Rocks and Fossils Loan Box

Teacher Guidance Notes

Imagine finding something from millions of years ago.
How cool would that be?
Well, you can!
Fossils are made from animals and plants that died a long time ago – sometimes over 200 million years ago.
You can find fossils in the UK, you just need to look hard enough!
Have a look amongst the rocks and see what you can spot.

This box is full of a range of rocks and fossils for children to look at, handle, compare, consider and discuss, enabling them to experience rocks and fossils at first hand.

The Rocks and Fossils Loans Box Supports the Key Stage Two National Curriculum in the following ways:

  • Opportunity for pupils to explore different kinds of rocks and fossils, including those in the local environment.
  • View and handle a selection of rocks and fossils
  • Identify
  • Describe
  • Sort and classify
  • Identify similarities and differences
  • Develop their speaking and listening skills
  • Use appropriate vocabulary
  • Develop knowledge and understanding of sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic rocks and how they were formed

Lower Key Stage 2, Science

Pupils should learn about rocks.

  • They should compare and group together different kinds of rocks on the basis of their appearance and simple physical properties.
  • They should be able to describe in simple terms how fossils are formed when things that have lived are trapped within rock.
  • Pupils should recognise that soils are made from rocks and organic matter.

Upper Key Stage 2, Science

Pupils should learn about evolution and inheritance

  • Recognise that living things have changed over time and that fossils provide information about living things that inhabited the Earth millions of years ago.
  • Pupils should also find out about the work of paleontologists such as Mary Anning.

The resources in the Rocks and Fossils Loans Box provide opportunities for pupils in Lower KS2 to work scientifically by:

  • Observing rocks and fossils from the local area and exploring how and why they might have changed over time;
  • Using a hand lens or microscope to help them to identify and classify rocks according to whether they have grains or crystals, and whether they have fossils in them.
  • Pupils might research and discuss the different kinds of living things whose fossils are found in sedimentary rock and explore how fossils are formed.

The resources in the Rocks and Fossils Loans Box provide opportunities for pupils in Upper KS2 to build on what they have learnt and to work scientifically by:

  • Finding out more about how living things on earth have changed over time.
  • They should be introduced to the idea that characteristics are passed from parents to their offspring, for instance by considering different breeds of dogs, and what happens when, for example, Labradors are crossed with poodles.
  • They should also appreciate that variation in offspring over time can make animals more or less able to survive in particular environments, for example, by exploring how giraffes’ necks got longer, or the development of insulating fur on the arctic fox.
  • Pupils might find out about the work of palaeontologists such as Mary Anning and about how Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace developed their ideas on evolution.
Vocabulary that could be covered during lessons using the Rocks and Fossils Loans Box:
  • Palaeontology …. The scientific study of fossils to determine how organisms changed over time, interacted with each other and lived in their environments.
  • Organism …. A living thing or system, such as a vertebrate, insect, plant or bacterium.
  • Era….. a period of time marked by an event or change on earth
  • Epoch…… a period of time within an era
  • Sediment…. a layer (of sand, soil, volcanic lava for example)
  • Palaeozoic era…. the first major layer of fossils
  • Mesozoic era…. the second major layer of fossils (the dinosaur layer)
  • Cenozoic era….the third, most recent, major layer of fossils
  • Body fossil…. Fossil made up on bones and body part
  • Trace fossil….fossil created by imprints or decayed fossils

Suggested activities to do before or alongside using the Rocks and Fossils Loans Box:

  • Visit the Dorking Museum website for research purposes

  • Research and find out about the significance of Lord Ashcombe and his fossil collection

Lord Ashcombe’s Teeth – Useful background information

Lord Ashcombe grew up as George Cubitt during the Victorian period. He was the son of the famous Master Builder, Thomas Cubitt, whose statue stands opposite the Dorking Halls. Thomas Cubitt was a brilliant Master Builder who was responsible for some of the important buildings across London and further afield, including the east front of Buckingham Palace and Osbourne house on the Isle of Wight. George Cubitt inherited the Denbies Estate from his father – including 3,900 acres of land which employed over 400 workers. The land on the Denbies estate was rich with fossils. George Cubitt was aware of a variety of fossils that were being unearthed by his workers, and he rewarded them generously for bringing fossils to him. Over time, he built up one of the most extensive and significant collections of fossil specimens of our time. It remains a scientific collection of national and international importance of his day. George Cubitt’s collection became known affectionately as ‘Lord Ashcombe’s Teeth’ after he became the 1st Baron Lord Ashcombe. After he died the remarkable collection was donated to Dorking Museum.

Mole Valley Geological Society ( 

Useful websites

Oxford University Museum of Natural History, Learning Zone

Fill in our online form to enquire about booking the loan box.

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