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Science Projects for Second Grade: Digging Bones

written by: Alicia • edited by: Laurie Patsalides • updated: 2/15/2012

Introduce young students to archeology by having them dig, learn about excavation and explore like archaeologists. This project will teach the children patience and the thrill of a good find.

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    You will need the following items to complete this project:

    1. Sandbox
    2. Fake bones or bones from last nights chicken dinner!
    3. Shovels
    4. Paintbrushes
    5. Fossil kit
    6. Magnifying Glasses
    7. Notebook
    8. Pencils

    Follow the directions below to complete your excavation:

    1. Completely wash the chicken bones or purchase fake (pretend) bones.
    2. Bury the bones in a portable sandbox that you can create with large, plastic bowls, or in a schoolyard sandbox, if available. Some Pre-K classrooms have water tables for exploration. If you have a higher grade, and a Pre-K classroom in the building, then you may be able to borrow one. Bury at least one bone for each student.
    3. Give the students a lesson about old bones and how archaeologists dig and find bones. Define archaeologist and excavation.
    4. Make sure that the children know that archaeologists take their time when they dig. They go slow so that they don't damage any of the bones. When they find bones, they carefully clean them off with brushes.
    5. Tell the children they are going to practice being archaeologists. Ask them how they are going to dig for the bones. Their response should be, slowly and carefully.
    6. Have the children stand in a circle around the sandbox (or sandboxes if using large bowls). Make sure that each child knows to stop after they find one or two fossils, so that other children have a chance to "be" archaeologists.
    7. Give the children the necessary tools to do their excavating. Let them know that if they are not careful and break the bone, then it will affect their grade.
    8. After they have found the bones, they should brush the sand off gently.
    9. Next, give magnifying glasses to observe the bone more closely.
    10. When the experiment completed, have the children document the experience in a notebook. An important part of being a scientist is keeping accurate records.
    11. For management, you could easily turn this into a center time activity and choose the number of students that can be at the center at the same time.
    12. For fun, have students examine a dog "bone" and compare how it looks to the fake bone.
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    by Dave Dyet