I love having homemade art around the house, and this is an easy craft activity for children that links their summer nature memories with the return to learning in September.

In this simple tutorial learn how to make driftwood decorations using sea shells, sea glass and other beach treasures from your family beachcombing expeditions.

Driftwood Art

During our first home school year when Caroline was 5, we collected shells, sea glass and beach treasures on a holiday in Cornwall during July. Caroline also found a piece of flat driftwood that she wanted to paint.

September was warm and sunny so we took our flotsam into the garden and decided to make driftwood decorations and mosaic seashell art.


Driftwood mosaic and seashore mobile

How to Make a Driftwood Mosaic & Hanging Mobile

You will need:

  • Seashore treasures; sea glass, shells etc
  • Piece of flat, plank-like driftwood
  • Driftwood branch or stick – bleached wood looks best
  • String
  • Scissors
  • Glue

What to do:

1. For the driftwood art, simply glue shells and sea glass onto the wood

2. We used a Uhu/Bostick-type glue which needed a little supervision but otherwise Caroline designed and made the whole thing herself


3. For the seashore shell mobile decoration, attach different lengths of string to each item. Many have natural holes which are ideal for tying string through

4. For those without natural holes, glue the string to the shells and peg in place until dry

5. Tie the pieces along the driftwood branch to swing at different lengths

6. Wild Daddy added hanging hooks and they have adorned the littlest room in the house for the past two years!

Responsible Beachcombing Rules

Though I love the philosophy of take nothing from nature except pictures and leave nothing but footprints, there’s something irresistible about seashells. There are usually hundreds of them so it doesn’t feel so terrible collecting a few every now and then. Here are some ethical, habitat-friendly beachcombing tips and guidelines: –

  • Never remove live shells (e.g. mussels, limpets, periwinkles) from rocks
  • Check all shells for signs of life, even those not attached to rocks – dog whelk shells can often contain hermit crabs, and periwinkles can still be alive when not attached to rocks

Hermit crab in an old whelk, Northumberland and live yellow periwinkle, Cornwall

  • Only take what you need
  • Don’t collect all your shells from the same area, collect from different areas of the beach
  • If you accidentally collect anything still alive return to the beach as soon as possible

For more driftwood ideas take a look at how to make a driftwood tree – it’s so easy the children can help, and for more activities to do at the beach see the Kids of the Wild things to do at the beach section.

Other Ideas

Guernsey Lily Planting

In 2015 we planted a giant Amaryllis bulb in September, a type of Guernsey Lily, that I bought for us to nurture indoors over the autumn term for Christmas flowering. It was a great memory of our summer break to Guernsey where the outdoor lilies are stunning, and a great nature activity too.

Guernsey Lily on its namesake island, the planted bulbs and giant ‘Hercules’ at Christmas

Wild wishes for some brilliant beachcombing and driftwood decoration making!