Check out the instructions below for these fun math and art activities to do with shells.
One of the easiest ways to get young children thinking mathematically is to engage them in sorting and counting activities. Grabbing their attention is probably the most difficult part. So use some new and interesting materials – like shells!
When we first took our shells out of the bag, Onetime (my 2.5 year old son) wanted to look at them and touch them of course!
We also took a minute to talk about all the different shapes and sizes and colours – and the fact that animals used to live in these shells, just like turtles! (Onetime really likes Franklin and has seen some live turtles at the local lake).
Next we sorted them into groups. There were conveniently 4 different kinds of shells in our bag. Basically, I held up one of each kind and asked Onetime to help me find the others like that one.
We ended up with our 4 piles. This is a great observation activity. Onetime had to really look closely at the shape and size of the shells to do this with me. I had to give lots of hints too!
Graphing Shell Data
Next, I used a large piece of bulletin board paper to create a basic pictograph frame. I drew a picture of each kind of shell at the bottom of each column and showed Onetime how we were going to place all our shells on the graph – one to each square.
When we were done – we counted how many of each shell there were – and we wrote this number at the top of each column. Then I asked Onetime a few questions like: “Which shell has the most?”, “Which shell has the least?”, “What are the biggest shells?” “Which ones are the smallest?” All of these questions touch on important mathematical concepts.
Onetime was able to answer a few of these questions, others I provided the answer after waiting a bit. I once read somewhere that young children can take up to 10 seconds to answer a question, so I’ve gotten into the habit of counting to 10 in my head after I ask Onetime a question. I can’t tell you how many times he has given an answer right at the 10 second mark – it’s really true!
Ocean Shell Art
To finish up our shell fun – we did some art of course! I gave Onetime the Pirate Treasure Playdough we made for another project, and we put it in the treasure chest. I then told him to have fun putting the shells in the playdough – and voila! Ocean shell art!
Hope you give this a try! What kinds of sorting activities have you done with your kids?
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christine williams says
Awesome! got an email with notification to a new post on your blog site…good! Love C xo 🙂
Sue Lively says
Great! Thanks for following Onetimethrough!