In this quick and inexpensive tutorial, we are going to show you how to make a Cake ATM Excavation. You may have never heard of a cake ATM. I had never heard of one until recently when I ran across an awesome little video online of a little girl pulling a constant string of clear sleeves filled with dollar bills from her birthday cake. Her reaction was so excited and genuine that in typical Excavating Adventures fashion, we wanted to try and turn it into an excavation activity. Let's just say that this excavation turned out awesome!


These Cake ATM Excavations are super easy to make and are a great activity to use to surprise the young Excavating Adventurer in your life. We also have a Real Money Dig Kit tutorial that uses spare change to create a super cool excavation activity that is also a ton of fun. 


Be sure to check out our free Digital Dig virtual gem mining. Answer trivia and earn points you can redeem for free rocks, minerals, fossils, seashells, excavation kits and more! New ways to earn points are added often.





Plaster of Paris


Mixing Bowl

Wooden spoon

Measuring cups

Popsicle sticks – Popsicle sticks are inexpensive, readily available, and make great excavation tools.

Safety goggles or glasses – You we need to provide or borrow a set for each student.

Optional – Brushes and magnifying glasses.

Birthday cake ATM - You can buy these online for usually less than $10

Plastic bin or tray about the size of a shoe box

Enough dollar bills to fill each sleeve.

Little plastic dinosaurs or some other small toys to include in the excavation. You can also add a bunch of coins and rocks and minerals. 

Glue gun and glue sticks


Check out hundreds of exciting and unique Mini Dig kits! Excavating Adventures has a Mini Dig kit for everyone. Explore dig kits filled with rocks, minerals, fossils, gemstones, seashells, and more!


Excavating Adventures Pro Tip: Do not feel like you have to use real money in this excavation activity. Make a bunch of fun coupons and add these instead. You can make free movie night coupons, get out of a chore coupons, free ice cream coupons, or pretty much anything you like that would be fun and exciting for your Excavating Adventurer to discover. 




  1. Load the sleeves with the dollar bills.
  2. Use the glue gun to seal any cracks in the cake ATM to prevent the mixture from seeping inside. 
  3. Set the cake ATM in the center of the container. You can sprinkle some other toys or coins around the container as well. 
  4. Set something heavy on top of the cake ATM to keep it from trying to float. 
  5. Mix 1 cups sand with 1/3 cup Plaster of Paris.
  6. Add 1/3 cup of water and mix until you have a pancake batter consistency.
  7. Pour the mixture into the container and allow to set and firm up for about ten minutes. This will make a little base to hold the cake ATM in place. 
  8. Repeat the above steps to make more mixture. Add a few coins or toys each time you add the mixture. This will leave items at different layers to be discovered. Add mixture until you reach the top of the cake ATM.
  9. The cake ATM will have a plastic clip that is attached to the sleeves of money. Glue gun a dinosaur or two to the plastic clip. 
  10. Place the Cake ATM Excavation in front of a fan overnight until it is completely dry.
  11. Once the excavation is dry, sprinkle some sand on the surface of the excavation to camouflage the cake ATM. You can add more dinosaurs to the surface as well to decorate the excavation. 
  12. Distribute the excavation, excavation tools, and safety goggles to your Excavating Adventurer.
  13. Have fun watching as they remove the dinosaur to begin excavating and the cake ATM starts flowing a constant stream of money!
  14. You can then encourage them to dig in and discover the other fun items you have hidden inside. 



Coins of the Ages: Exploring the Shining World of Metal Currency!

Fun Facts about Coins and Metals:

  1. Coins have been used as a form of currency for thousands of years, with some of the earliest coins dating back to ancient civilizations like the Greeks and Romans.

  2. In ancient times, coins were often made of precious metals like gold and silver, reflecting their value and importance in trade.

  3. Different metals have been used to make coins throughout history, including copper, bronze, nickel, and even iron.

  4. The use of metals in coins continued into modern times, with many countries minting coins from alloys such as bronze, copper-nickel, and stainless steel.

  5. The value of coins is often determined by the metal content they contain. For example, a silver coin is generally worth more than a copper coin due to the higher intrinsic value of silver.

  6. Some coins have unique designs and patterns imprinted on them, showcasing the history, culture, or important figures of the issuing country.

  7. Ancient coins often feature gods, emperors, or symbols of power, providing a glimpse into the societies and beliefs of the past.

  8. Coins are typically minted in specific shapes and sizes, with round being the most common, but some countries have minted coins in unique shapes like square or hexagonal.

  9. The study of coins is called numismatics, and coin collectors, known as numismatists, enjoy collecting and studying coins from different eras and regions.

  10. Metal coins can last for a long time, and it's not uncommon to find ancient coins that have survived for centuries, offering a tangible link to the past.

  11. Some coins are made from bi-metallic compositions, where different metals are layered or fused together, creating distinct designs and color variations.

  12. In modern times, many countries have transitioned to using non-metallic coins or coins with metal plating to reduce production costs and increase durability.

Coins have played a significant role in our history and continue to be fascinating artifacts that tell stories of civilizations, culture, and economics!

Take some time to explore our science website for kids filled with all kinds of awesome goodies. We have monthly excavations that get delivered right to your door, Build Your Own excavations, a blog filled with amazing excavation ideas, trivia, tons of free stuff and much, much, more!


Question 1: Which ancient civilizations were among the first to use coins as currency? A) Egyptians and Mayans B) Greeks and Romans C) Vikings and Aztecs D) Chinese and Persians

Correct answer: B) Greeks and Romans

Question 2: What is numismatics? A) The study of ancient languages B) The study of weather patterns C) The study of coins D) The study of marine life

Correct answer: C) The study of coins

Question 3: What determines the value of a coin made of precious metals? A) Its age B) Its design C) Its metal content D) Its size

Correct answer: C) Its metal content