Free learning resources from arts, cultural and heritage organisations.

Using a Fossil Plant to Inspire Creativity

Recovery Curriculum Resources from Leeds Museum and Galleries

This resource is designed to support a recovery curriculum and can be used in any education setting. It complements the ‘Supporting the Return to School for All Pupils’ guidance in Leeds and the PACE approach of playfulness, acceptance, curiosity and empathy.

Photograph of a rock showing several fronds of fern fossilized on the surface
A Fossilised Plant


What art techniques could we use to make our own 'fossil'?

  • Printing – collect some different leaves and paint directly onto them and print. Try using different types of paints and inks to get the best result. Does the paint work runny or thick? Let children experiment and find out for themselves, you can add elements of science and enquiry for children who like this learning style. Try on paper first then print onto rocks found on walks or from a garden centre.
  • Make a fossil hidden in a rock. You can hide a plastic plant or animal in air hardening clay or a paste of wet bicarb. Then explore ways to find it, smashing, chipping or spraying with vinegar for fun fizz - again this has good cross-curricular possibilities.
  • Use light sensitive paper to create a fossil on paper.


Acceptance (self-esteem)

There is no such thing as bad art. As long as you try your best that art will mean something to you and that is what is important. Encourage children not to say what they are doing is rubbish etc. Ask them to focus on what they like about what they have produced. They can use this to build on another attempt or artwork. Sharing art works and art techniques with peers is great for self-esteem. Ask pupils to pick their favourite technique and teach it to a friend, another class or group in school, bubbles permitting.  



  • What is this fossilised plant? How could we find out?  Have you ever seen anything similar on a walk in the woods or in a garden?
  • Write a creative story or cartoon storyboard about the person who found it. What was the person doing when they found this fossil? Were they actually looking for fossils, or just walking along the beach or digging in their back garden? How did they feel: Were they excited as they were looking for fossils? Worried as they didn’t know what it was? Or were they disappointed because they were looking for dinosaurs? Try writing the story again from a different viewpoint - what is boring to one person is super exciting to another.
  • Role play finding the fossil - different groups can portray different emotions and feelings. Get pupils to interview each other. They could do this through a traditional hot seat or they could role play being a TV journalist or newspaper reporter. Prompt pupils to concentrate on the emotion that person is feeling. Again swap roles to encourage empathy.