Shell Letters – Alphabet Activity

learning activity letter formationThe beach and playdough are two of our very favorite things. Put them together and you have the perfect tactile summer letter activity. My daughter has been able to recognize her letters for a long time as well as their sounds but forming those letters is still something we are working on often. This alphabet activity combines textures to make creating letters truly hands on.  As you will see after the initial activity she modified it for more play while I sat back and marveled at how quickly she went from a baby to a child… some days you just need to stare at them don’t you?

Gather your materials. You will need some shells, playdough, a cutting board or other playdough friendly surface, card stock, marker, some fun containers and a little letter engineer ready to explore.shell letters letter recognition for kids

I made little letter cards and since our shells were so rigid I only wrote out letters with straight lines like A, E, F, K, etc…beach shell letters

Start by setting things up. When I make an invitation to learn like this I usually have it set up so she knows what to do and then let her explore with out me interjecting. In a classroom I would have this set out on a table and allow the students to come and go ( or not come and go) as they pleased.shell letter cards

First she pressed the playdough down into a flat surface.shell playdough letters

Then she dove right in using the shells to create letters that matched the cards.making letters with shells and playdough

Some took more planning than others.thinking sabout how to do it shell letters

Then she changed things up and started using the shells to write in the playdough. writing with shellsAs the play shifts encourage the exploration. Activities like this are invitations and when they start exploring like this please don’t stop them. She was still learning and having fun even if she wasn’t still doing the planned activity. That is not a bad thing, roll with their discovery! shell letters explore

 

 

 Books About The Beach

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At-The-Beach-

At the Beach by Anne and Harlow Rockwell .A little girl visits the beach with her mom. She plays in the sand, hunts for shells, takes a swim before she settles in to a nice beach lunch. A visit to the beach can be a full day and this story gives the reader a great description of what to expect. This is great for young kids who haven’t been to the beach. It explains using a young girl’s point of view what you bring to beach and what you can expect to do once you’re there. The illustrations are muted and warm and fill the page and included our young red-haired beach girl enjoying herself in each one.

squirrel

Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach by Melanie Watt is hilarious, I actually snorted while reading it. I love books like this that have absurd humor thrown in with a great story. Before you even start flipping pages on the inside flap you will notice a blurb that ends with “This story is not suitable for pirates” it just makes me giggle! The story follows the most anxious squirrel you’ll ever encounter as he tries to make his own beach, only to end up at a busy one! What I love about this book are the details, the small asides will have you laughing and the main story will keep even young ones totally entertained. Super fun and a great message about overcoming fears as well.

what lives in a shell?

What Lives in a Shell? by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld is great book in my favorite science series the Let’s-Read-And-Find-Out . This book is a little long for toddlers but really great for preschoolers and easy to break into parts. The book starts talking about snails, then moves to turtles and finally sea shells. Like the others in the series this book break down facts to a preschoolers level without loosing any substance. If you are looking for a non fiction book for your little one, you must check out this series, they are hands down my favorite non fiction for young children.

Math Games { Shell Memory }

math games for kids shell memory gameWe 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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. math games with shells
  3. Let the marker dry for a few minutes before playing.
  4. Arranged the shells face down in random order.math games for kids shell game
  5. Play. math games for kids shell game for 3 year oldsOne 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. math games

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.

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Need some books to go along with this beach themed activity? Click here to see the reviews for the books below.

reading lists for kids

 

Shell Picture Frame

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!

  1. 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.
  2. Start by cutting your cardboard in half, then cutting an opening in one piece for the frame.
  3. 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.
  4. Have your child decorate the frame with crayons.
  5. 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.
  6. Glue the shells on.
  7. Glue the magnet on the back of the piece with the picture.
  8. Glue the two pieces together and let cool.

More Shell Activities

Shell Sorting

Beach Sensory Tub

Shell Sorting

When I buy something specifically for an activity and spend more than I want to for only one experience, I try to brainstorm other things to use the item for. That is where this idea came from . I bought these shells for the Beach Sensory Tub we made last week, but wanted to use them for something else as well. Sorting is more than just a time filler in preschools , it’s a math lesson about matching, shapes and counting. Using tongs adds in fine motor and hand eye coordination too. I knew my son would like this but he sorted every single one , dumped them back in and did it again! I got my money’s worth out of these shells!

