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: Shells, Scales, and Exoskeletons by Susan K. Mitchell
Readers will learn how animals such as armadillos, mollusks, and crabs protect themselves from predators.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.

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.

Tide Pools: Life at the Edge of the Sea by Anita Malnig
"At the edge of the ocean, a starfish suns itself on a rock. A clam is buried in the damp sand. A sea urchin s prickly spines poke out from a shallow pool of water. As waves crash on the shore, the water creeps higher and higher. Soon the rocks and shallow pools are completely under water the tide has come in. Several hours later, the water is lower again. Throughout the day on coastlines around the world, the tides come in and go out, covering and exposing countless ocean creatures." 

What's in a Shell? by Tracy Maurer
Examines the different kinds of animals that have shells and how they use them, including snails, turtles, lobsters, hermit crabs, and oysters. An eBook.