Painting Seashells

Hunting for shells has always been a favorite beach activity for our family. Cue photo memories from past beach trips – here come the tears! Painting seashells when we get home – another favorite thing to do!

This activity can be done lots of different ways – but the goal is to keep the prep and set-up easy.

Focus on this activity being a creative outlet for kids to explore and create!

Gathering Supplies for Shell Painting

What would your kids like to paint?

In this post, we’re mostly talking about shells…


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Seashells and Paints Prepped and Ready to Go for a Painting Activity

…but we’ve also added other items from nature to the mix – sticks, rocks, acorns, anything goes!

Seashells and Rocks Prepped and Ready to Go for a Painting Activity

Now it’s time to think about paint.

For most kids activities, I typically like to stick with washable paint, but for this idea, acrylic paint seems to work best.

Acrylic Pants Squirted Out on Painter's Palette

If you are doing this activity with little ones, I totally understand wanting to avoid this type of paint…

…but don’t worry! Later on in this post, I have an idea that might be a much better option for your younger kids or grandkids.

Don’t forget the paintbrushes!

For just about any painting activity, I like to offer my kids a variety of different types of paintbrushes.

Again, if you’re working with a little painter, you may want to stick with just a one-brush experience – ha! – but for older kids, they might appreciate having some options – larger brushes, a smaller more fine-tip brush for smaller shells/tinier spaces in the shell, etc.

Having to use a large paint brush in a small area can be frustrating for kids who are wanting to be precise with their painting.

Let’s Paint!

There’s no wrong way to do this creative project.

We’ve done this activity lots of times and it has never turned out the same way twice –

Simply allow your young artist to explore and create!

You may even have an older child who is inclined to do fancy designs on theirs.

I love seeing what kids come up with – their imaginations are amazing!

In the photos included in this post, you’ll see that my daughter’s goal was simply to make her painted shells as colorful as possible.

I love this about her!

Looking for Something a Little Less Messy?

You might think this is the craziest idea ever, but it is one that my kids have enjoyed time-and-time again over the years:

Paint with water instead – such an easy art activity!

That’s right, instead of acrylic paints, provide your younger kids with shells, a small container of water, and a paintbrush!

When my kids were itty bitty, this was the best way to keep them engaged on extra hot summer days when afternoons outside felt pretty miserable.

No matter which option you go with (paint or water), I hope you have the best time with this activity – exploring nature and then getting creative!

No beach plans in the near future? Here are some ideas for how to get your hands on some shells!

  • Do you have shells from a past trip?
  • Could you post a request in the neighborhood Facebook group asking if anyone has any they’d like to pass along to someone else?
  • Embrace the rocks, sticks, acorns idea – where we live here in the Carolinas, this is the perfect painting idea for the fall season.
  • There are options like this for purchasing shells on-line.

Ideas for Learning at the Beach

Our family loves spending time at the beach, and over the years, we’ve shared all kinds of ideas for how learning can take place at the shore.

Jeremiah 31:35

“This is what the Lord says, He who appoints the sun to shine by day, who decrees the moon and stars to shine by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar— the Lord Almighty is His name.”

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