Monday, June 4, 2012

Clay Leaf Imprints (a Fossils Lesson)

You can’t talk about dinosaurs, without talking about fossils. Those prehistoric beasts sure get a lot of attention in books and on TV. While fossils of plants aren’t quite as impressive, they are just as important, giving scientists clues about what life was like millions of years ago.

our clay leaf imprints

To help my son understand fossils, we hit the nature trail. He collected leaves that had dropped from the trees. He was amazed at how many different kinds there were!

When the rain clouds moved in, we headed home with our bag of leaves. I grabbed a big box of white Sculpey clay. We rolled it into eight balls a little smaller than golf balls.

Then he smashed and rolled it between two sheets of waxed paper.

Next, he peeled off the top layer of waxed paper, added a leaf atop the clay, and then using a rolling pin, pressed the leaf into the clay.

Lastly, he peeled off the leaf and poked a hole using a drinking straw.

Now the only thing left to do was bake the leaf impressions, per the Sculpey instructions.

While they were hardening in the oven, we read about how fossils are formed in a book by Megan Lappi.

It’s true, we didn’t really make fossils; afterall, this activity took about an hour, not thousands of years it takes for fossils to form. But it sure was fun to preserve our leaves for future enjoyment!

Credit: These clay leaf imprints weren't my idea and despite combing my Pinterest boards, I can't find the original source to credit. If you've seen these online elsewhere, let me know so I can give proper credit.


  1. Very nice... we did this with "playdough" and tried to bake it.. turned out OK.. not awesome like yours. My Learning Laboratory post is here:

  2. It might be from


      (forgot to add the link)

  3. Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting your amazing lessons. I did the Noun Clown lesson with my son this morning, and he loved it. I'm planning to use lots of your other lessons with him.

    Lisa Jackson

  4. What a fun idea! My son Nicholas loves fossils and bones. He brought home a skull of a deer once (blech). This looks much more fun and "my" idea of fossils lol...Thanks for sharing on Hey Mom, Look What I Did at Adventures In Mommy Land!!

  5. Such a wonderful activity for kids. I love it. They look so pretty too.

    Thank you for sharing on Kids Get Crafty!


  6. I love this idea, and yours look beautiful!

    Thank you for sharing with Learning Laboratory at Mama Smiles =)

  7. That's been on my list of thigns to do. I hadn't thought of using Sculpey though, I was thinking Plaster of Paris, but this would probably work better.

    They turned out so pretty. Thanks for linking to Science Sunday!

  8. I'm one of the co-hosts of the Summer Fun party you linked up to this summer and wanted to say thanks for linking up there! I also wanted to let you know I've featured this project on my blog this evening, you can go check it out if you'd like and grab a "Featured" button :)

  9. I have 16 students and we would like to do these for our fossil unit. How much Sculpey clay will I need???

    1. I would buy two packages just to be safe.

    2. I'd get two 1-pound boxes of sculpey, or more just to be safe.