There are so many creative ways to play and learn with seashells. They can be used for math and science explorations. We’ve even used them to inspire a shell snack and some seashell painting process art. Continue the fun with these three invitations to play with shells.
Get a full week of summer learning! Try our beach theme, shell theme, or ocean theme lesson plans.
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If you follow us on Facebook or Instagram, you probably already know that we’ve been doing more and more invitations to play. The kids and I are really enjoying a shift to more child-led learning, and these open-ended activities have been a large part of that. If you aren’t familiar with invitations to play, Teach Preschool has an excellent overview and tutorial.
For our purposes, I like to divide our play invitations into three categories: invitations to explore, invitations to play, and invitations to create. This helps me remember to incorporate scientific investigations, open-ended play, and creative opportunities into our weekly themes. Of course, some invitations could be assigned to more than one of these categories, so it’s just a general guideline for me.
Below are three of the invitations we set up to go along with our shells theme.
Invitation to Explore
Our first shell activity was an invitation to explore. I set up a tray with different kinds of shells, magnifying glasses, and My Shell Book.
The girls were immediately intrigued, and they started exploring right away. By the way this exploration took place in my bathroom while I was getting ready in the morning–play and learning happen everywhere, right?
The girls examined, sorted, and played with the shells for quite some time. Tinker preferred to line them up along the floor, and Lovey ended up making some very interesting shell sculptures.
Invitation to Play
Another day we set up an invitation to play with coconut scented play dough, shells, glass beads, and small pieces of drift wood.
The girls spent a lot of time playing with these materials, and it’s an option we still have out in our play area after a couple of months. I always like to see what they make and listen to the stories and pretend play that develop along with their creations.
Invitation to Create
Our final shell invitation was an invitation to create sand and shell art. We set up a paint brush, sand in a shaker (ours is an old spice jar), glue slightly thinned with water, small shells, and a shoe box lid.
The girls covered the inside of the lid with glue and then added shells and sand. They both enjoyed the process, and the end product made cute little beach decorations to have on display for the summer.
Try this shimmering seashell art for another fun shell-inspired art project.
As you explore seashells with these hands-on activities you can also incorporate counting and music with this free printable 10 Little Seashells Song.
Get a Full Week of Beach Theme Learning and Play
Save time and get right to the playful learning with our printable lesson plan sets. Each set includes over 30 playful learning activities related to the theme, and we’ve provided different versions for home preschool families and classroom teachers so all activities are geared directly toward your needs.
This set includes active hands-on learning ideas and the following printables:
1) Beach 5 Senses Recording Sheet
2) Initial Sound Clip Cards
3) Seashell and Bucket Rhyming Game (-en, -at, -et, and -ug word families)
4) Seashore Counting Mats for Numbers 1-15
5) At the Beach Emergent Reader (2 Versions)
6) 1-35 Beach Theme Calendar and Number Cards
7) Beach Pattern and Counting Seashell Cards
8) Sand Castle Shape Matching Game
9) Uppercase and Lowercase Alphabet Matching Flip Flop Cards
Get Your Lesson Plans
Find more inspiration in our ocean theme.
For more great beach and ocean activities visit our Ocean Theme Pinterest Board. You’ll find crafts, snacks, books, learning activities, play ideas…and even more ideas for playing and learning with shells!