Fun intro to earth science
Contains genuine fossils
Can get messy
Some tiny fossils are easy to miss
We purchased the National Geographic Mega Fossil Mine Dig Kit so our writer could put it to the test. Keep reading for our full product review.
I’m always trying to find new ways to introduce scientific concepts to my 8-year-old child. She is a hands-on learner, which is why I was excited to have her try out the National Geographic Fossil Mine Dig Kit. This kit is packed with genuine fossils just waiting to be unearthed, so we spent the afternoon searching for dinosaur bones and fossilized shark teeth in the dirt. Read on to find out if the Nat Geo Mega Fossil Mine Dig Kit kept her attention and if she could find and identify the fossils.
Packaging: Status quo
There was nothing unique about the outer packaging of this kit. It was a cardboard box with images of fossils on it. It had the familiar National Geographic branding from the popular magazine and cable channel.
A rectangular block of gypsum and dirt, representing the dig site was included in the box. The kit came with the tools needed to excavate the treasures: a chisel, a brush, a magnifying glass, and a 16-page guide with images and information on identifying the specimens.
Design: Age-appropriate, messy, and fun
This toy's premise is to give kids a taste of what it’s like to be a paleontologist by having them dig in the dirt for fossils. Each kit contains 15 genuine fossils, which my daughter was able to excavate without my help.
It took about an hour for her to find all of the fossils. Each time one was unearthed, she’d brush away the dirt and debris and then set it aside to find the next one. The specimens in this kit range in size—some were thimble-small while others were palm-sized. It was easy to overlook a few of the hidden gems. We had to go back through the remnants of the brick to find the last three, which were hidden under a few large pieces of gypsum that had broken off from the brick.
After all of the fossils were excavated, we cleaned them with water and examined them with a magnifying glass. It was easy for her to identify the fossils using the learning guide.
She identified ammonites, gastropods, Mosasaur teeth, and even a piece of dinosaur bone. The fossil she was most fascinated with, though, was the coprolite, which—as the guide states—is “fossilized animal poop.” My child dissolved into giggles once she realized she’d found fossilized animal scat. She couldn’t wait to show it to her sisters.
The only downside to this kit is that it is messy—extremely. This is not an indoor toy. The brick produced a ton of dust. It got all over the couch, the floor, the table, and my child, so do this activity outside if you can. I thought it was too chilly for us to do this dig kit outside, but it would have been smarter if we put on our coats in hindsight. If you get this kit in the dead of winter or the winter holiday season, your child can still enjoy it, but be prepared for a mess. Get a drop cloth to cover the immediate area or use a workroom. Goggles and a facemask, which are not included, are optional barriers to protect against dust that you could consider.
Learning Value: An undercover science lesson
This kit is a great way to introduce earth science to children in an age-appropriate way. My child learned a ton from it, including what it's like to dig for fossils in the field, what fossils are, and how they are formed. The best part, my child didn't think this was like a school lesson; she just thought it was fun to dig in the dirt and read about ancient animal scat.
My child dissolved into giggles once she realized she’d found fossilized animal scat. She couldn’t wait to show it to her sisters.
Entertainment Value: Interesting from start to finish
The digging, fossils, and animal scat made this kit entertaining. My child dug in the brick until the very last fossil was unearthed. I was impressed with how well the kit held her attention. I figured she’d like it because it was messy, and she stuck with it to the end.
Age Range: 8 and up
This kit retails for about $30 but is regularly on sale for closer to $20. Considering that this kit contains 15 fossils, it seems like a steal either way.
Competition: Similar kits available
Large Dinosaur Excavation Kit by NW Kids: There are other dig kits on the market, including the $16 Large Dinosaur Excavation Kit by NW Kids. This kit is similar to the Nat Geo kit in its general premise, but the bones that are excavated aren’t real and are made of plastic. It’s a cool way to teach kids about paleontology, but the Nat Geo kit contains a real dinosaur bone as one of the fossils worth the extra $5.
National Geographic Mega Dinosaur Dig: Nat Geo offers other Mega Dig kits, too, including the Mega Dinosaur Fossil Dig. That premise is similar to the Mega Fossil Mine Dig Kit, and it contains three real dinosaur bones and two plastic model dinosaurs. The Dinosaur Fossil Dig kit retails for about $34.
Yes, worth the purchase.
National Geographic's Mega Fossil Mine Dig Kit is unique, interactive, and messy, and our child loved it. The dig got a bit dusty, but this kit was chock full of fossils and worth the extra clean-up time.
- Product Name Mega Fossil Mine Dig Kit
- Product Brand National Geographic
- Price $19.99
- Weight 1.61 lbs.
- Product Dimensions 10 x 2 x 7.2 in.
- Recommended Age Range Age 8 and up
- What's Included Dig site, 15 fossils, chisel, brush, magnifying glass, and a 16-page learning guide