In this quick tutorial, we are going to show you how to make a giant sized excavation using an old cookie tin. We are then going to add a little extra awesomeness by painting the cookie tin with chalkboard paint so we can label the treasures your excavating adventurer will discover and want to store inside. 

This Cookie Tin Mega Dig is awesome because this large excavation is impressive in size, and the cookie tin lends itself well for a cool collection container. This is a great excavation tutorial to utilize if you have some larger items you would like to use as your items to excavate. You can use oversized plastic toy dinosaurs, big rocks, minerals, and gems, or large sized seashells that will not fit in smaller containers. 


Fun Fact: Tin is malleable, which means it can be pounded into a thin sheet. "Tin cry" is the name given to the screeching sound a bar of tin makes when bent. 
  • 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. 
  • Optional - You may want to provide a wooden mallet for this excavation to assist with the higher volume of excavating involved with this mega dig. 
  • Safety goggles
  • Small brush
  • Items to excavate. You can pick pretty much anything you like for this oversized dig. 
  • Cookie tin
  • Chalkboard paint and brush
  • Chalk


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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 your oversized items to the cookie tin. 
  7. Pour a layer of the mixture into the cookie tin to cover the items.
  8. Gently tap the sides of the cookie tin to remove any air bubbles. This will also allow a little mixture under and around the items.
  9. Set the Cookie Tin Mega Dig in a safe location to dry undisturbed overnight. I like to put the excavation in front of a fan. Due to the size of this excavation, it make take an extra day or two to dry completely. 


Now the Cookie Tin Mega Dig is ready to be enjoyed. Find an area that is easy to clean up, distribute the safety goggles, excavation tools, and let the excavating begin. Once the items have been discovered, clean them with a wet cloth. Use the chalkboard paint and brush to paint the cookie tin. You can choose to paint just the lid if you prefer. Once the chalkboard paint has dried, store the items inside and use the chalk to label the cookie tin. 

I hope you enjoyed this super quick tutorial and enjoy making a Cookie Tin Mega Dig. These excavations are very easy to make, inexpensive, a lot of fun, and a great way to get those larger items into an excavation!
Pro tip: Use this activity to create some excitement around discussions or lessons relating to the items you put in the excavation. 
If you love excavating as much as we do, be sure to check out our Excavating Adventures monthly subscription by clicking the link below and get an awesome new excavation delivered each month loaded with rocks, minerals, gemstones, fossils, and more!

Happy Excavating!