BOISE -- Students got their hands dirty on a field trip to learn about some Idaho history Tuesday morning.

A group of first graders from Pierce Park Elementary participated in the archaeological excavation of the James Castle house on the corner of Castle Drive and Eugene Street in northwest Boise.

Castle was an Idaho artist born in Garden Valley in 1899. He and his family moved to the house in, what is now, the Pierce Park neighborhood in the 1930s.

Castle was born deaf and presumably never learned formal language

He'd create drawings, books and small sculptures. And what is unique, he worked with found materials and would mix his saliva with soot from the fireplace to create ink for his artwork.

The students worked alongside and learned from some University of Idaho archaelogists.

"The kids were invited to sift through some of the soil that we're pulling out of the shed. They found nails and pieces of nails and little pieces of metal and little pieces of wood. So they were very excited to play a part in their uncovering the history of James' time here," said Rachel Reichert, James Castle house project manager.

The City of Boise has been working to restore the artist's home to create an artist in residence program and exhibition space.

The project is expected to be complete by October 2017.