In this quick and inexpensive tutorial, we are going to show you how to make Tart Tin Excavations. Tart tins are basically tiny little pie pans, but they make perfect containers for excavations. You can put pretty much anything that will fit in these fun little tins, but for this tutorial we are going to use small plastic dinosaurs. These excavations are super easy to make and are a great teaching resource to include in your next lesson or discussion about dinosaurs, fossils, paleontology, and more.


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Plaster of Paris


Mixing Bowl

Wooden spoon

Measuring cups

Tray or baking sheet - This will make moving the batch of Tart Tin Excavations easier. 

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.

Tart tins - You can easily find a pack online for not very much money at all. 

Assorted small plastic dinosaurs - Be sure to check and make sure they will fir in your tart tins. 


Excavating Adventures Pro Tip: You can often find bags of assorted plastic dinosaurs at your local dollar store for around a buck. Keep your eyes peeled in the toy aisles of these awesome stores. You can sometimes find bags of other assorted plastic characters such as barnyard animals, ocean life creatures, and woodland animals. Grab them up and use them in your next batch of Tart Tin Excavations.


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  1. Arrange the tart tins on a tray or baking sheet and place a dinosaur in each tart tin. Feel free to add more than one dinosaur to each tart tin if you have room.
  2. Mix 1 cups sand with 1/3 cup Plaster of Paris.
  3. Add 1/3 cup of water and mix until you have a pancake batter consistency.
  4. Pour the mixture over the dinosaurs.
  5. Place the Tart Tin Excavations in front of a fan overnight until they are completely dry.
  6. Distribute the excavations, excavation tools, and safety goggles to your Excavating Adventurer and have fun watching them dig in and discover the awesome ITEM you have hidden inside.

Excavating Adventures Pro Tip: These excavation make a great activity for your next classroom lesson about dinosaurs, are super easy to make, and do not cost much at all. We also offer several different Class Pack options that students love!


Take some time to explore the Excavating Adventures website. 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!