Seashells are nature’s treasures, and they’re so much fun to use in crafts and projects. Today, Lea Reynolds, Florida mom of two, is here sharing three fun and easy seashell crafts for kids. Not only will hunting for seashells get your kids outside and on the beach for hours, but the colorful shells will help inspire their creativity and make beautiful natural additions to your home decor and gifts. 

Seashell crafts for kids

Florida is known for its warm and sunny weather, but did you know that it also experiences mild winters? While the temperatures may not reach the freezing point, the cooler weather and shorter days provide a perfect opportunity to enjoy making crafts. One of our favorite things to do is combine our love of the beach, with crafting.

Crafting with seashells is an activity that not only gets us outside, but lets us be creative, as well. Here in Florida, shells are abundant on the beaches, so there’s no shortage of supplies. Today, I’m going to walk you through my best tips for finding great seashells and guide you through the process of making simple and fun seashell crafts with your kids. 

Shelling with kids

First things first, you need to set off and find as many seashells as you can! Whether you have easy access to a beach all the time, or you’re visiting the beach on vacation, shelling is an engaging experience for parents and kids of all ages. It’s a free and fun way to spend a few hours outside! My kids love finding different shapes, sizes and colors of seashells. When the water is too cold to swim in, and the sky is cloudy, you can always spend your time at the beach seashell hunting! Grab a bucket or a sustainable ocean-friendly bag, your trusty bait net, and let’s hunt!

Tips for finding and collecting seashells

Finding seashells is often a matter of being on the beach at the right time. The best time, in general, is about an hour before or after low tide. High tide will bring those beautiful shells inland. As the tide recedes, you’ll be able to see the treasures the tide left behind. And if the tides are low early in the morning, this is even better! This is great for families, as little kids are often up early, and it’s a great excuse to get out of the house right away! We like to have breakfast on the beach in the morning, before the crowds arrive and we have the place to ourselves.

Shelling is especially good after strong winds or storms. Low spring tides during full moon or new moon periods can also bring in great shells. Here in Florida, any strong tides or Gulf storms can also bring plentiful shells to the Gulf area beaches. Most of the time, the best sea shells are found in or below the wrack line (where the debris can be found from the high tide the night before). If you venture up too high, you may find older sun-bleached shells (which can be beautiful). But, the bright colorful newer shells that just washed up the night before will be down closer to the waterline. 

best seashell crafts for kid - kids craft

Know the regulations

Be sure to check local laws and regulations to know the rules in your area regarding sea shell collecting. Some beaches allow shelling, and some don’t. If your child finds a shell that still has an animal living inside — gastropod, bivalve, or otherwise — tell them to leave it alone. In many places, including Florida, it is illegal to take a live creature from its natural habitat. If keeping empty shells is allowed, be sure to check to make sure they’re empty. Also, never take live sand dollars from the beach.

Cleaning and storing seashells

Once your child has found enough shells for your projects and crafts, you’ll want to properly clean them to bring out their full natural beauty. First, soak the seashells in plain warm water to remove any dirt, debris, and smell. Change out the water daily for a few hours or up to a week to fully clean your shells. You can use an old toothbrush to remove grit from the ridges and cracks if necessary.

We do not recommend using bleach. Bleach will ruin the color and vibrancy of your shell, and the shells will have a bleach/chlorine smell.

After your shells have soaked, you’ll need to thoroughly dry them. If your shells have particularly rough edges, you can smooth them down with sandpaper. And if you really want to bring out the color and brilliance of your shells, rub a small amount of mineral oil on a paper towel and buff the shells until they shine. This will ensure your shells look beautiful in any setting and last a lifetime.

Seashell wind chimes

Wind chimes made from shells are not only beautiful to look at, but they are an excellent way to bring a touch of nature into your home. Wind chimes are an easy seashell craft idea that can be made with a variety of materials, including driftwood, seashells, sea glass, bells, beads, etc..

Creating a wind chime made from materials you find at the beach is a fun and simple project that can be completed in a few hours. This is a great craft to make with kids that love sound and movement to commemorate your beach days. The resulting wind chime will be a beautiful and unique decoration that you can enjoy for years to come.

This section will guide you through the process of creating your own unique wind chime from natural materials. This is the perfect seashell craft for older kids. 

tips for making seashell wind chimes with kids

Shell windchime materials:

  • Driftwood
  • Seashells
  • String (we used natural sisal, as it gives it a beachier look)
  • Hot glue gun
  • Scissors
  • Ruler or measuring tape
  • Drill (if you want to drill holes in your shells)
  • Optional: colorful beads, sea glass, shark’s teeth, etc.

