Painted Sea Shell Christmas Ornaments

We had made these fun painted sea shells last winter to give as presents. I kept a couple of my favorites, though. As we were decorating the Christmas tree, Squishy got really excited when he pulled the shells out of the box. He wanted to do the project again…well, actually, he wanted to go back to the beach to get more shells that he could paint. While I would love to oblige him, and if this was a normal December I totally would, a beach adventure is not looking too likely. Luckily Squishy had a few Sea Shells in his “collection”.

Painted Sea Shell Provocation for Christmas ornaments

This post contains some affiliate links to help you get the supplies needed to reproduce this provocation. I do receive a small percentage if you make a purchase, but it’s at no additional cost to you. 

I love that he had an assortment of sizes and shapes. Each one had a different texture for his little fingers to examine. He ran to the table this morning (because god forbid the boy walk anywhere) and started picking them up and examining them. I hadn’t anticipated him wanting to explore the shells. I quickly grabbed his magnifying glass, and we just looked over the shells a bit before moving on to painting them.

Painting sea shells, an open ended preschool craft
I let Squish pick the three colors that he felt drawn to this morning. If I leave out more than three he becomes overwhelmed and loses interest faster. If I don’t let him choose the colors he doesn’t feel as connected to the project. This is just something I have found that works for him, and I know there are several different theories on when to introduce different colors to preschool children. Do what works for you. You can even put out a little glitter if you want. We didn’t this time because it was raining outside. (for tips about working with glitter and not going insane check out our previous Outdoors~Indoors post)


Sea Shell

Washable Craft Paint

Painter’s Smock (I really don’t know why I even bother with them since he ends up covered anyway, but he likes them. I think they put him in a painting mood)

Paint Brushes: one for each color (I have found that Squishy likes to use higher quality brushes than usually come with kids craft stuff, even if he is just slopping on paint. He feels like he has more control.)

Gold Pipe Cleaners


Bit of Ribbon

Hot Glue (school glue just doesn’t work on the shells)

He must have been in a Christmasy mood, because he picked Red, Green, and Yellow. His “favorite” colors today. I used some leftover paints from a kit his dad had gotten him, just to use them up, but any washable craft paint will work for this. Then sat back and let him create his masterpiece.

That might be the hardest part, for me anyway. Just letting him explore the material and not interfering. I am guilty of searching Pinterest for children’s crafts, ohh-ing and awe-ing over the cute little creations. But I try really hard to focus more on the process than the product when it comes to his personal art experience. This may be the Regio Amelia influence on our homeschool life, or my own experience in art school learning “the correct” technique. I never liked being told how to create my art, and try to remember that when working with Squish.

Once the shells are dry you can take a bit of ribbon and glue it to make a hanger. We used gold pipe cleaners last year on the bigger shells, and it added a nice sparkling effect. Sea Shell Christmas Ornaments Preschool Craft
Squishy decided that these ornaments would make great presents for his friends this year. I am going to agree with him. The best presents come from the heart.
I hope you enjoy this craft as much as we do. It’s simple, but definitely connects us to our outdoor world. For more fun ideas you can follow us on Pinterest and Instagram


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