Grade Level: 1-3
Time: Approximately one hour.
Purpose: Students are introduced to the concept of a dig site and the use of simple grids.
Skills: The science and mathematics process skills used include: observation, classification, simple grids and bar graphs.
— At the Mammoth Site we use the bone bed and our Junior Paleontologist dig as a visual for the students. For teachers too far away to visit the Mammoth Site, a mock dig could be set up in any size box using chicken bones or plastic bones for fossils, plastic spoons and small paint brushes for tools.
Overview: Students examine a variety of soil samples and then conduct a simulated "dig" in a grid of no-bake cookie bars.


A variety of soil samples, such as potting soil, sandy soil, soil with more pebbles or clay. Samples may be collected from various places on the school grounds or from students' yards. Paper plates to hold soil samples and cookie bars for each student. Toothpicks for each student to "dig" in soil and cookie bars. Large pan of no-bake cookie bars, such as Rice Krispie bars, with up to four non-melting ingredients such as raisins, macaroni, lima beans, peanuts, or sunflower seeds still in the shell. The idea is to provide a chunky cookie bar with obvious parts. Students may bring ingredients from home and make the pan of cookie bars during class as practice in measurement skills. Sticky notes. Small squares or circles of different colors, one type for each non-melting ingredient in the cookie bars. Optional poster board grid (laminated for re-use) for constructing bar graphs and dry erase markers for labeling the grid. Alternatively a grid can be drawn on the chalk board.


Preparation: Students bring ingredients for cookie bars from home and small bags of soil from their yards.
— Teacher and class makes pan of "chunky" cookie bars.

Paleo Cookie Dig:
— Students work in small groups to examine and compare a variety of soil samples. Using paper plates and toothpicks to separate and group similar materials, they examine the materials.
— Students discuss what they observed, what soil is made of and how soil varies depending on where it is found.
— The teacher introduces the concept of systematic investigation of an area of soil dividing the area into squares called "quadrants". The teacher then cuts the pan of cookie bars into quadrants.
— Each student places a quadrant on a paper plate and carefully picks it apart using a toothpick. All parts of their quadrant are grouped by type on their plate, e.g. all raisins together. The Rice Krispies are also placed in a large pile.
— After digging apart their quadrants, students then count how many of each type of material is on their plate.
— Students construct a class bar graph using "sticky" notes on a laminated poster board grid.
— Students analyze the graph to see if all the quadrants were the same or different.
— The class discusses how this procedure is used by scientists to systematically study a plot of soil or bonebed such as the Mammoth Site.