Each year, the kids and I make a Christmas ornament together to remember the year. When they leave home, they will have their own collection of homemade memory ornaments to take with them. Except their baby handprint ornaments….those will hang on my tree until I’m a VERY old lady!
These 3 Shell Ornaments kids can make are perfect for all ages and abilities, whether you have a toddler or teenagers! :)
We got a little bit of Christmas in July by making seashell ornaments to remember our summer vacation. We returned from Florida with fun memories and a big bag of seashells…that stunk! Whew! I had to figure out something to do with them because I could not stand that smelly bag sitting around for much longer.
Before making the ornaments, I had to deal with the stench:
- Rinse shells and spread on a pan to dry in the sun. If they still stink after that, look carefully through them to see if there is anything in them that was actually living when you took it. In our case, it was a tiny clam and a shell with some barnacles on it.
- Have your kids help you sort the shells into containers by attributes. This is great practice in classifying objects. For making all three ornaments, sort the shells into small, medium, and large. In addition, the medium shells need to be sorted into “colored” for the imprinted ornament and “white” for the wreath photo ornament.
Seashell Imprint Ornament
Age: Toddlers and up
Supplies: White Crayola Model Magic, rolling pin, colored shells, straw, ribbon, and a drinking glass. Ultra fine glitter paint and paintbrushes are optional, but everything is better with glitter, right?
- Roll out the Model Magic so it’s between ¼ and ½ inch thick.
- Use the top of your glass to cut out a circle.
- Use the straw to cut a small circle out at the top of the ornament to put the ribbon through for hanging.
- Ask children to choose both medium and small colored shells to push into the model magic.
- Let dry. According the package, it will be completely dry in about 3 days.
- Paint with a glitter glossy paint, if you like. I really like how ours turned out with it!
Thumbprint Fish Ornament
Age: Preschool and up
Supplies: Clear glass ornaments (I used these disc ornaments from Amazon), beach sand, tiny sea shells, small plastic bag, paint that can be used on glass, fine tip white paint marker, ribbon, fine tip and medium tip paint brushes. Wet wipes come in handy as well!
- Take the cap off your ornament.
- Put sand in the small plastic bag and use a scissors to snip off a corner.
- Fill the ornament about a quarter of the way full with sand.
- Have your child look at the ornament opening and ask them to find shells that will fit inside. This is great for spatial reasoning.
- Before painting, have your child plan how many thumbprint fish they want on their ornament. They can check that their plan will work by placing their thumb on the ornament where their fish will go.
- Use the medium paintbrush to paint their thumb(s).
- Instruct them to gently stamp their thumb on the ornament. You can wipe it off easily if it smears and try again.
- Wait a few minutes to dry.
- Using the white marker, add details to make each thumbprint into a fish as well as bubbles from the mouth.
- Using the fine brush, you or your child depending on age, can make a few squiggles of seaweed. This could be done with a fine tip green paint marker as well.
- Optional: On the back of the ornament, use the white paint marker to write the destination of your beach trip and year. I let the girls make their attempt at writing their names as well.
Seashell Wreath Photo Ornament
Age: School age and up. Hot glue is involved so please use caution! A preschooler could assist you, but you will do most of the ornament.
Supplies: White medium sized shells (I used 26), hot glue gun, white craft foam, pen, cup to trace, ribbon, and a small photo of your child on vacation. Ultra fine glitter paint for the shells is optional.
- Use the cup to trace two circles on the white craft foam. My cup was 3 and 5/8 inches in diameter.
- Cut out two circles, one will be the base for the wreath, and one will be the back.
- On one circle, draw an inner circle and cut it out to leave you with about a 5/8 inch ring. It doesn’t have to be perfect since the foam should not show.
- Hot glue your shells around the ring. The flattest shells worked the best
- Hot glue a second layer of shells filling in the gaps so the foam is not visible
- If you are going to paint the shells with glitter glossy paint, do that now and let it dry.
- Place your photo on the back circle. My photo was about a 2½ inch square.
- Glue the ribbon to the back circle.
- Glue the back circle to the shell wreath.
- Let your older child write the destination, year, and name on the back.
We used all the “most beautiful” small and medium shells in making ornaments, so the largest shells became a fun addition to the sandbox. Beach vacation memories were preserved and the stinky shells are off my kitchen counter. Merry Christmas in July to me!
Amy is a former reading and third grade teacher as well as a mother to three little girls with big personalities. She believes joy can always be found in playing, learning, and ice cream.