DIY Gem Mining
DIY GEM MINING
How To Make A DIY Gem Mining Kit At Home:
DIY Gem Mining Supplies:
- Plaster of Paris
- Mixing bowl
- Wooden spoon
- Measuring cups
- Gems - You can easily find large bags of assorted raw gemstones, rocks, and minerals online. I prefer to purchase the assorted bags of tumbled gemstones which are awesome in this DIY gem mining excavation.
- A container in which to pour the DIY gem mining excavation. This will need to be big enough to fit the amount of gems you plan to include. Plastic trays or containers work well.
- Spray bottle filled with water.
- Optional - Colored sand, small gravel (colored aquarium gravel is really cool!), or some other material to sprinkle across your excavation to give your excavation a little character. You can even use gold glitter (biodegradable kind if available) to make the gem mining excavation really sparkle.
- 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
DIY Gem Mining Instructions:
- Put one cup of sand in your mixing bowl.
- Add one-third cup Plaster of Paris.
- Use the wooden spoon to mix the sand and Plaster of Paris.
- Add one-third cup of water and mix.
- Keep adding small amounts of water until you reach a pancake like batter consistency.
- Scale the recipe up if more mixture is needed to fill your chosen container.
- Add your gemstones to your container.
- Pour a layer of the mixture into the container to cover the gems.
- Gently tap the sides of the container to remove any air bubbles. This will also allow a little mixture under the gems.
- Optional - sprinkle the colored sand or gravel across the wet surface of the gem mining excavation.
- If room permits, add another layer of gems or two if available and cover with more mixture.
- Set the gem mining excavation in a safe location to dry undisturbed overnight. I like to put the excavation in front of a fan.
Pro tip: Get a mixed bag of fossils and make a real fossil dig!
Now the gem mining excavation is ready to be enjoyed.
Find an area that is easy to clean up, distribute the safety goggles, spray bottle, and excavation tools, and let the excavating begin. Encourage this use of the spray bottle to simulate the sluicing action from a real gem mine. The water will soften the excavation and help reveal the treasures inside.
More Awesome Ways To Enjoy DIY Gem Mining at home:
1. Try Different Items In Your Dig Kits
Now that you know how to make your own dig kit, get creative and think up new ways to leverage this entertaining and educational activity. You can add pretty much anything you like to these awesome DIY Dig kits.
If your child is interested in dinosaurs, make an excavation kit filled with fossils. You can also add in fun little assorted plastic dinosaurs. These are great to include in the dig kit because once the excavating is finished, the toys can then be played with and enjoyed in the dirt and rubble left over from the digging.
If you do have a child or student that loves dinosaurs, be sure to check out our tutorial on several different methods to make DIY dinosaur eggs.
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2. Try Different Containers For Your Excavations
Use different types of containers to make really cool and unique DIY digs. Rectangle containers make great dig bars, that with a quick spray of gold paint, looks just like gold bars. Egg cartons and ice cube trays are great for making a bunch of little excavations. I also love rummaging through recycle bins for cool containers I can repurpose as excavation molds.
3. Make DIY Gem Mining Kits For Birthday Parties
Now that you know how to make dig kits, simply make a bigger batch of them for an upcoming birthday party. You will save a ton of money and kids absolutely love excavation activities.
Dig kits filled with rocks and minerals are inexpensive and easy to make, and are a huge hit for rocks and minerals themed birthday parties. You can even provide cute little drawstring bags for the guests that make great party favor bags the children can fill with their new found treasures and take home.
Dinosaur birthday parties are another popular theme. Just add some plastic toy dinosaurs to your dig kits and you now have an inexpensive and fun activity for the party.
Another popular party idea is a pirate theme. I love getting little wooden treasure boxes from the craft store and filling them with goodies for the guests to discover and enjoy. These little pirate treasure digs are really cute and the kids love them. I prefer to stick with real gemstones, but you can also find pirate coins online that are super cool and not very expensive.
You can also use plastic gold coins. Just be aware these will try and float in your excavation mixture. Just let the mixture set for a minute or two and then push the coins back below the surface of the dig.
A couple of final tips, you can sprinkle gold glitter on the surface of the excavation before it dries. This really makes the little pirate treasure chests sparkle. You can also provide each guest with a brush and set of watercolor paints and let them decorate and personalize their pirate treasure chest.
We even added toy race cars to a dig kit one year for a unique Hot Wheels themed birthday party activity that all the kids really seemed to enjoy!
4. Make DIY Gem Mining Kits For Classrooms
Just like for birthday parties, you can easily make a batch of DIY gem mining kits for a classroom full of students. This is really a great activity to include in any geology or Earth Science lesson because it is easy to make, inexpensive, and like I have said a million times, kids go crazy for dig kits!
Feel free to reach out to parents for any rocks, minerals, gemstones, and fossils they would be willing to donate. This will keep costs down and you may be surprised at what they are willing to share.
You may also consider reaching out any wood working shop, STEM class, or science lab at your school to see if you can borrow a set of safety goggles for the class as each student will need eye protection to excavate safely.
5. Make DIY Gem Mining Kits For Adults
You heard us right, adults have just as much fun gem mining as some kids!
A really interesting and important thing to note, as that as an adult, I actually find it relaxing and somewhat meditative to dig into an excavation block. The digging seems to slow a busy brain down a bit as you focus in on the activity and items you discover.
So make some dig kits for your adult friends, add something super cool to the excavations, and invite them over for a fun and unique dig party.
Here's a list of popular gemstones along with some scientific facts about each:
Diamond - Diamonds are composed of pure carbon and are the hardest naturally occurring substance on Earth. They form deep within the Earth's mantle and are brought to the surface by volcanic eruptions.
Ruby - Rubies are a variety of the mineral corundum and get their red color from traces of chromium. They are found in many parts of the world including Myanmar, Thailand, and Madagascar.
Sapphire - Sapphires are also a variety of corundum, but they come in a range of colors including blue, yellow, pink, and green. The blue color of sapphires is caused by the presence of iron and titanium.
Emerald - Emeralds are a type of beryl and get their green color from traces of chromium and vanadium. They are found primarily in Colombia, Zambia, and Brazil.
Amethyst - Amethyst is a type of quartz and is typically purple in color. The purple color comes from the presence of iron and other trace elements.
Garnet - Garnets are a group of minerals that come in a variety of colors including red, orange, yellow, green, and purple. They are found in many parts of the world and are often used in jewelry.
Topaz - Topaz is a silicate mineral that comes in a range of colors including yellow, brown, blue, and pink. The color of topaz can be altered through irradiation, which is often used to produce the popular blue topaz.
Turquoise - Turquoise is a hydrated phosphate mineral that is typically blue or green in color. It is found in many parts of the world and has been used for thousands of years for jewelry and other decorative purposes.
Opal - Opal is a hydrated silica mineral that is known for its iridescent play of colors. It is formed from the silica-rich solutions that fill cracks and voids in rocks.
Peridot - Peridot is a variety of the mineral olivine and is typically green in color. It is found in many parts of the world including Egypt, Myanmar, and the United States.
These are just a few examples of popular gemstones and their scientific facts. Each gemstone has its unique properties and geological origins.