Shells: Treasures from under the Sea

"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 (piddocks), 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 snail with a beautiful shell.

On the Web

9 Fun, Easy Crafts Using Shells to Remind the Kids of Your Summer Vacation
Make shell animals; dye your seashells; design necklaces, hearts, hair pins, wall hangings, picture frames; and make a clamshell jewelry holder.

Chesapeake Bay Program: Field Guide
Learn a lot about the animals and plants in our Chesapeake Bay region. You will find information about creatures with shells under Insects & Invertebrates.

Draw Sea Shells
Don't have seashells? Learn how to draw your own and then color them.

How Are Seashells Formed?
What are seashells, anyway, and how do they come into being? Expand your vocabulary (pop-up definitions!) while learning about 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

Animals With Awesome Armor by Susan K. Mitchell

Cool Shells by Mary Elizabeth Salzmann

Little Clam by Lynn Reiser

Seashells by Melissa Stewart

Shell by Alex Arthur

Shells! Shells! Shells! written and illustrated by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace

Tide Pools by Anita Malnig

What Lives in A Shell? by Kathleen Zoehfeld