Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Panning for Gold - It's a Western Cowboy Party

The gold rush was an important time in history and every cowboy was looking for his little piece of the pie.  Your little cowboys will love sifting for gold and coins in this western themed activity.

Materials Needed:

  • Aluminum Pie Plates
  • Small shovels
  • Plastic gold coins
  • Small rocks (floral rocks work perfectly)
  • Drawstring or Ziploc sandwich bags
  • Sand
  • Sandbox or large bucket to hold sand (i.e. Rubbermaid container)

Prior to the party:
Cut small holes in each of the pie plates.  These holes should be big enough to let sand fall through but small enough to keep the plastic coins and rocks in the pie plate.


  1. Each cowboy is provided an aluminum pie plate(gold tray) and a shovel.
  2. Cowboys dig in the sand and put a shovelful of sand into their gold tray.
  3. The cowboys sift the sand over the sandbox in their gold tray to separate the sand from the treasure.
  4. Small rocks are put back into the sand and coins are stashed in each child's drawstring bag.


  • You don't want to hide chocolate coins in the sand because there is risk of them being contaminated but why not let your cowboys trade in their gold coins for a bag of chocolate coins at the local saloon?  If you pre-bag the chocolate coins each child will receive the same amount.
  • Want to take it a step further?  Let the kids 'shop' in the local saloon with their gold coins.  Purchase a few items from the dollar store, i.e. pencils, erasers, play dough, etc. and set them up with price tags as if it was the local mercantile.  Kids can 'purchase' loot bag items with their gold stash!  This is great if you have some older children at the party.

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