I was able to open the packaging by removing one piece of tape keeping the box closed. The contents pulled out easily and was packaged all together. The actual Gemstone dig is a brick approximately 6inches by 6inches and it is packaged with the tools needed for excavation. Included in the packaging is a magnifying glass, brush and small shoveling tool for excavating the gemstones. The instructions are pretty clear that this can get messy and recommend preparing an area or using it outside. Also included is a booklet that teaches about many different types of gemstones.
The play experience with the National Geographic Mega Gemstone Mine is actually very simple and yet, very fun. It is time consuming so be prepared to work on this for a while. You can soften the brick slightly with a little water but it is actually fun to work at it little by little in search for the gemstones. It is really important that when you are excavating you are careful to fully excavate your gemstone rather than get impatient and try to pry it from the brick. If you pry it, you risk damaging or breaking your gemstone so make sure you full excavate and then soak the gemstone in water for 5 minutes or so to remove any extra dirt.
I actually really like how this isn’t so easy that it is over in one play or a short period of time. The pack was very inexpensive and I could definitely see it lasting several play times due to the time consuming nature of excavating the gemstones.
I wish the excavating tools had been of a little higher quality. They were of a plastic material and the brick itself is rather dense and hard so a metal tool would have been a lot more helpful.
National Geographic is recommending this activity for players 6 and older. I would agree with this and recommend that this be given to a child who is able to stick with the process and keep there attention on it for a while. It is a little time consuming so it won’t be fun for children who have a hard time focusing on a project for longer periods of time.
I was rather impressed with the National Geographic Mega Gemstone Mine. I was impressed by how educational it ended up being and how much fun it was to look for and fully excavate the gemstones. This would make a great homeschooling or after school project. And the best part is kids will have a collection of gemstones that they can tell their friends they excavated themselves.
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