Peanuts, almonds, and other nuts are delicious snacks. But did you know peanut cans make super awesome excavation containers? Every time I empty a peanut can, I hold onto it and use it to make an awesome excavation activity. The metal cans work great, the labels look cool, and most come with a plastic lid that you can keep and include in your Peanut Can Excavation. 
Fun facts: It takes about 540 peanuts to make a 12-ounce jar of peanut butter.
Important: Always be aware of any nut allergies. Simply choose another type of container should any of your excavating adventurers have a nut allergy. 
  • 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
  • Items to excavate. You can pick whatever you want, just make sure it will fit in the peanut can. 
  • Peanut, almond, or any metal mixed nut can. Be sure to hold onto the lid as mentioned above. 

Pro tip: There are some really large containers of mixed nuts available at many grocery stores. If you are lucky enough to end up with one of these containers, go ahead and use it to make a jumbo excavation activity! You can hide large items or a whole bunch of little items in these oversized containers. Be sure to let your excavating adventurer know that the excavation does not have to be completed in one day. They can even have siblings or friends help them with this gigantic dig. 


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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 items to be excavated into the peanut can. 
  7. Pour a layer of the mixture into the peanut can to cover the excavation items.
  8. Gently tap the sides of the peanut can to remove any air bubbles. This will also allow a little mixture under the excavation items.   
  9. Set the Peanut Can Excavation in a safe location to dry undisturbed overnight. I like to put the excavation in front of a fan.
  10. Once dry, put the lid on the Peanut Can Excavation. 

Pro tip: While we have discussed that metal nut cans make great excavation activity containers, keep your eyes open for other containers. You will be surprised by the endless options that may be in your recycle bin as we speak. 

Now the Peanut Can Excavation 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: For younger excavating adventurers, instead of a regular excavation, you can hide the excavation items in kinetic sand to be discovered. This is a great sensory play activity and the kinetic sand can be stored in the peanut can after use. 

I hope you enjoyed this super quick tutorial and enjoy making the Peanut Can Excavation. 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 agriculture, orchards, and George Washington Carver.
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Happy Excavating!