We had a guest speaker in class today who filled my kitchen with his fossil collection and gave a talk about all his wonderful treasures – most of which he or his family found! My older son and I are members of a local rock club and I knew Bill had a fossil collection and frequently talks at schools so it was easy enough to get him to come share his collection and knowledge with our class. He really blew us away with the quantity and quality of his fossils, including some absolutely beautiful ferns and trilobites.
After Bill’s show and tell the kids broke into groups and got to dig through a bowl of rocks and find their own fossils, which they got to keep. Some of the fossils were left over from a fossil hunt kit that I had bought a few years ago but the local rock club frequently does this kind of activity for classes and at their rock and gem show so they donated some to replenish our ‘dig’. The kids found brachiopods, crinoids (sometimes called sea lilies, because they resemble flowers but they are actually animals), ammonites and shark teeth.
Once everyone had exhausted their rock pile they each got a piece of raw amber to polish and a couple of the kids got lucky and found insects or leaf parts in their amber. I bought the raw amber kit from nature-watch.com. I was going to just buy the raw amber and not the kit, but I wanted the bigger pieces. Polishing amber is pretty simple, all you need is some sand paper of different grit – rough to fine and a bit of work. For the fine sand paper you get a much nicer polish if you wet the amber a bit first. Here are some photos through our microscope of one of the bugs we found.