Not sure what to do with all the seashells and rocks your kids bring home from the beach? Use their beach treasures to create mementoes of your trip with shell stepping stones for your garden a perfect activity for our 3rd week of storybook summer this year all about the oceans.
My kids and I love going to the beach on warm summer days. And when they need a break from the water and the excitement of jumping over the waves, we always turn our attention to shell collecting. My kids will scour the beach for hours hunting for treasure: seashells, rocks, and animal carcasses.
They love the hunt. And they squeal with each treasure they find as they race to me to put it in their bucket. But at the end of the day, they beg me to bring all their treasures home. The animal carcasses are a hard pass for me, but I let my kids choose a few special shells or rocks to bring home as mementoes from our trip.
But what to do with all the shells once we get back home?
There’s only so many shells we can pile into jars and on shelves and in their rooms. Instead of chucking them when my kids aren’t looking, we started to create shell stepping stones for our family garden. My kids get to keep their shells and look at them often and I don’t have shells piling up on dressers and falling on the floor where I will inevitably step on them. Plus, these shell stepping stones make inexpensive and meaningful souvenirs for any beach trips we take.
Storybook Summer Featured Book
We have included links to the book and resources we used to create this summer craft project. If you purchase via these links we may earn a small commission.
It’s a sweet predictable rhyming poem, reminiscing about all the sweet things we can do together during our day at the beach. And at the very back of the book are pictures of shells that you and your child may recognize.
With our shells, we look over the last page of the book and see if we have any matches. We try to figure out what kind of animals lived in our shells and talk about the different kinds of shells and why they might look different. And we discuss why an animal would need a shell to survive in the ocean.
If you find this book difficult to get hold of then check out our other books to read about beaches and oceans.
Ingredients to Make a Shell Stepping Stones
Disposable bucket you’re willing to throw away
Wet sand from the beach (or sand from the playground if you don’t want to/can’t drag sand home from the beach)
Cardboard box (like a box that holds water bottles or soda cans)
Shells and rocks collected from the beach
Measuring cup and water
Disposable wooden spoon you’re willing to throw away or a paint stirring stick from a paint store
Popsicle stick or pencil you can throw away when you’re done
How to Make Your Summer Memory Beach Stepping Stones
1 - Place the wet sand in the shallow box and create the shape of the stepping stone you want with your fingers. Build up the sides of sand to create a wall.
Keep in mind, the bottom of the shape will be the top of the stepping stone. So make sure to define that space with your finger well. We have made hearts and circles and squares.
2 - Place the shells into the bottom of your sand shape. Keep in mind what you place face down will be seen on the stepping stone and what you can see now will be hidden by concrete.
3 - Carefully mix the concrete in a bucket you are willing to throw away with a sturdy wooden spoon you will also throw away. Follow the directions carefully on the stepping stone mix packaging. Make sure to stir all the way to the bottom of your bucket to get all of the concrete mixed in.
Be careful not to add too much water because a little goes a long way. You want the final consistency to be similar to brownie batter. If you add too much water, it will take longer to dry and you may not be able to write in your concrete.
4 - Spoon the concrete mixture over your shells and flatten it so the top layer of concrete is smooth and even. If you get concrete on your fingers or clothes, wash it immediately.
5 - If you wish, use a popsicle stick or a pencil you will throw away to write on your stepping stone. We tend to write the name of the beach where we found the shells and the year. You can also write “Summer of…” if the shells were collected over several visits to the beach.
6 - Let the shell stepping stone dry overnight.
7 - When it’s fully dry, carefully lift it out of the sand and rinse off the extra sand.
8 - Place your shell stepping stone in your garden and enjoy! Remember that shells are sharp on feet and stepping on these could break the shells. So while they are technically stepping stones, we place them in between our herbs so that won’t get stepped on.
On your next beach trip, you can now encourage your kids to find shells and rocks on the beach without worrying where you’re going to put them all once you get back home. Which will make your beach trip that much more enjoyable. But you may still have to convince your kids that animal carcasses have to stay at the beach.