This easy flower nature craft tutorial teaches how to make sunflower crafts with shells, rocks, and twigs. (First published May 9, 2016; this post is regularly updated and republished to improve the content.)
Here’s a simple sunflower craft that can turn shells into flower arts and crafts. Nature crafts like these simple sunflower crafts are the perfect way to use all the shells you find on your adventures and travels. And making this nature craft is fun and easy for kids and adults. You might also enjoy this list of nature craft ideas and art activities for kids and adults.
I had some shell leis from a trip to Hawaii that we took apart to make this beautiful nature craft. And my daughter found the remaining craft supplies (twigs or sticks and stones) during our daily adventures in the great outdoors. And if you live on or near a beach, you can use the shells you collect to make these shell crafts like these sunflowers or this daisy craft.
How to Make Shell Sunflower Crafts
My daughter made the sunflower craft in the photographs as a gift for her nana. And I made these DIY Shell Flowers for my husband for our fourth wedding anniversary. You will likely need to rummage through your nature crafts supplies and/or go on a nature hunt to collect some of the things you need for this project.
If cowrie shells are not easy to find where you live, you can purchase them with the Amazon Affiliate links below. (If you click to purchase, Rhythms of Play will earn a small commission at no additional cost. With that said, I don’t recommend buying twigs, stones, and shells unless you can’t find them where you live.
Placing the shells in the glue on the plaque makes a fantastic fine motor activity for kids. In the photograph below, you can see my daughter demonstrating how to glue the shells around a small rock or pebble to make this cute sunflower craft. Scroll down to read the complete step-by-step instructions for this shell nature craft.
Fine motor activities strengthen the hand for writing and more detailed hand work. And once finished, this shell flower nature craft makes a wonderful gift for Mother’s Day, Christmas, and birthdays! A few other fun ways to practice fine motor skills while making something beautiful can be found here and here.
Shell Sunflower Craft Materials
Gather the sunflower craft supplies below before starting this flower nature craft.
- Cowrie shells
- Small stick/twig
- Small stones
- Wood plaque (or large or small wood blanks)
- Sandpaper or sanding sponge
- All-purpose craft glue, white glue, or glue gun with glue sticks
- liquid watercolors (optional)
- 1-inch Watercolor wash brush (optional for use with watercolor paints)
- Mod Podge or other white PVA glue and a foam brush (optional)
Shell Sunflower Craft Step-By-Step Instructions
Read through the step-by-step instructions to make this sunflower craft before getting started so you know the steps involved and what to expect. You might also enjoy this list of natural play materials for kids.
1. Sand the wood plaque or blank.
- Use sandpaper or a sanding sponge to prepare the wood.
2. Paint the wood with watercolors. (optional)
- Skip this step to leave the wood plaque or blank its natural color.
- Do not apply a wood sealer before painting wood with watercolors. You want the watercolor to seep into the wood to color or dye it.
- Use a flat wash watercolor brush to apply liquid watercolor paint to the wood plaque.
- We painted the sunflower craft pictured with coral liquid watercolor paint, but all colors look gorgeous, so choose your favorite. Or mix two colors to create a color blend. (For example, if you don’t have coral in your liquid watercolor set, add orange and red together to make it.)
- Please allow the watercolor paint to dry before moving on to the next step.
3. Seal and protect the wood plaque or blank. (optional)
- This step is optional but recommended for lasting beauty and protection.
- Apply a Mod Podge or another type of sealer of varnish with a foam brush to seal and protect the wood.
- Let the varnish dry before moving on to the next step.
4. Glue shells onto the wood to make sunflower crafts.
- As shown in the photographs, arrange twigs, stones, and shells onto the plaque to make sunflowers.
- Play with the natural materials on the wood to see how your sunflower crafts will look before gluing them down.
- Once you are happy with your shell sunflower, use craft glue or a glue gun to glue them to the wood plaque or blank, as shown in the photo craft tutorial below.
- We prefer craft glue for this sunflower craft project because you can move the shells around as you work.
- Use a glue gun one shell at a time if you want the pieces locked in place as soon as you place them onto the wood.
6. Seal and protect sunflower crafts. (Optional)
- Use a foam brush to apply a coat of Mod Podge or watered-down PVA glue on top of DIY Shell flowers to seal and protect the flower nature craft.
Shell Sunflower Crafts Photo Tutorial
The photograph below shows how to make a sunflower with cowrie shells.
Shell Sunflower Nature Craft for Kids and Adults
This shell sunflower craft is a simple nature craft and fine motor activity for kids and adults. They make lovely home decor and are a great gift for Mother’s Day, Christmas, and birthdays. You might also enjoy this list of homemade gifts kids can make.
Sunflower shell crafts are also perfect for the fourth wedding anniversary, traditionally flowers. But unlike fresh flowers, these flower gifts are made to last!