Family Travel Friday
Destination: Florida Beaches
By Jennifer Close
Have your kids ever found a shell and wondered what its name was? Do they want to know what might have lived in the shell before it was washed ashore or why the shell is faded in color? Magic of Seashellsby Fredlee answers many of these questions for your children.
Kim and Jeff wake up bright and early in the morning long before their parents while on vacation at a seashore resort. They get up and head to the hotel dining room to eat breakfast where they meet Stafford, who lives nearby and is also vacationing with his family. When Kim and Jeff mention that they had never been to this resort, Stafford suggests that they go collect shells on the beach.
Kim, Jeff, and Stafford wander up and down the beach collecting shells. The first shell they find is a large horse conch. Stafford tells Jeff how the conch is a univalve snail and uses a single foot to move itself. They continue to search for shells into the early afternoon. They find cowries, cones, and more.
The first third of The Magic of Seashells is the story of Kim, Jeff, and Stafford. The second part of the book is a collection of shell pictures and descriptions. Each type of shell can be found in different areas of the seashore. You should look for conchs in shallow and muddy water. There are several different kinds of conch shells like the queen conch, the lamb conch, and the crown conch. The pictures show the shell and give the name, scientific name, and approximate size of the shell.
While looking through the pictures, my children and I discovered that the shells that we commonly find washed up on Pensacola Beach are scallops and cockles. These shells are typically found washed up on the beach and we are pretty sure that we have also found the rough scallop and Tyron’s scallop, though we aren’t positive! We think that we find the cut-ribbed ark and oyster shells as well. They were excited to learn that the giant shell that sits on the counter of their beachy bathroom is a whelk. We found that shell while we were in Virginia a few years ago. We aren’t sure what kind of whelk it is but they think it is a channeled whelk. After reading this story, we are now on the lookout for a Florida rock shell, which is a univalve bonnet. We do live in Florida after all so we just might find one!
The last part of the book has a couple of coloring pages to familiarize yourself more with the different kinds of shells.
Do you want to go shell hunting?
- You can collect shells all day long but early morning and just past low tide is the best time to look. Another good time to collect shells is after a storm.
- Bring a bucket and a shovel. Some of the shells bury themselves in the sand. The kids will have great fun digging in the sand.
- Shells can be found in the sand, on top of the sand, in the water, on rocky flats and in crevices so keep your eyes alert as you wander. If you find a cone shell, be careful because they can sting. We have found cone shells in the past and this was not something that I was aware of.
- Know the rules and laws for removing items from the beach you are visiting. Some allow it and others don’t.
- When you are finished collecting your shells, you can clean them by soaking them in bleach according to Stafford although we have never done this. We usually just clean our shells out with water. To help the shells maintain its natural beauty, you can rub the shell with a coating of cooking oil.
And, although the pictures here are of Pensacola Beach, don’t miss three other outstanding Florida beaches for shelling:
The photos of seashell hunting are the property of Jennifer Close. Please respect her copyright. It is the policy of A Traveler’s Library to tell you about affiliate links. If you click on the book cover or book title, you will be able to shop at Amazon and A Traveler’s Library will earn a few cents for each purchase. Thank you.
Jennifer Close is the Family Travel expert at A Traveler’s Library, and as a contributor, regularly fills us in on books that enhance travel with children. You can find more of her family travel adventures at Two Kids and a Map.
NEXT MONDAY, A Traveler’s Library features a wonderful new historic novel that takes place on Sanibel Island. Seashells play a prominent part in the story.