Introduction: A variety of short, fun activities to keep groups or individuals occupied on the shore with no cost or resources required! Activities encourage exploration of the shore and introduce participants to the wide diversity of shells that can be found on the shore.

Why not use our identification key to identify some of the common North East Atlantic shells?

Location: Any sea shore space where empty shells can be found.

Materials: None essential although small collecting pots might be useful. You could make a small podium with three different sized boxes or buckets.

Relevance and Aims: Introduce one or a series of simple ‘challenges’ which children can be given individually or in teams. Small prizes could be awarded to winners and runners up. Generally, this activity is best with empty shells, but could work with live animals provided they are kept in water very briefly and returned to where they were found after judging.

Running the Activity: 

1) Dinky Shell Challenge – Find the tiniest shell – digging in the sand or gravel, you will probably find some really tiny shells the harder you look the smaller shells you will find – hand lenses may help. Shells must be complete and no fragments.

2) The Mega Shell Challenge – Find the largest shell – Spend a set time hunting for the largest shell they can find. Again, no fragments allowed.

3) Seashell Beauty Contest – Find the most beautiful shell, judged by either a vote of peers or teachers.

4) Seashell Ugly Contest – Find the ugliest shell on the beach, judged by either a vote of peers or teachers.

5) Variety Show – Find as many different types of shell as possible – the group with the most different types wins.

A variety of activities can be used together or individually to focus attention or keep – small groups and individuals who finish early occupied. Shells can be drawn or photographed or used as a basis for descriptive writing and research work. For the variety show activity in particular, why not ask groups to identify with a key, name and record their finds.



Group Size



5-15 mins

Ocean Literacy Links