Shoebox Dig

What You Need:
  • 2 shoeboxes
  • Soil
  • Artifacts (see Scientific Explanation below)
  • Plastic wrap
  • Old spoons, paint brushes, toothbrushes
  • String or thread
  • Tape
  • Ruler
  • Paper and pencil
  • An archeology ally
Tip: The artifacts will be buried in soil so if you don't want them damaged wrap them in plastic wrap.

Question: How do we learn about past cultures?

1. Each partner prepares a shoebox full of artifacts. Then you will both conduct a dig.

2. After you have choose several artifacts arrange them in the box. Bury the artifacts at different levels in the soil. Then trade dig boxes with your partner.

3. First, prepare the dig site. Use the string and tape to create a grid over the box. The grid will help you make a map of the site. Space the string about 2 inches apart. You need to be able to see and dig through the grid.

4. Now, use the ruler to draw the same size grid on a piece of paper. Label the left side with numbers and label the top with letters.

5. Use the spoon and brushes to gently and carefully dig through the shoebox.

6. Draw on your map the location of any artifacts you find. Use the ruler to measure and record the depth of the artifacts.

7. Write down any other observations you have about the object and where it was located.

8. Now, imagine what the person was like who left these artifacts behind.

9. Afterwards, share your hypothesis with your colleague. That's archeologist-speak for "explain to your friend what you think you found!"

A Scientific Explanation
Archeologists study past cultures by discovering and examining their objects, or artifacts. When you choose artifacts for the dig box use objects that convey a story. Include objects that give clues about the person who used or made the artifact. You can bury artifacts such as coins, stamps, small tools, jewelry, or toys in the dig box.

Research your neighborhood and find out who lived there in the past. Were they farmers, manufactures, or fishermen? What kind of artifacts would you expect to find from this past culture?


  • Pullys Please!
  • Honey-Comb Bones
  • Follow the Flickering Firefly
  • Take an Ant to Lunch
  • Fossil Fun!
  • Suspend Metal in Mid-Air!
  • Clickety Clack: The Transfer of Force
  • Make Rain Indoors!
  • Eruptions of Color!
  • Wacky Water
  • Tiny Tornados
  • Fantastic Fingerprints
  • Mirror,Mirror on the Wall
  • Bubble Fun
  • Meteorite Beach
  • Rock Shard Puzzle
  • Tweet Tweet Tweet! Bird Sounds
  • Sound and Vision!
  • Super Science in Your Own Backyard
  • Grow Your Own Crystal Candy
  • Ant Antics
  • Make Carbon Dioxide
  • Battle Beetles!
  • Seashells by the Seashore
  • Race the Moon
  • Capillaries in Action
  • Shoebox Dig
  • Backyard Dinosaurs
  • The Incredible Egg
  • Icebox Erosion
  • Make a Rainbow
  • Aqua Vision

Back to Games & Activities