DIY with toddlers : 3D picture frame with sand and seashells

posted in: Do It Yourself, With kids | 0


By Mummy B.


The packages for Grandmothers Day arrived in France few days ago, so I can now reveal you our little creative activity without spoiling the surprise of Mamy FB. and Mamy NB.



We regularly make some DIY activities with Mimi. Most of the time, what we create is then exposed at home (like for Christmas) or in our families and friends houses, therefore it has to be pretty! But when I look for tutorials for younger, I am overwhelmed with approximate fabrications with toilet paper tubes or cardboard which I don’t really like. So now I pick my ideas in creations for beginners, but not necessarily dedicated to children.

To satisfy both not-always-beautiful creative impulses of Mimi B. and my aesthetic desires, I must find the right balance to guide her without frustrating her.



In order to create this Grandmothers Day gift, we picked up some sand in Los Angeles on Venice Beach and collected some seashells during our weekend in Monterey Bay. Mimi collected her seashells without any advice so I found in the bag many molds and pebbles amoung the pretty little shells which were more usable.

To arrange a nice picture, it was this time necessary to explain each step to Mimi and then let her do alone everything that she was able to do.



Equipment and materials were not very complicated:


A small plastic bin

A frame (well two, one for each grandmother)

A rigid sheet of paper

Some sand

A few seashells

A glue stick

Stronger glue (not too strong if you want to use it with your child)

An “extra strong hold” hairspray

Le matériel nécessaire



The day before, I boiled the seashells for an hour in hot water and then I let them soak in fresh water overnight to remove the smell which emanated from them. A few hours before the activity, I drained them through a sieve. 

Des coquillages pour un DIY



First, cut a rigid sheet to the size of the frame. To make no mistakes, I preferred to do this step by myself.

In a plastic bin, put some sand. Of course, Mimi wanted to do it.

Mimi et le pot de sable

Mimi verse le sable


She then slathered the sheet of paper with stick glue.

Recouvrir de colle la feuille


Then she put the sheet in the bin (the side with the glue against the sand) and moved the sheet inside the bin so that the sand layer could be the same everywhere.

Recouvrir la feuille de sable


To be sure that the sand was well fixed, I sprayed the sheet with hairspray.

Fixer le sable avec la laque

La feuille recouverte de sable


Until the hairspray was totally dried, Mimi sorted the seashells and picked her favorite ones. She was also in charge of wiping them with a cloth to remove any dirt or drop of water.

La petite main de Mimi qui choisit ses préférés

Les coquillages préférés de Mimi



I put some glue on seashells with the help of Mimi and she glued them where she wanted.

To secure each seashell, I added some glue all around.

Coller les coquillages

Mimi colle son coquillage


Then we only have to wait a day that the glue is dried and the seashells are well fixed.

Les tableaux sèchent


Then we removed the glass from the frame to place our 3D picture inside.

Tableau sable et coquillages : le résultat final


We packed the frame with bubble wrap and newspapers in order to stay intact during the transport USA-France! And now they are in Mimi’s grannies homes. Mamy NB. and Mamy FB. were delighted with this surprise made in USA by Mimi.

La déco by Mimi chez Mamy FB


By the way, the pictures of the final result were taken by Mamy FB. who sent them to me. Thank you! You can also see the painting that Mimi made in Singapore a year ago and which  also travelled the world so that Mamy FB. could enjoy it. 


For another DIY gift with seashells, you can also get some inspiration with the lovely keychain made by Lana and her mom Cécile.


Life in United States: From visa application to social security number
My dance class at the Ballet School (Walnut Creek, CA)

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