Seashell Collage

This seashell collage is simple, open-ended and combines nature elements. Collage is one of my absolute favourite art invitations to use with children of all ages. If you want to know what to do with all those seashells you collect at this beach, this is the perfect project for you!

Create a watercolour seashell collage for toddlers and kids

Ever since seeing Artbar create these wonderful seashell collages (head over to her website for a full list of materials and instructions) I wanted to give them a go, I’ve adjusted mine for a slightly younger age group.

Collage simply means gluing materials onto a surface. Younger children respond particularly well to collage as they tend to naturally explore their world through their senses. This seashell collage allows for lots of exploration through the senses.

There is nothing better than foraging on the beach looking for shells with a two-year-old. Every shell they find is the most exciting thing EVER! Each new shell they added to the collection = even more excitement. Toddler excitement is catchy!

I have such fond memories of looking for shells at the beach as a kid. So, to bring back some fond childhood memories, my son and I take regular walks along the beach foraging for shells. It’s one of our favourite things to do together.

What you will need

  • Seashells you can collect them on the beach or you can buy them at craft shops
  • Liquid Watercolour paints and brushes
  • A small canvas we used 8 x 10 in or 20.4 x 25.4cm . You could even use some heavy-duty white coloured cardboard if you don’t have a canvas.
  • Glue (We used a stronghold PVA school glue that dries clear)
  • Glitter (optional) 
  • Gemstones and modelling paste (optional)

How to

  • Glue the shells onto the canvas in any way you please!
Glue the shell

My toddler dipped the shells directly into the glue, he also used a paintbrush to apply the glue under the shell. If your child has not had much experience with liquid glue and they are on the younger side show them how to apply the glue with the paintbrush. They will soon get the hang of it.

  • Leave to dry for as long as possible, so the shells adhere to the surface.   

My toddler decided that he wanted to pull off some of the seashells and rearrange them before the glue had set. Once the glue was a little tacky we moved onto the next step.

  • We used an old spoon and applied some modelling paste in and around the seashells. This helped to create a nice textured surface to paint on later, (modelling paste needs to be used with adult supervision for younger children).

If you don’t have modelling paste, skip this part.

  • Now paint, apply the watercolour paints in whatever way your heart desires!

I place three liquid watercolour paints out in containers along with some brushes. Use whatever colours you have. Encourage your child to paint, my toddler jumped in straight away. He painted on the canvas as well as the shells. The combination of both worked really well, some of the shells have a hint of colour on them which look really lovely.

  • Sprinkle over glitter before the paint dries.

Glitter makes everything look better (in my opinion). My toddler loved the action of shaking the glitter container.

Create a seashell collage for toddlers and children
  • Display, place your creation in a place you can both admire.
Create a  watercolour seashell collage for toddlers and kids
Quick Tip graphic

A note on displaying your child’s creations.

When you display your child’s artwork, you’re telling your child that you value them and their creativity. This goes a long way to building their confidence and self-esteem. In short, it’s a way of expressing to them that you love them!

I hope you give this seashell collage a try.


About Emma - Founder of Art Play Heart and passionate advocate of getting as many children as possible to enjoy art making in their lives! There is nothing more magnificent than watching a child or anyone for that matter flourish and discover themselves and the world around them through being creative and making art in all its glorious forms.

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