Create an Easy Archaeology Dig Site For Kids!

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Perfect for a warm Spring day, and lots of fun to boot, try setting up an archaeology dig site for your kids!  Captain, like many 5 year olds, loves dinosaurs and digging in the earth.  She asked me to set up this dig site for her, and it was terrific fun.

You’ll Need:

Plastic dinosaur bones (preferably the ones that snap apart so that the dinosaur can be reassembled at the end.) Or, for younger kids, solid plastic or rubber dinosaurs (no assembly required)

Digging tools like little shovels and a spade

Different sized paintbrushes

Camera

2 paper signs for the dig sites.  I recommend doing 2 separate sites, even if they are close together, if you have the space.  This mimics “real” archaeology, as there are often multiple sites in the same area.  I made signs that said “Archaeology Dig Site #1 of 2” and “Archaeology Dig Site #2 of 2”. This was the perfect time to show Captain what 1 of “any” number means.  I explained at the site that it is like when you receive multiple packages from one source and they are marked in this way to keep track of how many there is total.  She got it immediately.

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Go outside, without the kiddos, dig some holes and plant the bones/dinosaurs.  Be sure to count the parts so that you don’t lose track of them!  Tape a little sign on a tree, or lay it on the ground, to mark the two sites.

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At the site, encourage the kids to dig first with stick, shovel or spade. When they discover a bone, they can use the paintbrushes to remove dirt. Explain (if they don’t already know!) that when an archaeologist gets close to a fossil, they are extremely careful to not chip or break the piece. Brushes and other tools might be used for a very long time to ensure that no damage is done to the relic.  After each bone is discovered, Captain carried it over to a separate area so that it didn’t get stepped on. This collection-area is where the bones will be identified, photographed, and reassembled.

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We took turns taking photos as there is ALWAYS a photographer at the site.  Here at the collection area, Captain is assembling a triceratops.

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I found all the pieces Mom!

I was surprised at how much time Captain took with this activity.  We talked about fossils, relics, and what kinds dinosaurs could have walked the earth, in our area, millions of years ago.  We are currently saving our money (Captain donated her Scooby Doo wallet full of coins :)) for a trip next summer to a real archaeology dig in Utah.  We can’t wait!

You can find some fun archaeology (Egyptian) worksheets & coloring sheets here at schoolexpress.com.  Dinosaur coloring pages can be found at EducationalColoringPages, and dinosaur craft ideas and coloring pages can be found at DLTK’s crafts for kids.

I hope you have fun setting up and digging for bones with your kids.  It is wonderful family time and exciting for imaginations!

Ancient, dusty, good thoughts to all,

Karen

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Categories: Homeschooling Projects, Science Rocks For Kids! | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

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19 thoughts on “Create an Easy Archaeology Dig Site For Kids!

  1. Charlotte

    They do love finding stuff when digging – I remember digging the hugest hole in our garden when I was a kid. I’d seen a documentary on them uncovering roman coins and broken dishes and decided to go looking for ‘treasures’. When I got almost a metre down I think my mum felt sorry for me as, when I returned from lunch I discovered all sorts of coins suddenly in my hole lol
    My grandparents fossick for rocks and stones and send the kids little boxes of trimmings from when they cut them – one day I’ve promised the kids we will go fossicking with them.

    • Aww, moms will bury just about anything to keep us happy. That is a sweet story! How wonderful that your parents are rock hounds, the kids will love to do this too one day! We love geodes and stones as well, and have many plans to go hunting for those as well. My dad used to pan for gold and we live in an area where that would be a fruitful endeavor. I can’t wait! Captain wants to be an archaeologist as well as a wildlife photographer and a scientist. Because of her, it is easy to make all of these things a reality 🙂

  2. What a lovely idea! We’re big archaeology fans and are quite addicted to Time Team from the UK. How did you go about finding a dig to visit?

    • Hello! I am wondering what Time Team is and will have to look it up as it sounds fun! I looked online for a real dig to take Captain on, as she has been asking for over a year to go. She is pretty realistic about how a “real” dig is, lots of hours in the hot sun etc. and really wants to do this! I wanted to find a place that we could drive to from the mountains here in California. This dig looks to be quite authentic, and the days include searches for topaz and also geode hunting.
      ( http://www.dinosaursrock.com/Utah_Fossil_Dig.html ) It looks terrific and is quite expensive, so we are hoping to start getting some dollars into the coffee can to save up soon 🙂 Captain wants to be a archaeologist, a wildlife photographer and a scientist and I would love for her to be able to try this out! I will do some more research, ahead of reservations, when the time comes to be sure that this is a good one!

      • I really appreciate the details of the dig that you’re hoping to visit – sounds wonderful, and it provides inspiration for us. Time Team is a must-see for any archaeology fans; it’s a wonderfully eccentric program from the UK that’s been running for two decades. We were thrilled when they finally released a DVD of their Roman digs for North American viewing (previously any DVDs could only be viewed in the Euro region). You should check out the Time Team site on Channel Four in the UK, and you can see the DVD I’m talking about on Amazon. It’s called Time Team: Unearthing the Roman Invasion. Happy digging!

  3. What a fun idea! I’m going to share this thought with my homeschool support group. It would make a great group activity!

  4. Betty Jo, I think it would be much more fun to do it as a group! With a little setup time, the dig sites could be ready to accommodate any number of kids. Working side by side with fellow archaeologists would be a cool experience! I hope you and your group decide to do it 🙂

  5. I planned to do something similar in their sandpit, as it is the only (sandy) place our dogs know they aren’t allowed to go, nevermind dig!
    Previously tried just in our garden in general, and dogs destroyed “the site”.
    Thanks for this great article and the links!

    • Yes, dogs can certainly make a mess of the dig site 🙂 Perhaps the dogs could hold off for a go it it in the garden one time!
      Thanks for writing, have a great day!

  6. I LOVE this idea! I have one of those bone kits and have been wanting to put it together with my boy, but this would make it into a full day adventure.

  7. Anonymous

    so freaking cool, mummy!

  8. That’s awesome! I love that you incorporated a trip to a real archaeological dig as well. Kids absolutely LOVE dinosaurs. Mostly because I think that they see dinosaurs as part of “imaginary creatures” that can never be seen, but the benefit is they can actually visit a museum, see the bones and fantasize about what the animals must have REALLY looked like while they roamed the earth. Great way to fascinate kids. I love what you planned!

    • Thank you so much for your comments! You are right about kids connecting the imagination with what they can find in “real” life at museums. Captain loves that people don’t really know what the dinosaurs looked like, and that an artist will recreate them in pictures according to what scientists think they could have looked like. She likes to draw and color her own. One day she made one that was pink, purple and orange with stripes and told me that it was as valid a guess as the tan and green apatosaurus! I was quite proud 🙂 Thanks so much for writing!

  9. I love the purpose built kits, this is a great way to create your own and bring archaeology and history to life. I’d love you to join me on Country Kids too. Thank you for sharing on the Summer Carnival.

  10. this would be a great project linked in with a museum visit. Brilliant 🙂

    • Yes, a museum visit would be a perfect way to add to the experience. I will have to wait to take Captain again when we are near a proper museum 🙂

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