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some sea shells, a divided platter ( ours is a chip and dip plate from the dollar store) , and some tongs or kiddie chopsticks ! Preschool Shell Sorting Activity
  2. Start by placing one of each shell in the divided sections of your platter as a guide for your child.Preschool Shell Sorting Activity
  3. Invite them to the table and have them use the tongs to pick up and sort the shells. If this is too frustrating, ditch the tongs and just use their hands.Preschool Shell Sorting Activity
  4. Keep going! Preschool Shell Sorting Activity
  5. Talk about the shells as you play, we googled sea shells after we finished to look at even more variety of shells .
  6. Celebrate their efforts- if they sorted 4 shells or all !Preschool Shell Sorting Activity

Beach Books

 

One White Wishing Stone by Doris K. Gayzagian is a beautiful book. Visually it reminds me of an impressionist painting, the soft beach colors used by illustrator Kristina Swarner are calming and pretty. This is more than just a counting book, there is a story of a little girl at the beach,what she finds and how she plans to use them when she takes them home. It’s so beautifully done that it almost makes me forget how much I hate finding sand in my car after a trip to the beach.
Beach Party! by Harriet Ziefert and Simms Taback reminds me of “Head to Toe” by Eric Carle , and that comparison is a compliment. This large board book is a fun and cute way to introduce toddlers to movement as well as animals you find or want to avoid at the beach. The reader is asked how they want to walk today then they see how each animal moves. This would be a fun read for a circle time where kids could get up and move!
The Seashore Book
by Charlotte Zolotow is a touching story of a little boy excited to go to the sea for the first time from his mountain home. The mother describes it so well that you will be aching for a trip too! I must admit though that my son and I barely paid attention to the words, we were both so moved by Wendell Minor’s paintings. We couldn’t help but ooh and awe every time we turned the page. My son’s favorite page was the one with the crab, of course!

Fishing Alphabet Game

I think I have made one of these fishing games for every class I have ever taught, my son loves it and it was a huge part of him learning his letters, all while playing!

Beach Sensory Tub

Beach Sensory Tub

My son adores sensory tubs and I love the challenge of finding new fun things to put a theme together. This time it’s all about sun and sand, well around here we have sand but the sun has been a little lacking. Still you don’t need it, you can imagine it with this fun tub. So even if you are landlocked in the middle of the continent enjoy scooping, pouring and finding shells with this great sensory activity.

  1. Gather your materials. I got everything I am using at a bog box store in a little town, so hopefully it’s not a challenge for anyone. Look in the home decor aisle for sand, and pebbles. A plastic dish tub,  2 different types of sand, 1 bag of shells, a beach rake and shovel, some plastic sea animals and large glass beads.Beach Sensory Tub
  2. Start by having your child pour the sand in the tub.Beach Sensory Tub Beach Sensory Tub
  3. Let them explore each step as they desire. My son would have been pleased as punch not to add anything more, and you will see when he starts playing he decided to take everything but the sand out.Beach Sensory Tub
  4. Add the shells.Beach Sensory Tub
  5. Add the pebbles and sea toys.Beach Sensory Tub
  6. Play!Beach Sensory Tub We hid things and he dug them up, then he decided this was a sand only beach and took much time and effort to get everything but the sand out. I even had to get him a sieve to use. Either way he had fun.Beach Sensory Tub

Song!

Need a song to sing today ?
Little Fishy goes with this beach theme.

Beach Books

Otto Goes to the Beach by Todd Parr was a steal of a deal at the Goodwill last week! I got a hardcover in perfect condition for 70 cents. My bargin hunting aside, I really enjoy this book as did my son. Otto is a dog who goes to the beach but no one wants to do the same things as he does, even the fish swim the other way! In the end after feeling very sad Otto finds a new friend and all his misery is forgotten. I love Todd Parr books, I love the insanely bright colors, the cute simplistic illustrations and I love the messages they send. This book followed his other books perfectly and provided a great final message about not giving up finding a friend who will like all the same things you do!

Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach by Melanie Watt is so funny. I love books like this that have absurd humor thrown in. Before you even read the story on the inside flap you will notice a blurb that ends with “This story is not suitable for pirates” it just makes me giggle! The story follows the most anxious squirrel you’ll ever encounter as he tries to make his own beach, only to end up at a busy one! What I love about this book are the details, the small asides will have you laughing and the main story will keep even young ones totally entertained. My son loved it especially the part about the pool being the ocean and the flashlight being the sun, even at two he was trying to tell the squirrel how wrong that was. Super fun and a great message about overcoming fears as well.What Lives in a Shell? by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld is another great book in the Let’s-Read-And-Find-Out Science series. This book is a little long for toddlers but really easy to break into parts. The book starts talking about snails, then moves to turtles and finally sea shells. I read it to my son in parts, and that was perfect for his 2 year old attention span. This book like the others in the series break down facts to a preschoolers level without loosing any substance. If you are looking for a non fiction book for your little one, you must check out this series, they are hands down my favorite non fiction for young children.