Sand Dollars: Beach Camping Activity

Camping Activities Collecting Sand Dollars

Sand Dollars are treasures we find at the beach. Looking for Sand Dollars is a great activity for kids and adults that like nature. Sand dollars don’t wash up on all beaches, but if they do it’s worth the time and effort to go look for them. Kids love this activity, and it lets them run around, be loud, and get some of their energy out. 

Kids Camping Activity Looking for Sand Dollars

collecting sand dollars


Looking for Sand Dollars if you are, or will be, camping by a beach find a tide chart. The best time to look for sand dollars and other treasures is during low tide. They wash up and get left on the sand as the tide goes back out. Sometimes you can just walk at the waters edge, and sometimes you might want to walk in the water. If you see a purple colored one with small hairs, don’t take it. That is the color they are when they are alive, and the white or gray colored ones are the shell but they are no longer alive.


I found 21 the first day, and 41 the next time I went. looking for them. These were whole sand dollars, not broken ones of which there was plenty. Even the broken ones can be fun for a child as there are 5 little “doves” inside each one.

Collecting Sand Dollars

Collecting sand dollars is fun, but what do you do with them after you leave the beach? You will want to clean them, and then you or your children can make crafts with them. Me, I am making some earrings and necklaces for my grandaughter. Because I need to have a hole in them, I will rinse them off with water, but not dry them. They need to be wet to drill without cracking them.

Let kids use their imaginations when making crafts with their sand dollars and other beach treasures. Even little kids have fun with some paint and glue. Older kids might like to know the legend of the sand dollar as well as make something.

Teach kids to respect the ocean and it’s gifts. Don’t take more than you will use, maybe even throw back some of the ones they find if they have too many. If I wasn’t making so many different crafts with mine I wouldn’t have taken so many. I also am gifting some to a friend that makes beautiful crafts.

You can also gift the sand dollars to people. Most people will love this, and if they are religious, then the religious version of the legend of the sand dollar, along with one of your sand dollars will be a memorable gift.

Children’s Arts and Craft Ideas


Painting Sand Dollars


What do you do with the Sand Dollars that your child collected?  Well, most kids love arts and crafts.  You can start by cleaning them.  There are several different things you can make with your treasures, and while they are soaking in fresh water you can help your child decide.   You might want to break one open and let the kids see the little doves inside.  Some of the arts and crafts ideas include:



  1. Painting- paint an ocean scene or whatever you desire
  2. Jewelry- make necklaces
  3. Home decor-frame them
  4. Clean and save for a beach memory jar of your trip
  5. Make ornaments
  6. String them with other shells
  7. Glue them onto a collage

The possibilities of what to do with your sand dollars and other treasures are endless.  If you want to drill a hole to make a necklace in this type of sand dollar…do it after you clean them and while they are still wet. Use a very small drill like a Dremel. Whatever craft idea you come up with, have fun!

Cleaning Sand Dollars

Cleaning sand dollars is pretty easy.  Put them in water and try to get the sand out of them.  If you want them to be white and not have any gray, put a few drops of bleach in the water.  Soak them, then take them out and let them dry completely before painting or gluing. 


Legend of the Sand Dollar

The legend of the Sand Dollar is a Christian story of doves  being released from the star on the sand dollar.  The star is said to be representative of the Star of Bethlehem.  The star has 5 points, and if you open them you will find a “dove” inside.  These doves are supposed to bring peace.  The sand dollar that has holes in it is said to represent the 4 nails, and the center hole, or slit, is said to represent the spear wound of Christ’s crucifixion.

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