Excavating letters could be a great activity for any member of the alphabet and would work for numbers as well. I started by making a batch of cloud dough since it molds nicely. The Imagination Tree has a couple of good recipes, of which I ended up making a hybrid that holds together pretty well when molded:
Glittery Cloud Dough
6 cups flour
1/2 cup baby oil
1/2 cup canola oil
as much glitter as you like
You can use just one type of oil, but I found that the mix is nice. The last time I made it, I only used baby oil and the smell of it was a little too much for me. The mix of the two oils gave it a nice balance, with neither one taking over.
I gathered a variety of Xs and some measuring cups to use as molds.
I filled each mold about half-full of pressed-down cloud dough, then inserted an X and filled it the rest of the way up.
I then inverted the molds onto a cookie sheet.
Once the tray was full of hidden Xs, Trip got to work excavating them.
He started out using his hands, but also enjoyed using a butter knife.
Once all of the Xs were found, he had fun playing with the dough.
We had to get the vacuum out once we were done to take care of a couple small spills, but it was well worth it for all the fun Trip had. Maybe next time we'll do this activity on the kitchen floor or outside.