Five Backyard Bucket Gem Mining Ideas
Everybody loves gem mining, or at least I hope so because it's super awesome! While you can usually find a gem mining operation in tourist towns and areas, they're sometimes a little harder to come across near your home.
Luckily we have a solution that is super easy to setup and is an absolute ton of fun!
This tutorial will teach you how to setup a gem mining operation right in your backyard. Another important note is that these DIY backyard bucket gem mining ideas do not require ordering expensive gem mining buckets online. All you're going to need is a bucket, a few other readily available items, and you'll be ready to gem mine at home whenever you want!
After we learn how to make a super simple backyard bucket gem mining operation, we'll then show you how to use that information for several other awesome excavation ideas that will have your children, students, neighbors, friends, and pretty much anyone that comes to your backyard gem mine begging for more!
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Backyard Bucket Gem Mining Idea #1: Easy Gem Mining Buckets
Here is the basic list of items you will need for backyard bucket gem mining:
1. Gemstones, rocks, and minerals. Take a stroll through the woods and collect some rocks that catch your eye. You will want to gather an assortment of different sizes, shapes, and colors if possible. This is the cheapest approach and it's a lot of fun walking around and being a rock hound for a moment.
Gathering free rocks is not always an option for everyone. A quick online or Amazon search for assorted rocks and minerals will give you plenty of options to purchasing the items needed for your backyard bucket gem mining activity.
Pro tip: Many of the rock and minerals assortments purchased online will have ID cards to help in identifying the specimens. These are fun to provide gem mining participants so they can identify their finds and it is also educational.
2. Bucket. You are going to need a bucket or container of some kind to hold your specimens and sand. Metal pails are very cool and add to the gem mining vibe. You can also use plastic sand castle beach buckets. Five gallon plastic buckets are another awesome option and these are great if you're really wanting to extend the time of the activity.
3. Sand. Using sand in your backyard bucket excavation is the easiest method to insure an easy excavation activity. You can buy bags of playground sand at local hardware stores and they are reasonably inexpensive (but heavy!).
For older kids looking for a more involved activity, you can mix clay with the sand to make the gem mining more challenging.
4. Watering can. This is my preferred method to create a "sluicing" experience. It allows a little more control than a water hose, especially with younger children, but a water hose is still perfectly fine if that is your only option. You could also poke holes in the lid of a water bottle for another DIY alternative to create the sluicing effect.
5. Strainer or colander. I like to shop the cooking section at the dollar store for these items. Colanders work great but make sure you purchase one with holes that will not allow your specimens to get through. You can also find strainers in beach toy bundles. Strainers with handles work really well for our backyard bucket gem mining activity.
6. Shovel or spade. You will need a little shovel or spade to transfer the material from the bucket to the strainer.
7. Collection bag. Be sure to have a plastic bag or some other way for the kids to collect the specimens they discover. Little cloth drawstring bags are really cute and kids love using them to collect and keep the rocks and minerals they find.
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Now that we have all our supplies, let's finish our backyard bucket gem mining tutorial by discussing how the whole operation works. It's super easy, I promise!
Find an area that can get a little messy and be easily cleaned up.
Put your rocks and minerals in your bucket.
Add the sand and mix well with the rocks and minerals. Layering works best as the sand can get difficult to mix. Simply add some rocks, then sand, then more rocks, and so forth until your bucket is full.
Fill the watering can with water (not so much water that it's too heavy for little arms).
Put the shovel in the bucket.
Give each child a strainer or colander and a collection bag.
Instruct the children on taking one scoop of sand at a time and then show the how to use the watering can to wash the sand away.
Have the children put the specimens they discover in the collection bag to be identified later.
Repeat and have a blast during your backyard bucket gem mining adventure!
See? Super easy! Now let's look at a few more variations that will take this activity to a whole other level of awesomeness.
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Backyard Bucket Gem Mining Idea #2: Crystal Mining Buckets
Crystals are super cool and these are a hit not only with children, but many adults as well. Quartz points, amethyst chunks, and my personal favorite selenite, are all readily available for purchase online.
These crystals are usually very reasonably priced. They also come in large sizes, that when added to a backyard bucket gem mining activity, make for really impressive finds.
Pro tip: Depending on where you live, you can sometimes take a stroll through the woods and collect some beautiful and amazing quratz specimens for free that you can include in your crystal gem mining buckets.
