Inside: Panning for Gold Kid’s Activity
The California Gold Rush is one of those defining moments in American history. It brought thousands of gold prospectors, called 49ers, from all around the world to California.
Knowing the gold was there and finding the gold are two different things. Many prospectors did something called panning for gold. They would dip pans into a river and swirl it around. They did this because gold is nineteen times heavier than water so eventually gold would settle into the bottom of the pan as the dirt and gravel were washed away.
We’ve created a fun panning for gold activity so kids can practice being a gold prospector in 1849 California.
How to Make a Panning for Gold Kid’s Activity
- Pea Gravel (or any small gathered rocks)
- Disposable Aluminum Pie Tins
- Metallic Gold Craft Paint
- Flat Paintbrush
- Paper Plates
- Play Sand: Option 1 or Option 2
- Large Plastic Storage Bin (28 qt or 58 qt.)
- (Optional) Metallic Gold Spray Paint
- Prepare the “gold nuggets” by laying out some of the pea gravel onto paper plates.
- Squirt a small amount of gold paint onto the paper plate.
- Using a flat paintbrush, paint all of the pea gravel with the gold paint. Let dry and paint the opposite side. Place finished “nuggets” on a new paper plate and allow to dry overnight.
- For mining: Add “gold nuggets,” remaining pea gravel, and sand to plastic storage bin. Blend well.
- Add water to the storage bin. Be sure there is enough water to cover several inches of the “dirt.”
- Dip the pie tins into the plastic bin and fill your pan with “dirt and gravel.” Gently swirl in a circular motion.
- Pull out any “gold nuggets” you find and store them in a safe place.
Optional: A simplified method is to spray paint the pea gravel. Add the pea gravel to a small cardboard box and spray paint, shifting them around the box until all are painted. See recommended paint in Supplies.
A simple solution…
Another option would be to purchase a panning for gold kit. See options below:
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Did you know…
This project is included in our By the Great Horn Spoon Guide.
It’s also the perfect companion project to accompany these books:
Gold! Gold from the American River!: January 24, 1848: The Day the Gold Rush Began: When James Marshall found a small, soft, shiny stone in a California stream, he knew it could only be one thing: gold! His cry of discovery would be heard around the world.More info →