We live on an island and while we don’t get to walk on sandy beaches ( ours are more like barnacle beaches ) we do have lots of shells and the summer is often filled with discovering them along the shore. This math game taps into that experience while also working on memory and number recognition. Using math games to teach is a great way for parents to connect to what kids are learning and become participants not just observers. This math game was a snap to put together with shells from the craft store. I caution you to check all the shells in a package for sharp edges before letting your kids play with them, some of ours were broken and really sharp.
- Gather your materials. You will need some shells, a sharpie, a tray or something else that will keep the shells contained. I used a sheet of paper towel to keep the shells from sliding on the tray too.
- Write a pair of number names along with the numeral on shells. We did 1- 10 but you can do any combination of numbers using only the numeral or number written out.
- Let the marker dry for a few minutes before playing.
- Arranged the shells face down in random order.
- Play. One player flips a shell and leaves it face up, then flips another. If they match they leave them face up and the other player goes. If they do not match both shells are flipped back over and you start from scratch. You can also play one player like this. With discovery based math games like this you will probably notice that your child will naturally identify the numbers without prompting. If they don’t feel free to say “What did you find?” If they know number they will identify it if they don’t they will probably hold it out and say “This.” That’s when you step in and say ” Look you found 4 !” or something else easy breezy that still gives them the facts without making it feel like you are telling them something they should already know.
After we played a few rounds my daughter discovered that if she shook the tray gently that they shells made a really pretty tinkling sound.
Need some books to go along with this beach themed activity? Click here to see the reviews for the books below.
One of my very favorite things to do when I had some downtime is to go to the beach and search for sea glass. It’s such a calm and focused activity. My daughter really wants to help but doesn’t have the patience to search for very long. So when I was asked to check out the new Mod Podge Mod Melts for a sponsored post I knew just how I could create something for her while trying out this new product. This sea glass sensory tub was a huge hit. My daughter has (finally) moved past the mouthing stage and so these little shapes are fun and great for her fine motor development too . If your child is still putting things in their mouth try larger items like big seashells and try this out when they are ready.
- Gather your materials. You will need some play sand , a tray or container, Mod Podge Mod Melts and mold , a high temp glue gun, paint and a jar.
- Start by creating your “sea glass” the melts are easy to use . all you need to do is place the melt sticks in your glue gun like you would a glue stick. Fill the mold and wait. Our heart n=mold was small so I only waited about 5 minutes and them popped it out. Make many.
- Paint! We used acrylic paint in green and blue . I painted 1/3 blue, 1/3 green and left the rest plain. I am not sure how well my camera captured it but it really looks like sea glass! The paint dries quickly if you use a sponge to apply it.
- Pour your sand into the tray or container.
- Add your “sea glass” I hid some under the sand and put some above .
- Invite your beach comber to come and search. My daughter immediately dove in.
- Pop them into the jar .
- After you have found them all scatter them and count. Next she hid them all and repeated every step. This is a pretty intuitive activity I wasn’t having to hover or instruct. I think I showed her the jar without any clear instructions and the rest she figured out and explored with me clicking pictures and enjoying how intent she was.
- She even gave me a heart for my sea glass collection .
One of the best parts of creating with your child is the time you spend together. Parent and tot projects like this Beach Shell Picture Frame are a special time to not only work together on something but also to practice taking turns something that can never be done too much . Ironically I did this without my son, he was at summer camp all week hopefully practicing taking turns with other kids, and exhausted when he got home. I will be doing this with him when we get back from our beach getaway next week though!
- Gather your materials. You will need some cardboard ( 2x as large as you want the frame to be) , a large magnet , crayons, shells, hot glue gun and glue, scissors , tape and a picture.
- Start by cutting your cardboard in half, then cutting an opening in one piece for the frame.
- Tape your picture ( I trimmed mine) on the other half of the cardboard. Trim the cardboard so that it’s no larger than the frame piece , you don’t want it peeking out from underneath.
- Have your child decorate the frame with crayons.
- Heat up the glue gun. When I do crafts that require the glue gun but I want my son’s input of where to place things like these shells I will ask him before I add the glue where I should add it and what I should put on it. At the very least have them choose the shells to add.
- Glue the shells on.
- Glue the magnet on the back of the piece with the picture.
- Glue the two pieces together and let cool.
More Shell Activities
Going on vacation is wonderful–you escape from the everyday stresses of ringing phones and errand running. You can keep learning with your kids, though, even if you are on vacation. Kids love learning and most will see these activities as fun rather than work.
One of the simplest and easiest things you can do is collect sea shells.
Don’t just pick them up, though, observe them. Talk about different sizes and colors. You might try sorting them into different piles. I sorted these sea shells into piles based on their shape in front of Charlie. Then we guided him through counting the different piles. If your child can speak, have them count out loud with you–we counted out loud for Charlie since he’s non verbal.
Katy is a mom of one who loves art, mystery novels, and anything involving peanut butter–she blogs about raising her little miracle at Bird on the Street.
I spent my first 10 years on the west coast then moved back after university and settled here finally to start a family. I love the beach , not to sit and bake in the sun ( good thing there isn’t much around here) , but to find sea creatures. I have never really gotten over the excitement of tide pools, sea anemones, starfish , crabs and sea urchins. Even if you aren’t close to the coast you can make this sea urchin craft . This is not a craft for tiny guys, but with help a preschooler could do it without getting too frustrated.
- Gather your materials. You will need some styrofoam ( or salt dough would be awesome , just skip the tissue paper), tissue paper, tape, a marker , scissors and lots of toothpicks.
- Start by cutting your styrofoam into a circle.
- Wrap a square of tissue paper around it, and tape.
- Color the toothpicks with marker. This is tough – with older children see how many they can do at once . I held a bunch and rolled them in my fingers to paint all sides. With younger ones you could have them finger paint the toothpics, but this would add drying time too.
- Stick them in!
A Sea-Wishing Day by Robert Heidbreder is a wonderful tale of adventure, pirates, mermaids and treasure! The best part the little boy and his canine companion never really leave his backyard in the city , instead the adventure is all in their imagination. Anyone with a preschooler will appreciate this book, playing pretend is a huge part of most 3-5 year old’s playtime, and it should be. This book encourages, as well as celebrates that as this little boy discovers adventures on the high sea.
Swimmy is a serious tale about a little fish who tragically looses his family, and is forced to face scary things alone. He soon discovers that if he and other little fish band together they have power against the big bullies in the ocean. Personally I love this author and this book is one of my favorites. Some parents have expressed concern over his family being eaten at the start , so read it for yourself before deciding if it’s right for your child.
Ten Little Fish by Audrey and Bruce Wood was another cute find this week. The book is a rhyming countdown story about 10 little fish and what happens to them one by one. The illustrations look like an animated movie, and the rhymes are well thought out. My one wish is that the numbers were shown as digits not simply words, so that younger children who can recognize the numbers in digit form but not yet by reading the word could more easily follow along. The ending made me giggle, and you’ll have to grab the book to find out why !