DIY seashell windchimes with kids

Shell windchime instructions:

  1. Collect driftwood and seashells of various sizes and shapes.
  2. Cut strings to varying lengths, depending on the size and shape of the driftwood and seashells. We alternated the length of our strings. 
  3. Choose your seashells. You can get as creative as you want. We decided we wanted it to look cohesive, so we chose multiple shells that matched and alternated them. 
  4. Sand your driftwood (optional) for a beachier look. If you don’t have a sander, you can use a knife to shave the top layer of wood off. 
  5. Drill small holes into each end of the driftwood. 
  6. Thread string through holes and tie a knot at each end. You can create this piece as long or as short as you want. This will be the part that you hang. 
  7. Now to decorating! We chose to drill a small hole into each shell and thread the string through. The easiest way to do this is to apply hot glue to the back of each seashell and glue it to the string. You can leave as much space between each shell as you would like. 
  8. Repeat steps 6 and 7 with the remaining seashells and strings, spacing them evenly along the driftwood.
  9. Use hot glue to secure the knots and any loose strings.
  10. Hang the wind chime in a location where it will receive gentle breezes, such as a porch or tree branch.

Tips for making wind chimes with kids:

  • Experiment with different lengths and combinations of string and shells to create a unique and personalized wind chime. 
  • If you have trouble finding driftwood, you can use other types of wood, such as bamboo or branches.
  • To make your wind chime extra special, you can paint or decorate the driftwood or shells before assembling.
seashell crafts for kids - shell and driftwood wind chimes

Seashell identification cards

Seashells are fascinating natural wonders that have captivated people for centuries. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, and each one has a unique story to tell. To help children and students learn about these fascinating creations, educational cards made about seashells can be a valuable tool. This section of the article will guide you through the process of creating your own set of seashell identification cards.

Seashell educational cards are a great way to help children and students learn about these fascinating creatures and the important role they play in our ecosystem. The process of creating the cards is simple, yet educational and fun, and the end result is a valuable tool for learning and discovery. So go ahead and make your own set of seashell identification cards today!

How to make shell identification cards for kids

Seashell identification card materials:

  • Various seashell specimens
  • Heavy cardstock or cardboard (we used an old shoe box)
  • Ruler or measuring tape
  • Scissors
  • Markers or colored pencils
  • Hot glue gun

Seashell identification card instructions:

  1. Collect a variety of seashell specimens. Make sure to choose shells that are different in size, shape, and color.
  2. Cut heavy cardstock or paper into 3 x 5-inch rectangles (this is the perfect size for little hands to hold).  You can make as many cards as you have shells.
  3. Write the name of the seashell on the front of the card, along with any other information you wish to include, such as the location where it was found, its scientific name, or interesting facts about the species.
  4. On the back of the card, write more in-depth information about the seashell, including its habitat, diet, and behavior.
  5. Hot glue your seashell to the cardstock.
  6. Organize them in a binder or box for easy access.

Tips for creating shell identification cards:

  • Use a local field guide for shells, a local shelling website, or a shelling app to identify the shells you find. Let the kids help with this! 
  • You can also include images or diagrams of the seashell’s anatomy or life cycle to enhance the educational value of the cards. You can print these off the internet or draw them yourself. 
  • To make the cards more durable, you can laminate them or cover them with clear contact paper.
  • Consider adding quizzes or games to the cards to encourage students to actively engage with the information and retain it better. You could even turn this into a memory-matching game. 

Tips for creating shell identification cards with kids

Seashell picture frames - seashell crafts for kids

Seashell picture frames

Decorating picture frames with seashells is a fun and easy way to add a touch of the beach to your home decor. This project is perfect for anyone looking to add a personal touch to their frames and create a unique piece of home decor. They make the perfect gift too!

Adding seashells to picture frames is a simple and creative project that can add a touch of the beach to any room in your home. Whether you use a single frame or multiple frames, this project is a great way to display your favorite memories while bringing the beauty of the ocean into your home. We created these as Christmas gifts for families this past holiday, and our families loved them. Nothing feels more personable than a personalized, DIY gift. 

