I can feel my husband’s anxiety rise as the seashells clink into the bucket from their little sandy fingers. The girls’ faces are full of the bright-eyed joy that goes hand-in-hand with discovering treasures. My husband’s face is tight and thin lipped and definitely wondering where the hell are all of these seashells going to end up and how long do I have to wait to throw them out?!
Me? I fall somewhere in between. I’m one part embrace the magic and one part at what point will we tip the scales and become eligible for Hoarders?
My girls like collecting things. Gemstones. Birthday cards. Sticky candy wrappers that are still holding on to the scent of their favorite treat. While I totally understand the desire to hold on to things that make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, I also understand not wanting to live in a house that looks like the local dump.
The attempt at balancing both sides had me scrambling for a way to deal with our current seashell collection ituation. Our house was littered with partially-filled Ziploc bags of seashells waiting to find a home. We could have thrown them all out, but I liked the idea of doing something special with them, in hopes of bringing back a little of that bright-eyed joy whenever my girls see them.
3 fun projects for your kids’ seashell collection
I take pictures like the girls collect seashells: with wild abandon. So it makes sense that one of my first thoughts was to have the girls each decorate their own picture frame with some of the shells they collected. Not only does it tackle doing something with all of those seashells, but it also forces you to actually print out a couple of the photos you took instead of allowing them to get lost in a digital vortex. I really love the idea of printing a picture from the place the shells were collected and using that.
To make ours, we just bought wooden frames at Micheals for a dollar a piece. I set the girls up with paint and glitter and let them have at it. Once they were dry, we hot glued the shells on (Samantha is able to do them herself, but I helped Ellie out. She bossed me around while I burned my fingertips trying to follow her very specific but difficult to decipher orders).
Nice and simple and the perfect project for a rainy day, we love how these came out. They would make a great gift grandparents or cousins you vacationed with too!
While we were collecting our latest batch of shells, we were amazed by the fact that so many of them had little circles drilled into them. The size seemed perfect for making jewelry—and it was!
This project was a little too difficult for Ellie, but she loves the end result. Samantha (my tween) struggled a bit (which, to be honest, comes with with the territory when it comes to learning how to make a necklace with jump rings), but she got in there and made her own. What you need for this project are:
- a few shells with holes in them (if your shells don’t have holes, this tutorial seems like a good one)
- open jump rings and clasps (like these)
- pliers (these jewelry pliers are a good place to start)
Check out this post for a full tutorial on how to make a necklace. The important thing to note for this particular project is that the shape of the shells can make it difficult to get smaller jump rings on. Keep that in mind when purchasing your rings and before having your heart set on using a particular shell. If the shell is really thick around the hole, you might not be able to use it. It takes a little trial and error, but the end result is a lot of fun—especially for little mermaids like Ellie.
Seashell memory jar
This last idea is by far the most simple—unless, of course, you have kids arguing over the placement of shells and/or fighting over what jar they want to claim.
I like collecting pretty class jars (and little teacups and little bowls… and pretty much anything else you can use the word “little” with). My husband hates it almost as much as he hates excessive seashell hoarding. This answers his but what care you going to do with it? question for both collections. Score.
First, clean your shells so they don’t get stinky. While they’re drying, make a cute little label. This part is entirely up to you. You could print the place and year they were collected and use Mod Podge to attach it to the inside of the jar. You could create a little tag that can be tied around the neck of the jar. You could etch something on to the glass. The possibilities are endless and entirely up to you.
I found hemp cord and these little flag label things in my craft supply hoard (noticing a theme yet?). They were perfect for labeling a little jar of shells. I love the bright pop of color and the fact that the tag doesn’t overwhelm the jar. It was perfect for this project.
Once the shells are dry, slowly add them into the jar. Slip smaller ones into any empty spaces and try to make sure the outside of the shell faces out. It took a little work to get them to sit nicely, but I love how this jar came out.