Once again Gordon from Creeping Toad (who many of you will already be familiar with) hosts a craft activity for you to try at home and this week it’s….Trilobites!

You don’t need anything complicated so read on and it’s over to Gordon:

Buxton is built on, and often, of, limestone, limestone that was formed in ancient tropical seas. 300 million years ago when our stone was being made there were no dinosaurs, no pteradactyls or tyrannosaurs, no giant reptiles swimming in prehistoric seas. Those ancient seas were still full of life and Buxton Museum has a wonderful collection of fossils from Carboniferous Seas. There are ammonites and lamellibranchs, corals and crinoids and trilobites. Trilobites are quite rare in our stones but they are there and are such fascinating animals they will be our first puppets in this session.

You will need:

➤ Some scrap card – doesn’t need to be big but card that can fold without cracking is good

➤ Drawing pencil

➤ Coloured pencils or pens

➤ Scissors

➤ A small stapler or roll of sticky tape

Step 1: Draw your trilobite

Fold the card in half longways and draw half a trilobite against the fold. You could use one of these photos for ideas or look up trilobite online – there were lots of different types: large, small, smooth, spiky, lumpy…..

Keep the card folded and cut out the trilobite

Step 2: Add some colour

Flatten out the card, copy your design onto the plain half and then colour it in. We don’t know what colours trilobites were. They might have been camouflaged – sandy, seaweedy, rocky colours. They might have been bright as rainbows – we don’t know. You can decide!

Step 3: fitting onto fingers

Use a piece of scrap card to cut a strip about 1cm wide and maybe 12 cm long. Roll this into a ring that will slide easily up and down a finger. Position the ring on the underside of the trilobite, about the middle, slip your stapler in and fix in place. No stapler? You could tape it in place instead, or glue it. You can always tape over staples if you worry that they might scratch your finger.

Step 4: Trilobite adventures

Now put the trilobite on your finger and set off to tell a trilobite tale! If you have a garden, you might go exploring (add another trilobite as a friend?). Through the undersea flowerbeds of the Back Garden Ocean. Past the lair of the Terrible Worms (= compost heap), over the Muddy Wellington Boots of Despair. No garden? How about a swim across the sandy seafloor of The Bed, clamber over the Coral Reef of Cushions, slide down the Book Mountains and onto the Carpet Wastes…


If you are looking at pictures of Carboniferous Sea Creatures, you might have a go at some others. Eurypterids might be made in the same way as trilobites but with bigger card. Some of those spectacular sharks and fishes we’ll look at in the next activity – or you could create them yourself just now!


Why not try an ammonite? Like an octopus in a shell – look at Nautilus on a film platform.  Nautilus have survived for hundreds of millions of years. The ammonites were their cousins – growing large (up to 2 m across) and tough, they lasted right through to the end of dinosaur days

Step 1: Ammonite shells

Fold card in half. Draw a shell on the card and cut out through both pieces of card so you have 2 shells.

Step 2: Colour

Set the shells side by side and colour them in – make sure you lie them down as mirror images – facing each other so they make a pair.

Step 3: Tentacles

I used an extra piece of card to make a tentacly head (with wobbly eyes) that I rolled into my finger-tube

Step 4: Fitting it all together 

Then I stapled the top of the shells together and fitted them on the tentacle ring. I used two extra bits of cards to add two longer tentacles (like a squid or cuttlefish).


Watch this activity with Gordon on YouTube:



We’d love to see your Trilobites! Share them with us on our social media channels:

FACEBOOK: facebook.com/BuxtonMuseumandArtGallery

TWITTER: twitter.com/BuxtonMuseum

INSTAGRAM: instagram.com/buxtonmuseum

Have fun and stay safe everyone 💪