Materials for seashell picture frames:

  • Picture frame(s)
  • Seashells (in a variety of sizes and shapes)
  • Hot glue gun and hot glue sticks
  • Scissors or wire cutters
  • Optional: decorative ribbon, beads, or other embellishments

making seashell photo frames with kids

Shell photo frame instructions:

  1. Choose your frame. Select a picture frame that fits the style of your home decor and the size of the photo you want to display. You can use a single frame or multiple frames for a more dramatic display.
  2. Gather your seashells. Collect a variety of seashells from your local beach or craft store. You can choose shells that are similar in size and color to create a cohesive look, or a random assortment of different colors, styles, and sizes to create an eclectic look. 
  3. Prepare the frame. Remove the glass, picture, and backing from the frame. Clean the frame thoroughly to remove any dirt or dust. If desired, wrap the frame with decorative ribbon or paint it with acrylic paints to match the seashells you have chosen.
  4. Attach the seashells. Begin by hot gluing the largest shells first, starting at one corner and working your way around the frame. Make sure to apply enough hot glue to securely hold each shell in place.
  5. Embellish.  Fill in the gaps as you add more shells, fill in any gaps with small shells or embellishments of your choice. You can also mix and match different sizes and shapes of shells for a more interesting and unique design. We added some awesome shark teeth, sea glass, and coral to ours. 
  6. Finishing touches. When all the gaps are filled and you are happy with the overall look of your frame, it’s time to add any final embellishments, such as decorative ribbon or beads.
  7. Reassemble the frame. Replace the glass, picture, and backing into the frame, making sure to secure it tightly in place.

And that’s it! Your seashell-decorated picture frame is now ready to display. These make great gifts for grandparents and teachers. You can also use this technique to decorate other items, such as mirrors or picture frames made from other materials, such as wood or metal. The possibilities are endless!

seashell mermaid crown for kids

Mermaid crown and seashell necklace

A seashell crown or seashell necklace is a beautiful and unique accessory that can be worn on special occasions or simply as a fun, summery addition to an outfit. Creating a crown or neclace using seashells is a simple craft and a creative project that can be completed in just a few hours and with a few basic materials.

Shell crown and shell necklace materials:

  • Seashells
  • Hot glue gun
  • Scissors
  • String, floral wire, pipe cleaners, or headband

Shell crown/shell necklace instructions:

  1. Gather your seashells. Collect a variety of seashells from your local beach or craft store. Make sure to choose shells that are similar in size and color to create a cohesive look.
  2. Prepare your base. If using a headband, wrap it with ribbon to match your seashells and hot glue it in place. If using a wire wreath form, bend the wire into a circular shape to fit your head comfortably and cut off any excess wire.
  3.  Attach the seashells. Begin by hot gluing the largest shells first, starting at the front and working your way around to the back. Make sure to apply enough hot glue to securely hold each shell in place.
  4. Fill in the gaps. As you add more shells, fill in any gaps with smaller shells or embellishments of your choice. You can also mix and match different sizes and shapes of shells for a more interesting and unique design.
  5. Finishing touches. When all the gaps are filled, and you are happy with the overall look of your crown, it’s time to add any final embellishments such as decorative ribbons or beads.

And that’s it! Your seashell crown is now ready to wear. You can personalize it further by adding feathers, beads, or even artificial flowers to match your outfit or occasion. Making a seashell crown is a fun and creative project that can be done by anyone, regardless of skill level. Seashell necklaces or a crown are a great way to bring a touch of the beach to any outfit, making you feel like a true mermaid or Aquaboy!

seashell crafts for kids

Seashell crafts for kids

There are countless crafts you can make with your kids using seashells. You can paint them, make personalized greeting cards with them, glue them to cups and make pencil holders or plant pots, even make one-of-a-kind jewelry! They provide hours of engagement, creativity, and hands-on learning for kids! We hope this post has inspired you to get out to a beach near you to look for shells and crate some beautiful art. Happy seashell crafting!

Have you ever made any crafts with seashells?

About the author

Lea is a mom of two adventurous kids and wife to her surfer husband Brandon. She is an Army veteran, Registered Nurse, photographer, and small business owner. Lea has lived in Hawaii, New Mexico, and now resides in Florida, where she and her family are enjoying endless ocean adventures. She has traveled to Costa Rica, South Korea, and many states across the US. Lea and her family love to surf, fish, hike, skate, and travel to new places. She is passionate about teaching her kids about nature and protecting our planet.

You can find Lea online in the following locations:
Instagram: @oceanmamalea
Website: Wild Stoke Fam
RWMC posts: Lea Reynolds