These shell mandalas are a great lesson in math and art and make a wonderful seaside-themed finger gym to build fine motor skills.
What to do with a bucket of shells?
One art idea we return to often is making mandalas, but we’d never made one from shells before.
Time to give it a try!
This activity makes a fantastic finger gym for children to develop their fine motor skills. picking up, moving and placing the small shells really helps to develop finger and hand strength and dexterity.
We started by sorting out our shells into groups, matching by shape, colour and sizes.
This is a good opportunity to look at the fine details on the shells, and to talk about which creatures used to live in them.
Then all you need for a mandala is to make a start and let the patterns flow.
A circle is a good shape to begin with…
and you can build it up from there, using any colours, patterns and shapes that suggest themselves to you.
Combing math and art
As you’re making your mandala your brain is working with lots of mathematic ideas. You are:
:: counting, and making repeating patterns
:: comparing sizes and finding sizes that match
:: matching things that are bigger than or smaller than the shell you are placing
:: working with fractions as you place matching shells a quarter and half way around your circle
:: playing with a radius and circumference, even before you might know their names
Plus you are getting a fine motor skills workout.
The finished shell mandala can be as big and detailed as you like.
It might have a flower shape, or be made of circles, or any design you want.
But beware – mandala-making is catching. You might find yourself making mini mandalas on the kitchen table, using tiny stones you’ve hidden in your pocket!