Shell Painting Creates Beautiful Ocean Art for Kids

Painting sea shells is simple, but fun, ocean art for kids!  I’ve done this activity with students in the past, and every time it’s been a hit.  I think this year’s shells turned out beautifully!  They were vibrantly colored, and the painting see

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ocean art for kids - beautifully painted shells using liquid watercolors

Colorful ocean art for kids

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When painting shells in previous years, I’ve used tempera or acrylic paints.  Those paints worked well, but I decided to change it up a little bit this year.  Last month, my students used Mess for Less’ artful Easter egg decorating idea and absolutely adored using liquid watercolors.  So I thought we’d try them for this ocean art project.

liquid watercolors create beautiful ocean art for kids

I squirted some liquid watercolors in a paint tray, grabbed some brushes, and put out some seashells.  As usual, the kiddos came over to investigate before I was done setting up.  :)  Within a few minutes, the table was filled with happily painting children . . . and one happily painting teacher!

Some of the shells were matte to begin with, while others were shiny.  Some had ridges, while others were very smooth.  There were store-bought shells mixed in with hand-found shells. The kids and I had fun seeing how the watercolors acted on the different surfaces.

painting shells with watercolors as ocean art for kids

The ridged shells were the most interesting to watch because of how the paint flowed down the ridges.  The children seemed amazed by the rivulets of watercolors on the shells.

  • “Look!  The paint’s running away!”
  • “What about if we add even more paint to it!?”
  • “Hey, look!  It’s darker blue on those lines of the shell!”

The shiny shells didn’t hold the paint as well as the matte shells, but that was to be expected.  The kids and I still liked painting the shiny shells, and the shells still turned out fine.

shell painting with liquid watercolors yields beautiful ocean art for kids

This was definitely a super simple process art experience for the kiddos.  As they were caught up what they were doing, an amazing amount of learning managed to “sneak in”!  Here are just a few items we touched on:

  • Descriptive vocabulary
  • Colors and color mixing techniques
  • Liquid absorption
  • The concept of depth
  • Exploration of textures

explore colors and textures with ocean art for kids

More fun painting sea shells

What easy ocean art for kids have you tried recently?  Have you ever painted shells with the kiddos before?


  1. says

    We are heading to the beach this summer so we’ll need to look for extra shells that we can paint! Love this project! Thanks for sharing at the Discover & Explore Art linky — I’m featuring you this week :)


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