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.


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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


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  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! 


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!