Scroll down for the shells skip counting and 3-part cards freebie printables.
If you have ever been far from home for a long time, you have probably started to get homesick. There really is nothing like sleeping in your own bed with your own pillow that is just right. But what if your house followed you everywhere? You could never be free of it, it is always there like a shadow. Starts to sound like a horror movie, yes?
If your children are of the age where they might associate shells with the creature has died, I recommend you have a strategy on hand. Something like, Mr. Crab went to the Sea in the Sky and didn’t need the shell anymore and wanted someone else to appreciate his former home. This may actually help your child develop a deeper respect for shells and what they represent beyond a pretty memento of a fun day at the beach.
For full disclosure, shells can also be found on freshwater shores although in lesser quantity and often smaller in size. Generally, the warmer the water, the larger the shells, although it also depends on the creature who made the shell.
So the next time you go to the beach, perhaps you will look at the shells differently. It’s quite amazing that a creature could create their own home and leave something for us to appreciate after they have left this world. I still maintain however that cephalopods and starfish are just creepy. Starfish are actually vicious predators. I can’t quite look at Peaches (from Finding Nemo) as a harmless cute creature although the find a happy place line is a classic.
For many creatures, the home going where they go is part of their routine daily life. They take their house everywhere they go, retreat into it during times of trouble, and only are free of it when either they outgrow their current house or they leave the mortal coil of this world.
Yes, dear Reader, I am talking about shells and the creatures that live in them. Shells are more than pretty trinkets to pick up on the beach. They are homes to many marine creatures.
If you step back and think about it, shells are rather a brilliant solution from nature. Not only do they provide protection, they often also function as the skeleton too. The most common shells are made from calcium carbonate which makes them different from human skeletons, as human skeletons are composed of still living tissue. Calcium carbonate shells are like hair in that the cells are no longer alive. As an interesting side note, pearls are also made of calcium carbonate but look vastly different than the average shell although some shells do have the nacre (iridescent) effect.
Creatures such as clams and snails grow their own shells to function as an exoskeleton and home. Other creatures use abandoned shells as their home, such as hermit crabs and the spotted octopus which hides in two halves of clamshells.
Shells exhibit astounding variety and colors. They are often quite pretty which has drawn humans to them for eons. Cowrie shells once functioned as currency and pearls were once more prized than diamonds for their rarity. Shells have also been used as various tools and household items, such as ceremonial knives, hair ornaments, and vessels for liquids. During the Heian era in Japan, people played a game matching halves of clamshells together in a sort of memory game.
Gathering shells on the beach can also be a fun family activity when safety precautions are taken. Shell gathering can be a fun activity like agate hunting on the shores of the Great Lakes.
If you are concerned about potential ethical issues relating to gathering shells, first determine if shell gathering is allowed on the preferred beach. Please check with authorities to determine if shell gathering is allowed on the beach. If it’s allowed, when you pick up the shell, ensure it is abandoned, meaning no living creatures in them. Shells are plentiful so if you take a selection of the most attractive shells in a responsible quantity, shell gathering could also be a good lesson in helping children learn to make responsible and ethical decisions. They key really is to act responsibly and ethically. In these photos of a beach near Tampa, Florida, you can see how plentiful the shells are.
Commercial harvesting of shells can be questionable as to whether it is done responsibly and ethically, but if the gathering is done of empty shells or the creature is harvested for food (i.e. clams and certain gastropods), most reasonable people would determine ethical concerns should be addressed.
If you live in an area where clams are harvested for food or pearls, a visit to the nearest dock where you can observe the activities without disrupting the workers could also teach your child about how the ocean helps to provide a living for the families who harvest the clams. Clam beds are actually quite distinctive in that they are often not too far from shore and there are often a series of sticks marking the beds and the ownership thereof.
This page has links to free science printable blog posts. The printables and resources are available at the blog post links. There are more, so please use the search bar in the top right of each page to search for other resources.
The bubbling snowman is simply a version of using baking soda and vinegar which children never seem to become tired of doing. When the bubbling begins, it looked like it is snowing. Please see the blog post here for more information and a short video.
Observe and journal about a tree for an outdoors science activity. Visit the same tree a each season of the year to notice what is happening. More information and a free PDF is available at the blog post.
Have you see the dancing dime experiment to demonstrate that warm air takes up more space than cold air? See the post at this link for more information as well as a very short video.
Solar Bead Necklaces are amazing for children but do not tell the secret while inside and working on the project. Let children discover for themselves how the sun causes these beads to reveal their colors. They will be happy to share the information with you! For information please see the blog post at this link.
Watch Me Grow, Rabbit is a nonfiction book for children with facts, information, and photos that show how rabbits grow and live. The free printable at the blog post has a worksheet and answer key to accompany the text.
I. Reid is a pen name. She is an insatiably curious, overeducated homo sapiens sapiens who much to the dismay of family and friends has never outgrown the why phase (or how phase if applied to how a thing works). As I. Reid is gainfully employed and considered a productive adult in polite society, I. Reid guest blogs on occasion guided by whatever is the curiosity of the nanosecond.