This is a fun spin on the tried and true awesomeness of writing to a pen pal. But we aren’t just going to send our pen pal a letter, we're going to send them a custom excavation kit we made just for them to get in the mail, dig in, and enjoy.


Excavating Adventures Pro Tip: There are many online websites and resources to connect pen pals. Be sure to do a little research and make sure you are using a reputable source. You can also ask friends and family for pen pal recommendations.



Empty Altoids tin

Sand – You can even use colored sand!

Plaster of Paris

Measuring cup

Mixing bowl

Wooden spoon


Excavation items – You will want to choose something that you think your pen pal will enjoy finding in the excavation. Pretty rocks, gems, crystals, fossils, shells, special coins, plastic toys or trinkets, and even inexpensive jewelry are all great ideas of things to add to your pen pal excavation.

Optional – Glitter, paint, paintbrush, stickers, sequins, and other ways to decorate the tin.

Popsicle or wooden dowel that you will send with the excavation as a dig tool.

Bubble wrap

Padded envelope


Not ready to make your own excavation, but still want to send one to a pen pal or friend? Check out our awesome selection of excavation kits for sale!



  1. This step is optional, but you may want to paint and decorate the Altoids tin. You can even decorate the tin with stickers.
  2. Place your excavation items in the tin.
  3. Mix a 1/2 cup of plaster with 1 ½ cups of sand.
  4. Add ½ cup of water and mix thoroughly.
  5. Pour the mixture over the excavation items and fill the tin nearly to the rim. Leave about a ¼ inch of space between the rim on the tin and the mixture.
  6. Place the excavation in front of a fan for at least 24 hours until it is completely dry.
  7. While you are waiting for your excavation to dry, write your pen pal a nice letter. Be sure to explain the excavation and instruct them to use the popsicle stick as a dig tool. Be sure to let them know they must wear safety glasses while digging to avoid getting dust and debris in their eyes.
  8. Once your pen pal excavation is dry, close the lid and wrap the tin with bubble wrap.
  9. Put the address on the envelope.
  10. Place the tin, excavation tool, and letter in the envelope.
  11. Take the pen pal excavation to the post office and purchase postage. This is to ensure the correct amount of postage has been purchased so that the letter reaches its destination. The postage should be less than five dollars if you are shipping from a US address to another US address.
  12. Mail your pen pal excavation and wait to see if your recipient responds.



Rock Hunters: Fun Facts about Why Collecting Rocks is Educational!


Fun Facts about Why Collecting Rocks is Educational:


  1. Rocks are like time capsules that hold clues about Earth's history. By collecting rocks, kids can learn about different geological processes and the changes our planet has undergone over millions of years.

  2. Rock collecting encourages observation and exploration skills. Kids can examine rocks closely, noting their colors, textures, and patterns, which helps develop their powers of observation and attention to detail.

  3. Collecting rocks fosters curiosity and a love for science. Kids can ask questions like "How was this rock formed?" or "What makes this rock unique?" This curiosity can lead them to explore scientific concepts and engage in further research.

  4. Rocks provide hands-on learning opportunities. Kids can conduct simple experiments to test the properties of rocks, such as hardness, magnetism, or reaction to acids, which helps them understand scientific concepts in a tangible way.

  5. Rock collecting promotes outdoor exploration and appreciation for nature. Kids can venture outdoors to find rocks, developing an understanding and connection to the natural world around them.

  6. Identifying rocks builds knowledge about minerals and geology. Kids can learn to recognize different types of rocks and minerals, expanding their understanding of the Earth's composition and the processes that shape it.

  7. Collecting rocks encourages critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Kids may encounter challenges when trying to identify rocks or determine their origin, and solving these puzzles enhances their problem-solving abilities.

  8. Rock collecting sparks creativity. Kids can use their collected rocks for various artistic projects, such as painting, rock stacking, or creating rock gardens, fostering their creativity and imagination.

  9. Exchanging rocks with pen pals in dig kits promotes cultural exchange and connection. Kids can learn about different rocks from various regions and share their own unique rocks, fostering a sense of global connection and friendship.

  10. Rock collecting teaches organization and categorization skills. Kids can sort and classify rocks based on their characteristics, helping them develop organizational and categorization skills.

By including rocks in dig kits sent to pen pals, kids can share their passion for rocks, learn about rocks from different regions, and engage in a meaningful educational exchange.



Question 1: Why is collecting rocks educational? A) Rocks can be used for artistic projects B) Rocks help develop observation skills C) Rocks provide hands-on learning opportunities D) All of the above

Correct answer: D) All of the above

Question 2: What can kids learn by collecting rocks? A) Scientific concepts and processes B) Earth's history and changes C) Problem-solving and critical thinking skills D) All of the above

Correct answer: D) All of the above

Question 3: What can rock collecting promote? A) Outdoor exploration and appreciation for nature B) Cultural exchange and connection with pen pals C) Organization and categorization skills D) All of the above

Correct answer: D) All of the above