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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Ice Fossils in Your Own Backyard

It's winter in the Midwest, which basically means one day it will be below freezing temperatures outside, and the next day will be in the 70's.  We've learned to take this roller-coaster ride and live with it.  Some days we even turn the cold blustery days into a winter nature study.

During science yesterday, my fifth grader learned about fossils.  It reminded me of when we found a "fossil" of our own.  OK, it wasn't a true fossil.  It was, however pretty cool.

It was a year we actually got some decent snowfall, I think this takes us back to at least two years now and counting.  My children went out to play in the snow, and I prepared to join them when I heard a tap on the door.

It was my son holding a large chunk of ice and smiling ear-to-ear.  Inside the ice was a leaf that was perfectly preserved and trapped.  It got me thinking how this would make for a really interesting winter nature study.

Even if you are not lucky enough to discover your own ice fossil, there is plenty of fun to be had, and you don't even have to go outside to do it.


  1. Start with an ice cube tray
  2. Place inside each section a small object, preferably an object found in your own backyard like an acorn (but, don't fight a squirrel over it) or a small pebble but small plastic toys could work too.
  3. Fill the ice cube tray with water
  4. Freeze for a few hours or until the water is solid
  5. Observe your ice fossils

Or - Place a small object, like a plastic dinosaur toy, inside a balloon and fill the balloon with water.  Then freeze.  Once frozen, remove the balloon to reveal a frozen ice ball with your "ice fossil" inside.

For more fun, add food coloring to the water or become true explorers by chiseling and/or carefully breaking your fossils open after they have frozen.  For a safe way to open up your ice fossils, use warm water inside a squirt bottle (not too hot) and have the child slowly squirt the warm water onto the ice.  Of course, after the ice fossil is left our for awhile at room temperature, it will melt and reveal the inside object without any extra help.

Of course, I also looked to the Web for more answers in kid-friendly learning fun.  There are some intense images of actual ice fossils that have been discovered, so be sure you view any online images before sharing them with small children.

Here is the kid-friendly sites I found:

Ice Fossils on Pinterest

A study of fossils from Kinderscience

There is even a cool field trip to join in May, if you live near this place:  Ice Age-Fossil Adventure from Creation Studies.

Read other School House Review Crew winter nature studies here:
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2 comments:

  1. This post reminds me of an older post of mine. We live in the Midwest too!

    http://chickensbunniesandhomeschool.blogspot.com/2011/11/boo-loves-nature.html

    ReplyDelete
  2. What a great idea! We live in the midwest too! Today is supposed to be 60 and it snowed 3 days ago. I'm following you now from the crew.

    ReplyDelete

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