We took the kids shelling in Florida and came home with way too many shells. Fortunately, these shells inspired a lot of creativity, nature play, and fun activities. Here are 7 seashell activities for young kids and toddlers.
1. Identifying Shells
We picked up a shell identification chart, and our older daughter loved matching the different shells and sorting them by type. Our younger child sorted by size and type.
2. Mermaid Shells
We painted and glued small gemstones on some of the sea shells. The girls loved the freedom to decorate their shells, which inspired a lot of fun mermaid pretend play. Later in the week, we turned our mermaid shells into necklaces with salt dough (see #6).
3. Sensory Bin Play
We added sea shells to our weekly sensory bins. The shells were great with water play, kinetic sand, and play dough.
4. Seashell Shape Art
Originally, I intended to use craft glue to create canvases of seashells arranged as hearts, turtles, or mermaids. My kids tolerated getting the shells into a heart shape as part of a Valentine’s Day activity, but quickly lost interest. Maybe this activity will work better when they’re older.
5. Seashell Hide-and-Seek
Hide-and-seek is my toddler’s favorite game right now, so I try to incorporate it into other play activities. We hid a play ring under one of the shells and someone had to guess which shell the ring was under. I did this with the girls over lunch, and it was a fun way to liven up peanut butter and jelly time!
6. Salt Dough Creations: Necklaces, Sea Creatures, Christmas Ornaments
Creating different things out of seashells, salt dough, paint, goggly eyes, and necklace cord marked our favorite family activity. We made our salt dough green by adding green tempura paint.
Messy Little Monster has a wonderful, color salt dough recipe (see it here). We added some green paint and made sea turtles, hermit crabs, necklaces, and more. Salt dough is easy to make, and the kids really loved seeing how our creations solidified in the oven. This is a great rainy, day activity!
One note that I’d like to make is simply to make a large, clearly defined hole for necklaces and ornaments. I hurriedly poked holes with a toothpick, and only some of them were large enough and clear enough to slide the necklace cord through.
7. Seashell Painting
Painting seashells was my toddler’s favorite activity. The best thing is that we used washable paint. So she spent several mornings painting, washing and re-painting seashells.
My older daughter took shell painting a bit more seriously. She was inspired by this really cool YouTube video by Moriah Elizabeth (check it out here). Our shells did not turn out as nice as Moriah’s, but it was fun trying to imitate some of her creations! I love when my kids are inspired to try something new, like a Moriah’s painting techniques.
Interested in more beach-themed activities? Check out my printable mermaid activities. I have free printable play dough mats and lacing cards as well as a printable busy book that’s great for traveling. The busy book is available in my Etsy shop, and all sales help keep this website going. So, if you’d like to support Kindred Inspiration, check out some of my printable kids activities on Etsy.
What are your favorite seashell activities with kids? From collecting the shells to painting, washing, identifying, and creating artwork, we had a lot of fun with them over the past few weeks. Post your favorite seashell activities for kids below.