"Look, Mom, a shell! A beautiful shell!"
If you go to the beach this summer, you may find dozens of seashells, each uniquely wonderful. Plan on filling a whole jar with your favorites: scallops and angel wings, whelks and sand dollars.
A jar of seashells is a fine thing, but you can take your shells home and create works of art to give or keep as a reminder of your beach vacation. You may prefer to start a shell collection, for there are so many different kinds of beautiful shells.
Here's something to keep in mind: before you found them washed up on the beach, your shells protected small sea creatures. Make sure your shells are very clean before popping them in the back of the mini-van for a long ride home. Your mom and dad will thank you for it!
Another place to see lots of sea life is the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center in Virginia Beach. Its cool, dark corridors are filled with all kinds of aquatic creatures. The museum offers boat trips so you can come along on an exciting afternoon voyage into the Atlantic to look for whales, dolphins, and more.
Before packing your sturdy shoes for shell-collecting (jellyfish-- ow!), stop by the library for books on which shell is which and what to do with your shells once you find them.
The following books and Internet sites are great for beginning conchologists*:
*A big word for shell collector. A conch is a kind of shell.
On the Web
All About Seashells
"So you're interested in Seashells. You're planning a trip to Florida and want to know the best places to find them, or you've just come home to find the odor in your bag getting stronger. Find in information you need from how to find seashells, how to clean them, and what to do with them next."
Use shells to decorate Christmas trees in the Florida style, make a sand dollar ornament, shell wind chimes, a shell angel, and a sand and shell picture.
Dear America: Arts and Crafts: Shell Necklaces
This craft was inspired by characters and events in the book, A Light in the Storm: The Diary of Amelia Martin, Fenwick Island, Delaware, 1861, part of the Dear America series.
Amazing Molluscan Facts
Did you know boring clams can sink a ship? Or, that an ocean quahog (hard clam) can live to be 220 years old?
Fascinating facts about animals that live in shells.
Identification Guide to Seashells, Sealife, Seafans and More
"This guide is devoted to help in identifying the many seashells and other sealife that can be found along the shore. From seashells to sanddollars to starfish and more. With so much of the Earth covered by water it would be impossible to include all items that could be found but most people should be able to find what they are looking for."
In the Library
Cool Shells: Creating Fun and Fascinating Collections! by Mary Elizabeth Salzmann
What is a seashell? -- Seashells in history -- Why collect seashells? -- Collecting responsibly -- Growing your collection -- Research and resources -- Finding seashells -- Buying seashells -- Trading and selling seashells -- Cleaning seashells -- Storage and organization -- Displaying seashells -- Seashell crafts
Little Clam by Lynn Reiser
Little Clam will not listen to his friends, the crab and the whispering tide. He must wander off to the ocean! The sea star, the conch, and the sea gull all think that the young fellow would make a wonderful meal! Big brothers and sisters can share this story with small ones, whether cozy at home or dozing at the beach.
Nature Crafts for Kids
Use leaves, flowers, twigs, and shells to make fifty craft projects, including kites, kaleidoscopes, and clocks.
Seashells of the World: A Guide to the Better-Known Species by R. Tucker Abbott
A guide for the beginning shell collector: how to identify and enjoy your seaside treasures.
Shell: An Eyewitness Book by Alex Arthur
See how a giant clam can trap a pearl diver, and learn how shells grow. Great photographs and clear writing look at different types of shells, including seashells, eggshells, and fossil shells.
Shells! Shells! Shells! written and illustrated by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace
When Buddy Bear and his mother go to the beach, she teaches him all about shells and mollusks. Includes facts about shells.
Those Summers by Aliki
A little girl remembers summers at the seashore where children swim, romp on the beach, collect shells, build sandcastles, and enjoy other fun activities.