I enjoy gift shops, maybe a little too much, and often end up with items I don't necessarily know what I'm going to do with at the moment. One such batch of items was a set of replica bear claws I picked up when traveling out west. I brought them home, gave them to my son, and eventually they made their way to the bottom of his toy box. Until... I thought I would make a Bear Claw Quest excavation activity and share it with you guys!
Fun facts: Some bears can run more than 35 miles an hour and they can do it downhill, along a slope, or even uphill.
  • Sand
  • Plaster of Paris
  • Water
  • Mixing bowl
  • Wooden spoon
  • Measuring cups
  • Excavation tools. Wooden dowels and other blunt instruments work well. Sharp tools are unsafe and not necessary as the excavations are reasonably brittle and excavate easily. 
  • Safety goggles
  • Small brush
  • Replica bear claws. I found mine at a gift shop but these are available online. 
  • Container - Any plastic container will do. 

Pro tip: Carefully drill a small hole in the bear claw. You can then run a little string through the bear claw so it can be worn as a necklace!


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  1. Put one cup of sand in your mixing bowl.
  2. Add one-third cup Plaster of Paris.
  3. Use the wooden spoon to mix the sand and Plaster of Paris.
  4. Add one-third cup of water and mix.
  5. Keep adding small amounts of water until you reach a pancake like batter consistency. 
  6. Add the replica bear claws to the container.  
  7. Pour a layer of the mixture into the container to cover the replica bear claws.
  8. Gently tap the sides of the container to remove any air bubbles. This will also allow a little mixture under the claws. 
  9. Optional - Decorate the surface of the excavation while it is still wet with sticks, leave, rocks, and other natural materials to give it a forest feel. 
  10. Set the Bear Claw Quest in a safe location to dry undisturbed overnight. I like to put the excavation in front of a fan.

Pro tip: Have an old piece of decaying log available. Once the replica bear claws have been discovered, encourage your excavating adventurer to dig at the rotten wood with the claw and observe the wood break apart. 

Now the Bear Claw Quest is ready to be enjoyed. Find an area that is easy to clean up, distribute the safety goggles and excavation tools, and let the excavating begin. 

Pro tip: There are many woodland creature animal assortments available for purchase. You can include these in the Bear Claw Quest excavation activity to add an additional layer of excitement. Your excavating adventurer can then create there own forest scenes once the animals have been discovered.   

I hope you enjoyed this super quick tutorial and enjoy making the Bear Claw Quest. These excavations are very easy to make, inexpensive, and a lot of fun!
Pro tip: Use this activity to create some excitement around bears, forests, mammals, and predators. 
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Happy Excavating!