Simple Outdoor Adventures for Boys {Day 29}: Pan for Gold

Day 29 Pan for Gold Simple Outdoor Adventures for Boys

How to Pan for Gold…


  • Gold Pan (We got this one from Amazon for under $5)
  • Running Water (Creak, Stream, River)
  • Old Shoes

how to pan for gold in a creek with boys  

What could there be that would intrigue a little boys heart more than treasure? This adventure has nothing to do with actually finding real gold, although that is not impossible, it’s more about sparking the imagination.

First, find a place on a sand or gravel bar where you can kneel down right next to some water, preferably water that is moving. Panning for gold is really a lesson in science about the density of solid materials we find in the soils of nature. After you fill the pan 3/4 full of "pay dirt", submerge the pan into the water and shake vigorously.

Right from the start you will see the light-weight soils floating right out of the pan and down the stream. The idea is to continue to keep the soils and gravel moving until all of the light weight material floats out of the pan. Then when you are down to the heavier rocks and soil, pick the large stones out of the mix and tip the pan slightly as you shake it allowing the small rocks and sand to escape over the top edge of the pan. As long as you are not sloshing large amounts of materials out of the pan, any gold sand or flakes should remain in the bottom corner of the pan while you slowly remove the rest of the soil.

How likely is it that you would actually find gold in this process? That all depends on your location. There are many places in the Appalachian Mountains, out west, and up north that are famous for their gold deposits. However, most people don’t realize that many northern states like Indiana have some fine grain gold deposits which many speculate were carried down from Canada by glaciers. Regardless, fine gold sand is found in our soils here.

 how to pan for gold with kids

  Helpful Tips/Resources:

* If you want to make it fun for your kids, pennies are also very heavy compared to any solids you will find in your local creek. Hide a few coins in the dirt in the pan and they will be amazed and excited when you finally wash all the soil away and there are coins in the bottom of the pan!

Have you ever hunted for treasure or panned for gold? 

One thought on "Simple Outdoor Adventures for Boys {Day 29}: Pan for Gold"

  1. Crystal says:

    Down in Cottage Grove, there’s a Bohemian Gold Mining Festival every August to celebrate the gold miners who celebrated there. But I’ve never done it in a real creek before — we’ll have to give it a shot!

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