Lesson Plans


Paleontology Portal Teachers’ Guide – Link

The Paleontology Portal includes: An interactive map that provides an overview of the paleontology and geology of each state, province, and region of the United States, Canada, and Mexico through geologic time; a map showing the shapes and positions of land masses and oceans during that time period; descriptions of the world geography and climate, and North American geology and paleontology, for that time period; images of fossil organisms from a specific taxonomic group, state and/or time period; information on significant fossil finds in North America; access to a searchable database that includes data from multiple museum collections


The Teacher-Friendly Guide to the Northeastern United States – Link

The guide is intended to make sense of regional geology and provide the tools to understand local geology. (For a color map of North Jersey geologic formations, click here )


Geologic History of the Northeastern U.S.: the BIG picture – Link

By understanding the historical context of the rocks and geologic processes observed in the Northeast region, (one) can make sense of geology. The rocks in your backyard fit into a much larger story of shifting plates and colliding continents. By knowing more about the geologic history of our region, you can better understand the type of rocks that are in your backyard and why they are there. For more on the formation of Pangaea, click here


Evolution: Its Effect Throughout Geological Time and the Controversy – Link

Students review the basics of Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. They study the Scopes “Monkey Trial” of 1925 in order to learn about the early controversy caused by the theory. They use the World Wide Web to explore the various stages of evolution, over geologic time, of organisms such as invertebrates, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. Students create a flow chart illustrating how life evolved from the simplest organisms to those that exist today, showing each geologic period, the organisms that appeared in it, and how each organism fits into the evolutionary story.


Learning From the Fossil Record – Link

Every young kid will tell you that dinosaurs and fossils are really cool or, in the words of one four-year old, “dinosaurs are cool and fossils are the best!” Dinosaurs and fossils are the window through which most kids and many adults now get their first introduction to science. Paleontology is art, science, and imagination; it inspires a wealth of curiosity by students about ancient life and helps all of us to know about our origins and how our world with humans came to be. More than any other science, paleontology can provide opportunities for young students to become involved in learning science.


Paleontologists and Paleontology Lesson Plan – Link

Grade 2 Lesson Plan on Paleontologists and Paleontology. Digging Up Dinosaurs, by Aliki. Harper & Row, Publishers: New York, 1988. (Find out how teams of experts work together to dig dinosaur fossils out of the ground, and put together skeletons that look like the dinosaurs that lived millions of years ago.)


How Do Scientists Find Dinosauer Fossils? – Link

Grades 3-5. Students have probably already studied dinosaurs in school, but they may not have learned much about the process by which paleontologists locate, excavate, and study dinosaurs. This lesson asks them to find out about this process and to write journal entries pretending they are on a dinosaur dig.


Life Has a History – Link

Life Has a History provides students with an introduction to the history of life and how it results in the biodiversity of today. During this tour students learn about geologic time, fossils, ancestral relationships, cladograms, variation, natural selection, and extinction. Life Has a History is designed for two different levels. Level One is written for grades K-4. Level Two is written for grades 5-12.