Looking for a gem mining activity that you and your kids can enjoy from the comfort of your own home? Look no further than this DIY gem mining tutorial! Unlike other mineral-themed activities, this one allows you to create your own block filled with custom gemstones for your kids to dig through.
Simply mix sand and Plaster of Paris, add in your chosen gemstones, and let it dry overnight. You can even add colored sand or biodegradable glitter for extra sparkle. This fun and educational activity is sure to foster a love for science and exploration in your young adventurers!
Backyard Bucket Gem Mining Idea #3: Gem Mining Birthday Party Buckets
For this backyard gem mining bucket idea, we are going to scale things down but still keep it super awesome and enjoyable. This activity is an absolute must for a geology themed birthday party. Gem mining buckets can also be combined with our DIY Gem Mining to create the best rock and mineral themed birthday party ever.
Head to your local dollar store and grab a batch of small metal pails. You will need one for each guest. You can also find these online for usually around a dollar apiece.
While you're shopping online, buy a mixed bag of small sized gemstones. If you are extremely lucky, you can find a bag of "sweepings" for sale. These are literally bags of mixed gemstones, rocks, and minerals from a workshop floor and can often be loaded with amazing treasures. It is important for this activity that the average size of the specimens is around 1/4 of an inch.
I also encourage you to purchase some shovel spoons. These are literally little spoons that look like shovels and are perfect for this activity. Be sure to purchase a few extras as some excited gem miners can snap these on occasion. Have no fear if you can't find these as regular plastic spoons will work just fine.
Buy a bundle of cloth drawstring bags and make sure you have one for each birthday party guest. It is also a good idea to use a sharpie and put each person's name on their bag.
Lastly, provide each participant with a spray bottle and a small strainer.
The main idea with this backyard bucket gem mining idea is to keep everything small. The participants will still love the treasures they find, without the host having to deal with the extra weight and hassle of larger gem mining buckets.
This is a fun rock and gem birthday party activity that does not break the bank and the kids really seem to enjoy this fun and exciting excavating adventure.
Backyard Bucket Gem Mining Idea #4: Break Your Own Geodes Buckets
This activity is great for a geode themed birthday party or just for a fun afternoon of awesome geology filled fun. Simply get your bucket, sand, and your other items from the tutorial above. Add a couple geodes to the mix and you are on your way to a super cool and unique backyard bucket gem mining activity.
Pro tip: Once the geodes have been discovered, it is time to break them open and observe the beautiful crystals inside. You're going to need a hammer, safety goggles, a hard surface, and an old sock. That's right, I said an old sock! This break your own geode hack is great for keeping all the pieces in one place, but most importantly helps reduce the risk of a piece flying into an eye.
Simply slide the geode into the sock, lay it on a hard surface, and firmly tap it with a hammer until you feel it break. Try not to hit the geode too hard at first as you could smash it into too many little pieces.
Backyard Bucket Gem Mining Idea #5: Gem Mining Buckets For Adults
If you are looking for a unique party idea for adults than look no further. You're probably going to want to use the big five gallon buckets for this option as adults tend to move a little faster through the material.
This is a great activity for a friend's birthday that is a rock lover, or you can make this into a nice gift and give it to them to enjoy at their convenience.
Mining and Gemstone Fun Facts: Digging up Fascinating Discoveries
here are some fun facts for kids about mining and gemstones:
Mining is the process of extracting minerals and other valuable resources from the Earth's crust.
Diamonds are the hardest mineral on Earth and can only be scratched by another diamond.
The biggest diamond ever found was the Cullinan diamond, which was discovered in South Africa in 1905 and weighed over 3,100 carats.
The Hope Diamond, one of the most famous diamonds in the world, is believed to be cursed because many of its owners have met with misfortune.
Gemstones come in many different colors and varieties, including rubies, emeralds, sapphires, and amethysts.
The colors of gemstones are caused by the presence of different minerals and trace elements.
Many gemstones are formed deep within the Earth's crust, where high temperatures and pressure cause minerals to crystallize and form beautiful stones.
Some of the largest gemstones ever found include the Golden Jubilee diamond, the Millennium Star diamond, and the Black Star of Queensland sapphire.
Mining can be dangerous and requires specialized equipment and training to ensure the safety of workers.
Some of the other minerals that are commonly mined include coal, copper, gold, and silver.
The backyard bucket gem mining activity is a ton of fun, can be created inexpensively, and makes a great addition to a homeschool or classroom lesson. This DIY gem mining experience also makes an absolutely awesome birthday party activity!
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!