This is one of my favorite excavation activities because you end up with these really cute little dinosaur shaped excavations. These mini dinosaur digs are not only really cool to look at, but they are super easy to excavate and make great party favors of classroom excavations. 
Fun facts: There were more than 700 species of dinosaurs.
Watch the quick video tutorial or read on for more detailed instructions:
  • 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
  • Little plastic dinosaurs.
  • Small cups. Plastic, Styrofoam, paper and even condiment cups work fine.
  • Dinosaur shape. I found some dinosaur skull pencil toppers online that work perfect. You could even use the plastic dinosaurs you are going to put in the excavation. We are going to use these simply to make a dinosaur shape to give our mini dinosaur dig a cool look.
  • Model Magic

Pro tip: Make a big batch of these for your next dinosaur themed birthday party. Not only do these make a great activity to entertain the party guests, but the item they uncover can be one of their take home party favors. 


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  1. Press a wad of Model Magic into the bottom of the cup. 
  2. Now press the dinosaur shaped item into the Model Magic. You will want to push it deep enough to leave an imprint that we will fill with our excavation mix. This imprint will make our Mini Dinosaur Dig look like a dinosaur.
  3. Gently remove the dinosaur item and try not to disturb the Model Magic too much.
  4. Put one cup of sand in your mixing bowl.
  5. Add one-half cup Plaster of Paris. This is a little ore plaster than our standard ratio as we want to make sure to our dinosaur image isn't to fragile. 
  6. Use the wooden spoon to mix the sand and Plaster of Paris.
  7. Add one-third cup of water and mix.
  8. Keep adding small amounts of water until you reach a pancake like batter consistency. 
  9. Pour the mixture into the cup. You will want to fill the cup to a level that will provide enough room in which to hide the dinosaur. 
  10. Gently tap the sides of the container to remove any air bubbles.
  11. Push the dinosaur down into the mixture. Be sure to do so gently so you do not disturb the imprint. The dinosaur may try and float to the surface. You can push it back under as the mixture stiffens.
  12. Set the Mini Dinosaur Dig in a safe location to dry undisturbed overnight. I like to put the excavation in front of a fan.
  13. Once the excavation has dried, carefully remove it from the cup. You may need to cut the cup away. Gently pull the Model Magic off of the excavation and allow the excavation to continue to dry.

Pro tip: Store your Model Magic in a air tight container or plastic bag to use for more excavation activities or just for fun imaginative play. 

Now the Mini Dinosaur Dig 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: You can scale this activity up to any size that you want. You can also use this method to create pretty much any excavation shape you prefer. 

I hope you enjoyed this super quick tutorial and enjoy making the Mini Dinosaur Dig. These excavations are very easy to make, inexpensive, and a lot of fun!
Pro tip: Use this activity to create some excitement around discussions or lessons regarding dinosaurs and paleontology. 
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Happy Excavating!