandbox. Have another group dig up the fossils and reassemble them as a dinosaur skeleton. Flip them over to reassemble as information about the dinosaur.

Wrap Up

Students will share their set of trace fossils with another group, who will need to unearth the complete set, reassemble them as a set of trace fossils and then flip them over to reassemble as a related information about dinosaurs. Share on Twitter #3DoodlerEDU


Review student’s stencils, casts, molds and writing to determine their level of understanding. Review Questions: How did we use the 3Doodler to simulate the process of creating a trace fossil? What types of materials, plants or animals may be creating trace fossils today? How do you think scientists can use fossils to create a model of a dinosaur? What inferences were scientists able to make about your dinosaur based on it fossils? How can scientists use fossils to determine how animals have changed over time?

Possible Extensions

Students will deliberately leave out one or two trace fossils from their set. Can the other group determine the type of dinosaur it came from with a limited set? Can they reassemble the researched information and figure out which parts are missing? How is this similar to the task of a paleontologist?


    Educational Standards

    Common Core

    Conduct short research projects that build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic.

    In This Lesson

    Students will research information about dinosaur fossil discoveries.

    Common Core

    Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

    In This Lesson

    Students will base models of trace fossils and dinosaurs on information from text to support their thinking.

    Common Core

    Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

    In This Lesson

    Students will answer questions about their experience based on research and their experience creating trace fossils.

    CS Teachers

    Plan and create a design document to illustrate thoughts, ideas, and stories in a sequential (step-by-step) manner (e.g., story map, storyboard, sequential graphic organizer).

    In This Lesson

    Students will create tracings and stencils while planning the 3Doodler design of their dinosaur's trace fossils.

    CS Teachers

    Decompose (break down) a larger problem into smaller sub-problems with teacher guidance or independently.

    In This Lesson

    Students will break down the process of understanding how trace fossils are formed, and the information we can learn by examining them.


    Use technology to seek feedback that informs and improves their practice and to demonstrate their learning in a variety of ways.

    In This Lesson

    Students will use the 3Doodler to visually demonstrate how trace fossils are formed.


    Exhibit a tolerance for ambiguity, perseverance and the capacity to work with open-ended problems.

    In This Lesson

    Students will demonstrate willingness and competency within an open-ended task with more than one possible outcome.


    Create original works or responsibly repurpose or remix digital resources into new creations.

    In This Lesson

    Students will create a set of trace fossils for a dinosaur with a 3Doodler.


    Use collaborative technologies to work with others, including peers, experts or community members, to examine issues and problems from multiple viewpoint

    In This Lesson

    Students will seek feedback from peers throughout the design, creation and writing process.

    Next Gen Science

    Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity Analyze and interpret data from fossils to provide evidence of the organisms and the environments in which they lived long ago.

    In This Lesson

    Students will make inferences about dinosaurs based on fossils.

    Next Gen Science

    Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity Make a claim about the merit of a solution to a problem caused when the environment changes and the types of plants and animals that live there may change.*

    In This Lesson

    Students will discuss how scientists use fossils to make inferences about how animals change over time.

    Back to Lessons