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 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
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!
- 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 !
- Start by placing one of each shell in the divided sections of your platter as a guide for your child.
- 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.
- Keep going!
- Talk about the shells as you play, we googled sea shells after we finished to look at even more variety of shells .
- Celebrate their efforts- if they sorted 4 shells or all !
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
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.
- 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.
- Start by having your child pour the sand in the tub.
- 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.
- Add the shells.
- Add the pebbles and sea toys.
- Play! 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.
Need a song to sing today ?
Little Fishy goes with this beach theme.
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!
We are on a mini vacation enjoying the beach and cooler weather so today I have a quick round up of all different beach activities we’ve done before. If you have one please feel free to leave a link in the comments for others to check out.