How to craft fantastic fossils!

Hello, Esme and Tim here!

Over half term, we created and led a free children’s craft activity for ‘Go Live! Fantastic Fossils’ at the Natural History Museum. We were joined by experts from Geo Suffolk, who were identifying fossils, answering questions from budding geologists and showcasing interesting finds from the local area.


To create our activity, we started by looking at the craft resources available at the museum and then spent a bit of time swotting up on Pinterest. After getting excited about salt dough fossils (messy), fossils shapes in ice (messy) and giant, archaeological sandbox digs (also messy), we reigned in our imaginations and produced something simple enough for children to make, but with enough stages that they could feel like they had achieved something.

If you missed our fantastic fossils event, or just want something fun and crafty to do, then here is our guide to making your very own ammonite or fish fossil!

To make an Ammonite you will need:

  • 1 sheet of paper
  • 2 pipe cleaners (any colour)
  • 4 cotton buds (cut in half)
  • Sticky tape
  • Scissors
  • Tissue paper (brown is best but any colour will do)
  • Lots of glue! (a glue stick works well)


Step 1: Make your paper really, really gluey. The more the better!

Step 2: Stick one end of the pipe cleaner to the middle of the paper using sticky tape.


Step 3: Curl this in a loose spiral shape and use sticky tape to fix it to the paper like below.


Step 4: Take the second pipe cleaner and line it up with the end of the first. Fix it to the paper with sticky tape and continue to curl it around. Your spiral shape should now be looking something like this:


Step 5: Take the cotton bud halves and place them inside the spiral with equal spaces between each one.

Step 6: Do you need any more glue? Check that the glue is still sticky and hasn’t dried… if it has add more around the inside and outside of the spiral, and cover bits of the sticky tape too.


Step 7: Place the tissue paper over the top of the ammonite shape (make sure that it is fully covered) and press down… use your finger to press in the gaps between the cotton buds.


Step 8: Draw a line around the shape leaving a gap.

Step 9: Cut along the line using scissors. Ask an adult if you need help.


Step 10: Ta-da! Hold it up to the window to see the details of the fossilised creature. You are now the owner of an ancient Ammonite!

…To make a fish you will need:

  • 1 sheet of paper
  • 1 pipe cleaner (any colour)
  • 4 cotton buds (cut 3 in half)
  • Sticky tape
  • Scissors
  • Tissue paper (brown is best, but any colour will work)
  • Lots of glue!

Step 1: The messy bit again! Put lots and lots of glue onto the paper.


Step 2: Cut the pipe cleaner in half and make two triangle shapes like above. These are for the head and tail. Add sticky tape if they won’t stick to the paper.


Step 3: Use one cotton bud for the backbone and cut three cotton buds in half to make the ribs. Don’t worry if these don’t stick down very well, as the tissue paper will hold them in place.


Step 4: Put tissue paper over the fish bones and press down. Use your fingers to get in between the gaps.


Step 5: Draw a line around the outside, leaving a bit of a gap.

Step 6: Cut along the line using scissors. Ask an adult if you need help.


Step 7: Voila! Hold it up to the light to reveal it’s details. You are now the owner of a fossilised fish!

We hope you enjoy making these. Maybe you could invent a dinosaur fossil?!

Till next time,

Esme and Tim

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