When we were at the beach last week we did some sandcasting with plaster of paris. It's not exactly a new idea. I had heard of it before then came across the idea again in my library copy of EcoArt and thought it would be a fun activity to have up my sleeve for when the kids got tired of the ocean. They never did (tire of the water), but they were willing to be lured away for a few minutes...
First we dug holes in the sand and the kids lined the bottom with seashells.
Then we mixed the plaster of paris according to the package directions (2 parts plaster to 1 part water) into a throwaway plastic container. A milk jug would work well. Here Henry is measuring out the water while Maia watches.
Then we poured the plaster over the shells in the holes and smoothed the top a bit.
The kids disappeared back to their water play while the plaster casts hardened -- it takes about half an hour. Henry's sister Lucie is trying to make off with the (heavy) bucket of plaster above.
A brief foray back to lift up the hardened plaster shapes and inspect their handiwork...
And the finished pieces after some of the excess sand has been brushed away. We haven't made a summer nature table yet, and I'm thinking of a beach-themed one with a couple of these and some sculpey nature prints we made from shells and seaside vegetation, etc. By the way, you could also do this in your backyard sandbox or in a shoebox full of sand. And you can put just about anything in -- I've heard of using beads, marbles, nature items, and handprints to name just a few.
See how we used our plaster beach mementos in our beach-themed nature table.