In this quick and inexpensive tutorial, we are going to show you how to make a Zookeeper Discovery Dig. These excavations are super easy to make and are a great teaching resource to include in your next lesson or discussion about animals, zoology, biology, and more.


If you love excavating, why not get a dig kit for free? Answer trivia and earn points you can redeem for free rocks, minerals, fossils, seashells, excavation kits and more!





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.

Store bought cake container with base and lid - I have held onto one of these since my son's birthday and it will work great for this Zookeeper Discovery Dig. No worries if you do not have one of these available as you can use any container that will hold all of your zoo animals. 

Optional - glue gun, glue sticks, and adult supervision

Assorted plastic zoo animals


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




  1. Place some of the zoo animals in the lid (cover) of the cake container. 
  2. Mix 3 cups sand with 1 cup Plaster of Paris.
  3. Add 1 cup of water and mix until you have a pancake batter consistency.
  4. Pour the mixture over the zoo animals and allow to set for about five minutes. This will allow the mixture to firm up a little. This is important because the plastic zoo animals will want to float. Once the mixture sets a little, simply push the animals back into the mixture until they stay put.
  5. Repeat these steps until the container is full. 
  6. Place the Zookeeper Discovery Dig in front of a fan overnight until it is completely dry.
  7. Distribute the excavation, excavation tools, and safety goggles to your Excavating Adventurer and have fun watching them dig in and discover the awesome zoo items you have hidden inside.

Excavating Adventures Pro Tip: While this is optional, this next idea is super cool. Once the zoo animals have been excavated, have your Excavating Adventurer clean them up and arrange them on the base of the cake container. Use the glue gun to secure the zoo animals in place. You can then put the cover back on the cake container and you have a really cool zoo animal diorama! 


Fossil Detectives: Uncovering Clues to Evolution through Animal Fossils in Different Soil Layers!

Fun Facts about Finding Animal Fossils in Different Soil Layers:

  1. Fossils are the preserved remains or traces of ancient plants and animals, and they can provide valuable insights into the history of life on Earth.

  2. By studying animal fossils found in different layers of soil, scientists have been able to piece together the story of how different species have evolved over millions of years.

  3. The concept of finding animal fossils in different layers of soil is based on the principle of superposition, which states that older rock layers are found deeper, while younger layers are closer to the surface.

  4. Fossils found in deeper layers of soil are generally older than those found in shallower layers, allowing scientists to create a timeline of the Earth's history and the evolution of species.

  5. Through the study of animal fossils, scientists have been able to identify transitional species, which provide evidence of how one species gradually evolved into another over time.

  6. Fossils of early marine animals, such as trilobites and ammonites, have helped scientists understand the ancient oceans and the progression of life forms.

  7. The discovery of dinosaur fossils in different layers of soil has provided evidence of their existence and eventual extinction, leading to a better understanding of these remarkable creatures.

  8. The study of animal fossils has also revealed the existence of extinct species, such as mammoths and saber-toothed tigers, which once roamed the Earth but no longer exist today.

  9. By comparing the fossilized remains of ancient animals with the anatomy of modern-day species, scientists can uncover similarities and differences, shedding light on evolutionary relationships.

  10. Fossils found in different layers of soil can provide clues about the Earth's changing environments, including climate conditions, the presence of ancient oceans or lakes, and the existence of ancient ecosystems.

  11. Paleontologists, scientists who study fossils, use various techniques to excavate and preserve animal fossils, ensuring that these incredible remnants of the past are protected and studied for future generations.

  12. The study of animal fossils in different soil layers continues to expand our knowledge of the history of life on Earth and helps us appreciate the incredible diversity of species that have evolved over millions of years.

Remember, animal fossils are like time capsules that reveal fascinating stories about the ancient inhabitants of our planet, unlocking the mysteries of evolution!



Take some time to explore the Excavating Adventures store. 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: What principle states that older rock layers are found deeper, while younger layers are closer to the surface? A) Superposition principle B) Fossilization principle C) Evolutionary principle D) Sedimentary principle

Correct answer: A) Superposition principle

Question 2: What type of fossils have helped scientists understand the ancient oceans and the progression of life forms? A) Dinosaur fossils B) Mammal fossils C) Marine animal fossils D) Bird fossils

Correct answer: C) Marine animal fossils

Question 3: What do scientists study to uncover similarities and differences and understand evolutionary relationships? A) Fossil layers B) Soil types C) Animal fossils D) Rock formations

Correct answer: C) Animal fossils