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Search for Seashells

It's lots of fun to pick up shells as you walk along the seashore. On some beaches, you could fill hours just looking at all the different kinds. If you'd like a few more ideas for an espe-SHELL-y fun day on the beach, try these! 

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Participant Age: 7 to 12, Under 7
Approximate Cost: $0
Duration: 1 to 60 minutes
Difficulty:
Physical Challenge:
  • Shells
  • Camera or sketchbook (optional)
  • Field guide to seashells (optional)
Classify

Seashells are what's left after certain sea animals die. The animals that live inside shells fall into two main groups: Univalves, such as snails, have just one shell. Bivalves have two shells that fit together like a sandwich. These include scallops, clams, and oysters. (The two parts usually break apart before they wash ashore.) Can you find at least one from each group?

Identify

Before you head to the beach, stop by the library to check out a field guide to seashells. Then use the guide to help identify your finds. Look inside the shells, too—after they're empty, sometimes other creatures (such as hermit crabs) move in!

Play a Game

Do you like tic-tac-toe or checkers? Draw a board in the sand and use shells as your markers. Or create your own brand-new game!

Invent Something

Did you know that seashells were once used as money? Or that they've been made into musical instruments, buttons, jewelry, and tools (such as bowls, scoops, and blades)? Take a close look at the shells you find. Could you turn them into something?

Make Art

Beautiful seashells lead to beautiful art! Use a camera or sketchbook to capture your favorites. Arrange shells to make pictures or patterns in the sand. Or use shells to decorate a sand castle.

Tell a Story

Choose an interesting shell and imagine it has a special power. Make up a story about what it can do, where it has been, and who has touched it. A group tale can be extra fun. Sit together in a circle and pass the shell around. As each person holds the shell, he or she adds a few sentences to the story. Silly or serious, your tale will be one of a kind—just like each of the shells you find!


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