Coffee Dough Fossils ~ Easy Recipe and Instructions

I have such fond memories of playing with soft, warm homemade dough that my mom, my sister and I used to make.  It kept us busy for hours, I’m sure much to my mom’s delight!  

Anyhow, I recently came across the recipe we had used in her recipe book and decided to share it with you all so that you too can have the same amount of fun with any little one’s, be they your children, grandchildren or someone else’s children!

The recipe is so easy.  If you don’t have coffee grounds, don’t worry, it just means that the dough will end up lighter in color and it will end up being more like salt dough.  You could always try asking a neighbour, friend, or try your local coffee shop or Starbucks to see if they have any spent coffee grounds to give you.  Alternatively, grab the same amount of soil and add it to the mix.  

Tips to ramp up the fun!

  • Prepare the brewed coffee in advance, giving it time to cool before getting the kids involved.
  • Give your paleontologist a dinosaur themed apron or long sleeved smock to stop clothes from getting messy.
  • Find replica dinosaur fossil toys, as not only can they be used to make imprints in the coffee dough, but can also be buried in sand/soil after for a fossil dig.
  • Make a hole in the top of the dough circles and you can hang them up when dry.

What you need to make coffee dough fossils:

You will more than likely have everything you need at home.  This is great as it really can be an inexpensive and fun way to keep the kids entertained.


Coffee Dough Fossil Recipe

You will need:

  • 1 cup used coffee grounds
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1/2 cup table salt
  • 1/2 cup brewed coffee that’s been left to cool
  • Wax or parchment paper
  • Mixing bowl
  • Baking tray or large bread board
  • Various objects to create fossil impressions

Time to get making!


  1.  Boil the kettle and make 1/2 cup of coffee, brewed as you normally would if you were going to drink it yourself.  If using coffee granules, use 1/2 tsp coffee and allow to cool.

  2. In the meantime, place the used coffee grounds, plain flour and table salt in a large bowl.

3.  Pour in the cooled brewed coffee and mix well.

4.  Tip the mix out onto the counter top, or whichever surface you’re using, and knead well.  If you find the mixture too dry, add a little water.  Conversely, if the mixture is too tacky, simply add more flour.  

5.  Roll the dough out with a rolling pin or flatten with your hands.  Then either cut shapes out using a circle cookie cutter or make more organic shapes by hand.

6.  Use dinosaur toys, shells, leaves, or anything else you have at home, to press into the coffee dough.

7.  Place a large piece of wax paper or baking parchment onto a bread board or baking tray and leave your coffee dough fossils to dry.

Try creating different textures with:

Don’t forget that there are many things that have left fossilized imprints in the earth.  How about trying some of these:

  • Shells
  • Ferns
  • Insect toys (not real insects!)
  • Toy fish
  • Toy bones
  • Pine tree leaves
  • Pine cones

Fossil Joke

Q.  What do you call a fossil that’s just lying there?

A.  Lazy bones!

fossil dough

Learning through play

If you think that playing with playdough is purely fun for kids, you’d be very much mistaken.  According to The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), there is so much learning involved in simply playing with playdough. 

  • Builds finger and hand strength so great for muscle development.
  • Develops imagination.
  • Gets little ones talking and communicating with whomever they are making/using playdough with.  It’s a great opportunity to teach new words.
  • Helps with maths skills either by making the dough from scratch through measuring ingredients or simply by counting playdough objects.
  • Can help socially by learning to share or take turns in using different items.
  • Teaches about science and ’cause and effect’.  How different things happen to playdough if things such as sand, glitter or even water are added.  

Fun fossil facts for kids

Now that you’ve made coffee dough fossils, here are some fun fossil facts that kids will love!

  1. Fossils from sea-living creatures have been found on Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world.
  2. It’s not just bones that can be fossilised, but plants, footprints and animal poo too!
  3.  Fossils are made when something that has died, leaves an imprint in the ground.  After decomposing, just the bones, claws and teeth are left behind.  A process then called petrification takes place and these are preserved underneath the ground as over time, mud, sand and water cover them up.
make fossil dough recipe

Fun coffee facts for kids

While you’re waiting for the coffee dough fossils to dry, take a look at these interesting coffee facts. 

  1.  Did you know that coffee beans are actually seeds?  They are found inside the fruit of the coffee plant.
  2. Brazil grows the most amount of coffee in the world.
  3. The word ‘coffee’ originates from the word ‘wine’ in Arabic.

I hope you have enjoyed teaching little ones how to have fun making coffee dough fossils.

Let me know if you have any questions and I’ll be glad to answer them.

how to make coffee dough fossils