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My kids and I recently completed a preschool ocean unit to learn all about the ocean and its inhabitants. As part of this unit, we have learned about ocean animals and we’ve studied some ocean science. But of course, we couldn’t do an ocean unit without learning about shells!
Growing up, I always loved shells. I remember spending time at the beach hunting for shells. I thought shells were so beautiful and I always hoped to find large ones that were still intact. Funny enough, I don’t think I even spent much time considering the fact that animals had once lived in them.
In any case, in an effort to bring back some of my childhood love of shells, I wanted my kids to explore a variety of shells as part of our unit. Today’s post focuses on some of the activities we did to learn about shells.
Note: For more resources, printables and activities related to the ocean and its inhabitants, please see my ocean unit study page.
I initially introduced shells through a simple “invitation to explore” activity. I laid a variety of shells on a tray and provided the kids with two magnifying glasses so they could explore them in whatever fashion they wanted to.
When the kids saw the table, they were immediately engaged and began exploring the shells with their magnifying glasses.
They still find it difficult to use the magnifying glass at the appropriate distance to enlarge the object, so I showed them how these magnifying glasses have a stand they can use that allows them to put objects under to see them better.
After exploring the shells for a while, I gave them a few (educational) ways to play with the shells.
I gave XGirl a few shells and asked her to order them by size.
I handed QBoy a bunch of shells and asked him to sort them. I left the manner of sorting them open-ended, and he chose to sort them by texture.
Next, I brought out these great shell printables from The Crafty Classroom. We looked through our shell collection and matched our shells to the ones on the printables.
Finally, we used a seashell observation worksheet I found online to explore the shells using our five senses.
We started by looking at the shells and discussing their color and size.
Then we listened to the shells to see if they made sounds. The kids LOVED this part, and declared that they could hear the ocean in just about all but the smallest of the shells.
Then we used our olfactory sense to find out what the shells smelled like. (The answer? “Not much.” :-))
We also used our sense of touch to decide if the shells were rough or smooth.
Finally, we used our gustatory sense to taste the shells. I was a little repulsed by the idea, but the kids licked the shells like they were ice cream cones! They thought this was so much fun. 🙂
More resources for learning about the ocean
More ocean posts from Gift of Curiosity:
- Ocean Montessori activities
- Learning about ocean animals
- Salt water and waves science
- Blubber experiment
- Ocean animals book & 3-part cards
- Ocean Printables Pack
- Ocean Do-a-Dot Printables
- Ocean I Spy
For more resources, printables and activities related to the ocean and its inhabitants, please see my Ocean Unit Study page and my Oceans Pinterest board.
I think this is one of the coolest series I’ve ever seen, mostly because I lived by the ocean a lot of the time and now live in Kansas and am missing it! I think it is so neat what you’re doing. I love shells too 😉
Thanks Stephanie! We are definitely blessed to live so close to the ocean. I’m so glad I can share some of it with my kids. 🙂
Your kiddos licking the shells is AWESOME! I love how you are literally letting them use all their senses in exploration!
Ha ha! Thanks! I was a little grossed out but since they were so into it, I figured why not?!? 🙂
How funny, I think I found a very similar sea shell printable, but from a different source. I love all of your shell activities, we did many of the same ones, though we didn’t try licking it :). I think the shell unit was one of my favorites from our swimming creatures lessons.
Where did u buy your shells from ?
Probably from Amazon, but I don’t recall for sure at this point.