I Can Dig It

I Can Dig It

In this activity, kids will learn about archaeology and the methods used during excavations. They will also learn about the importance of using the scientific method. This activity requires access to an outdoor space.


Topic: STEM
Estimated Time: 45 minutes - 1 hour


Brought to you by Utah State University Extension

4-H youth on archaeology dig


  • Kiddie pool or sandbox
  • Sand/dirt/soil (at least two different times and colors)
  • Older artifacts/items (e.g. old pictures, pottery)
  • Modern artifacts/items (e.g. bottle caps, coins)
  • Stakes or sticks
  • String or rope
  • Plastic bag
  • Pencil
  • Downloadable grid map
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Activity Steps

  1. Create a dig pit using a sandbox or a kiddie pool filled with sand and dirt. Create the first layer by laying down the first type of soil/sand. The dig may be more fun if you add hills and valleys to the first layer.
  2. Add older artifacts to the first layer.
  3. Add the second layer and add modern artifacts. You can also add charcoal to simulate a fire pit.
  4. Cover this with another layer of soil or compost, and then add leaves and sticks on top.
  5. Use stakes and string (or rope) to create a grid on the dig site. Put a stake in one of the corners of your site to be the site datum, the point from which all else is measured.
4-H kid explores archaeology at Virtual 4-H Camp
  1. Make sure your grid is evenly spaced and label units on the downloadable grid map that accompanies this activity.
  2. The kids should carefully brush or trowel the top layers. Every time they find a change of soil color, texture or grain size, they should record it.
  3. Using a skimmer/strainer and shovel, the kids can sift through the soil one square at a time.
  4. The kids should catalog everything they find using the grid. They should take notes on their findings in a notebook or a separate sheet of paper.
  5. The kids should collect and place all artifacts in a plastic bag.

Reflection Questions
Questions for your kids and teens.


  • What can studying ancient artifacts tell us about the past?
  • Why is it important to work carefully and slowly, instead of digging everything up at once?
  • How did using the grid help you stay organized during the dig?
  • What did you notice about the placement of the artifacts in the soil?


  • If you were an archaeologist, what do you think the biggest challenge would be?
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