To shell-ebrate Valentine’s Day this year, we’ve made our own version of a sailor’s valentine – a coloring page that’s reminiscent of these intricate designs made of seashells.
Plus, a little splash of learning about seahorses + seashells…
AND the flexibility to turn this into a simple paper plate craft!
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What are sailor’s valentines?
The story goes that 18th + 19th century sailors would make intricate art pieces out of many tiny seashells to give their loved ones when they returned from being at sea.
It seems there are also tales of a shop that created these art pieces for sailors to buy on a stop before arriving home. Regardless of who made them, they’re beautiful works of art!
Photo: Rafael Osana Auctions
Traditionally, they’re made in an octagonal shape. We went with a circle for a simplified version:
Of course, this isn’t just for Valentine’s Day! It’s a fun coloring + craft activity for all ages, kids to adults.
For younger kids, the coloring, cutting, tissue paper scrunching + gluing make great practice for their fine motor skills.
For older kids, it’s a fun activity that induces mindful relaxation (coloring can do that for any age!) and is a great way to infuse a bit of science in there too.
With my marine science teaching background, I love sharing about these amazing animals whenever I get the chance. So I made a separate page with fun facts about the animals in the design (included in download under “supplies”).
Here are a few ways to help make the most of this activity:
- Read the fun facts with kids before or while they color. Be genuinely enthusiastic!
- Use the information as a springboard to spark their curiosity and dive into these animals more deeply together.
- In the classroom, have groups become experts on one of the animals in the design (seahorse, moon snail, or scallop) and present their findings to the other groups
- Kids can use their finished project as a teaching tool
- Have them teach younger kids or relatives about the animals they learned about. This is where the magic happens, when kids teach others!
(All of the info below is found on page 2 of the coloring pages, scroll down to download.)
We chose seahorses as the center feature, for the romantic partnerships they form between mates
- Seahorses are fish!
- Many of them mate for life. They perform dances with each other before mating,
- The father protects the eggs in a front pouch.
- Scallops are mollusks, a kind of animal with a soft body.
- They protect their soft body between two shells (bivalve) that grow with it and make a permanent home.
- It’s the only bivalve that can swim by clapping its shells together!
- Moon snails are also mollusks.
- They protect their soft body inside a spiral shell that grows with it (permanent home).
- They eat by drilling into other mollusk shells (like scallops!) to get to the soft meat.
READ THIS IMPORTANT NOTE: For our crafts on our site that use seashells, we always note that we never collect live shells (animal inside) or buy them in shops (because they harvest live ones).
While this activity doesn’t call for seashells, if you do decide to include any, please be kind to the sea and use only empty shells you’ve collected. 💙
- sailor’s valentine coloring pages download
- crayons or colored pencils (not pictured)
- mod podge or glue (brush optional if using glue stick or Elmer’s)
- tissue paper
- paper plate
*If you use glitter, make sure it’s the biodegradable kind*
Microplastics like glitter are awful for the environment, and looks like food of many creatures including seahorses.
When glitter washes down the drain, it can get into the environment + eventually the ocean. Animals eat the plastic but can’t digest it, and it continues to cause them harm + build up in the food web.
How to make it
- Print the coloring pages and color to your heart’s content with crayons, colored pencils or pastels!
- With scissors, cut a circle around the outer dots
- Glue the valentine onto the paper plate (you can also put glue on the front to seal it + give it a sheen)
- Cut square pieces of tissue paper to make tissue paper balls + glue on over the gray dots (we did just the large ones)
Of course, you could also add ribbon or punch a hole in the top and tie a ribbon to hang it on a door hanger.
We hope you LOVE sharing this activity with your pod.
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Live with porpoise,
Eve + Rett Taylor