Of all the fun things to do with family at the beach, my favorite is combing for seashells. It’s an activity that perfectly combines relaxation and stimulation. Every beach hunt brings new and exciting treasures. Will we find any sand dollars? Who will find the most brilliantly colored coquina wings?
Buckets of Shells
For years, I struggled with what to do with all the shells our family carefully collected. Save them? I don’t know about you, but I’m constantly in purge mode at home, so I want to avoid adding more pretty little things without purpose. Being less artistically inclined, I also wasn’t interested in a beach craft that was too intricate, or one that required a trip to Michaels.
Two summers ago, Jake, June and I decided to make an artful display with our annual treasure trove of shells. Toward the end of our beach week, we took all our shells and spent slow leisure time putting together a decorative shell arrangement outdoors. It was so enjoyable that we agreed to make it a family ritual.
We call this our Beach Art. Looking at these sculptures for the rest of the week, snapping some photos, and then leaving them to the elements is my perfectly fulfilling shell ritual.
June and I also collected other sea debris to mix in with our shell sculpture: various kinds of seaweed, branches, fallen flowers, reeds. It gave us more to work with when creating our design.
There’s nothing award-winning here. The point for us is to have family creative time together that’s easy and fun. Shell sculptures are now a solid family ritual we look forward to each beach trip.
Taking a Closer Look
My friend Jen and her family have a similar beach art tradition for shell arrangements, but her focus is photography. Instead of arranging the whole collection, she and her kids take a particularly attractive subset of their collection and arrange them for close up photography.
The beautiful wreath of coquina shells above is by Jen. I love this idea of teaching our kids to stop and look closely at the beauty of objects found right underfoot!
The gorgeous butterfly shell display at the beginning of this post is by Jen’s son Kai. What a striking work of art! I get so excited about the idea of introducing photography as an art at such a young age.
Jen framed a few of these photos and hung them in her entryway. Beauty matched with warm beach memories. How gratifying for a young artist to have his work so prominently displayed!
Run With It
Jake happened to have some acrylic paint at the beach, so he couldn’t resist painting a dragon on this miniature driftwood he found. Start with a collection of shells and see what beach art you and your family come up with!
What do you do with the shells collected on your beach trips? I’d love to hear any other ideas!
This post is part of the Sensory Station series that highlights positive sensory experiences for families.