Deep Time Toolbox for Educators

The "Deep Time Toolbox" educational materials were created as part of the professional development workshop of the same name. The program was funded by the Paleontological Society of America and geared towards 4th and 8th grade educators in North Carolina. The materials however, are not specific to North Carolina and can be used at any higher elementary/ middle school level, as well as high school. The GES department at AppState has Deep Time Toolbox loaner kits. If you're in the Western NC area and would like to borrow one, please contact our K12 Outreach Coordinator Marta Toran ( 

Feel free to use any of the materials below. If you'd like to modify any of the resources, please contact Marta Toran for the editable versions. 

Timeline Activities

  • Felt Rulers Timeline- The “Felt Ruler Geologic Timeline model” can be used as an Engager to introduce the topic of geologic time and illustrate the evolution of the major forms of life students in 4th grade would be familiar with (plants, mammals, dinosaurs, humans, etc). Note however that the ruler only portrays the last 2 Billion years of the Earth’s history. The activity can be followed by a role play using a 50m timeline where every meter is 100 Million years, and by the nail file analogy which is a great way to show the scope of human history within the Earth’s history. 

  • Timeline Teacher Cheat Sheet- This conversion chart will come in handy for teachers trying to recreate a geologic time scale in their class to scale. For example students, can represent different life forms along a 50m or 50 feet timeline. This is a useful drawing too. 


  • "What's that Fossil?"- This slideshow is intended as an engager activity for starting off the fossils unit. It goes well with fossils distributed around the class for students to explore. 

  • Fossil Types Chart- A simple handout with some examples of common fossils.  A more advance handout with examples of marine invertebrate fossils can be found here

  • Aurora Fossil Sediment- Can be used as table sign or slide describing the Aurora phosphate mine sediment, and showing some examples of things students might come across while sifting through the sediment.  The fossil record sheet and follow up questions can be used for drawing fossils students find in the sediment, then reading a short passage  about the Aurora phosphate mine sediment and answering questions about it. 

Fossilization Methods

  • Fossilize-Me! Concept Sorting activity-  Introduces students to various, simplified methods of fossilization based on the type of fossil it results in (mold, cast, trace and body). It can be used as an engager or as a review activity or game.

  • Fossilization Stations- Includes teacher instructions for how to set up each station and table tents (geared towards 4th grade). 

  • Fossil Making Challenge

Geologic Dating

  • How do we know how old the Earth is if nobody was around?

  • Biostratigraphy with Cards

  • Biostratigraphy with PVC Cores or Foam Boards