Everybody loves gem mining! Although you can usually find a gem mining operation in tourist areas, they're sometimes a little harder to come across near your home. Since we all love gem mining, I'm going to teach you how to setup a gem mining operation right in your backyard with a bucket and just a few other readily available items so you can gem mine whenever you want!
Here are some of the things you will need. Like all of our DIY and excavation hacks, you can pretty much take this basic tutorial and tweak it any way you like.
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 your specimens.
2. Bucket. You are going to need a bucket or container of some kind to hold your specimens and sand.
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 perfectly fine.
5. Strainer or colander. I like to shop the cooking section at the dollar store for these items. Colanders work great but make sure to 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.
Ready to gem mine at home every month? Check out one of our monthly Excavating Adventures called Geology Quest. But unlike regular gem mining, you will use a chemical reaction to discover the awesome specimens from around the world we have hidden inside this awesome adventure!
Now that we have all our supplies, let's finish our backyard bucket 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.
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/colander and collection bag.
Instruct the children on taking one scoop of sand at a time and then using 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!
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!
Pumice rock is formed during explosive volcanic eruptions and floats on water because it has an incredibly low density due to the air bubbles inside of it.