Got a birthday party or eager classroom filled with budding geologist looking to have some fun and are ready to discover real rocks and minerals? Then look no further because we are going to show you how to make super cool and inexpensive gem mining bags.


Not ready to make your own gem mining bags? No problem at all and we have you covered! We offer an awesome assortment of Class Packs and Birthdays Digs. These excavation kits will excite and inspire, while also educating your students or birthday party guests.



Quart sized freezer bags

Brown paper lunch bags

Optional – Sharpie marker, paint, stickers.

Sand – You can purchase sand at your local hardware store

Aluminum pie pans

Plastic spoons

Assorted gemstones – small stones about the size of a pea work great for this excavation activity. Tumbled specimens are beautiful but are a little more expensive. You can also buy rough stone mixes. Just be sure to purchase enough so you can add plenty to each gem mining bag. You can also go on a nature walk and often find many beautiful rocks to add to the gem mining bags, or earn free rocks and mineral with our Digital Dig program!

One large bucket or bin to collect sand.


Excavating Adventures Pro Tip: You can add whatever you want to these gem mining bags. Seashells and fossils are great options. If you do not have access to gems, feel free to add little plastic toy dinosaurs. Young Excavating Adventurers will love discovering any treasure you choose to hide inside.


  1. Optional – Use the sharpie to label the brown paper bags with the student or birthday party guest name. When distributing the gem mining bags, having them labeled with a name will help reduce some chaos.
  2. Optional – Decorate the bags. There are many rocks and minerals sticker options that will add a nice little flare to the gem mining bags.
  3. Fill each freezer bag with about two cups of sand.
  4. Add a decent amount of gems to each bag of sand.
  5. Push any excess air from the bag and seal it securely.
  6. Slide the freezer bag into the brown paper bag.
  7. Once you are ready for the Excavating Adventurers to dig in, distribute one gem mining bag, pie pan, and plastic spoon to each participant.
  8. Instruct them to carefully scoop a spoonful or two of sand into the pie pan.
  9. Encourage them to use the tip of their finger to move the sand around and look for specimens.
  10. Have the bin setup in a central area for participants to dump the sand.
  11. Once the students have discovered all of the gemstones in their bags, they can use the plastic freezer bag to store the gems and transport them home.



Excavating Adventures Pro Tip: Gem mining bags make excellent and inexpensive rewards to acknowledge good classroom behavior or accomplishments. You can make a big batch of gem mining bags very inexpensively and students will be on their best behavior to try and win one!



Excavating Adventures Pro Tip: Decorate the brown paper bags with dinosaur stickers. Swap the gems with little plastic dinosaurs and maybe even some assorted real fossils to make awesome Fossil Gem Mining Bags.


Speaking of fossils, be sure to check our Dinosaur Dig excavation kit. This awesome excavation kit is filled with real fossils. You will discover amber, gastropods, ammonites, petrified wood, and even real dinosaur bones!


I hope you enjoyed making your own gem mining bags. This excavation activity is extremely versatile and inexpensive, makes great birthday party or classroom activities, and kids simply love digging in and discovering the treasures inside!