Crafts with sea shells

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We're so lucky to live merely a day's drive to the California Ocean. If your kids are like mine, they love to find sea shells on the beach with every visit. But after a couple of trips you can end up with a shelf full of them. My first inclination is to pull out the glue gun and start gluing them to frames, terracotta pots or a mirror. That's always fun to do and can take an ordinary object and combine it with memories of vacations past.

Linda Davis

Crafts with sea shells - We're so lucky to live merely a day's drive to the California Ocean. If your kids are like mine, they love to find sea shells on the beach with every visit.

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But I wanted to find some really easy ways to keep the memory alive beyond the glue gun. My four-year old niece Olivia happened to be visiting from San Francisco so she was my kid tester!

Craft tip 1: Ocean in a Bottle

This is a hit with kids. Take any empty water bottle and start by dropping in about 1/4 cup of any kind of sand. It's a good idea to rinse it out first to get it as clean as possible. Drop in some small shells, we used about 10. If you've got some glitter shake some in. Now fill the bottle about half way with water. Drop in a drop of blue food coloring. Now for the magic ingredient - baby oil. Fill the bottle all the way to the top with clear baby oil to create the ocean wave effect. Now, very important - grab that glue gun and run some glue around the bottle top and glue it tightly shut. This'll keep the top on and the oil off your floor!

Craft tip 2: Plaster of Paris Shell Handprints

This is a really cute memory maker. Pick up some powdered Plaster of Paris at any craft or school supply store. You'll also need about 3 cups of any kind of sand - if you've got a sandbox you can do this right outside. Or, for your next trip just pack up a baggie of the plaster to take with you and do it right on the beach. Have your kids put a handprint in the sand. It helps to have the wiggle it around a little to make the fingers a little deeper. Now take some found shells and place them in the imprint. In a plastic cup, add water to some of the powdered plaster according to package directions. Mix it up and spoon or pour it over the embellished handprint. It'll be dry and hard to the touch in about an hour. Lift it off and quickly rinse off the excess sand.

Craft tip 3: Shell Game

This couldn't be easier and is really fun. Again, you can make this up on the beach or even in a hotel room after gathering shells during the day. Using a marker or pen, write pairs of numbers on the inside of shells. It's a take on the old Concentration type game. Make 2 (1s), 2 (2s) and so on. Put them face down and everyone gets a chance turning one over at a time to try to match a pair. Everyone has to try to remember where the numbers are to match them up.

Craft tip 4: Do It Yourself Photo Jar

Grab a canning jar or any empty jar. Grab one of your vacation photos and again a little sand and collectible shells. Put in some sand, arrange some of your shells and put the photo inside so it sort of wraps around the inside of the jar. This gives the effect of a display frame for just pennies.

There you go, some fun ways to keep those shells from just gathering dust on a shelf. If you haven't gotten to go to a beach recently keep in mind that you can pick up sand and shells in bulk at craft stores and pretend that you've gone to the beach even if you haven't. They are really affordable and the kids can use them for any of these activities.

Happy crafting.

Live and Learn

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