What child doesn’t like a trip to the museum? Glimpsing at other times and civilizations. Wondering what it would be like to walk with the dinosaurs whose bones tower high above. Maybe imagining you’ re an archaeologist, holding in your own hands something that lived millions of years ago………
We all want to bring special memories and learning experiences to our children even though we can’t necessarily jet off to spend months digging through quarries with tiny brushes or transport them through time and space to distant civilizations nor would we even want to. But that doesn’t mean such experiences cannot be found to a smaller degree within our own backyards if we just know where to look.
Searching for fossils is a favorite, fun, free activity my family and I enjoy. It can pretty much be done anywhere. Our best discovery spots are creeks on land owned by friends and relatives and believe it or not the school playground. You see, the playground is filled with the small rounded pebbles that companies sell after having acquired them by dredging rivers and creeks. We have always been able to find fossils and other cool things like fairy crosses (Staurolite), arrowheads and other Native American artifacts in creeks, and as you would expect the pebbles gathered and dumped on the playground can hide such things as well.
Every time we go to search at the school we come home with pockets full of fossils and sometimes small arrowheads. Most are of what we find are Crinoids, small marine animals dating at 355-440 million years ago. All that remains of them is what was their stem like trunk which fossilized looks like a worn out bolt without the head. We have also found rocks with the imprint of leaves and fish fins on them. Our prize playground find is a fossilized small horn which my eldest son, Jessen discovered about two years ago, right behind the swing sets.
Everywhere we are in someway holds the past. Does your own local playground or wading creek hold such goodies just waiting to be unearthed? I don’t know. But I do know how to find out! So maybe one lazy afternoon when you are looking for something fun and different to do, this little tid bit might provide a cool, out of the ordinary activity for you and your families.
Jennifer H. AOR