Shell Fossil Imprints in Salt Dough

Create some beautiful homemade fossils and nature print keepsakes using shells and easy homemade salt dough!

Salt dough shell prints If you read this blog often you will already know how much we love salt dough and use it often for capturing baby handprints and child footprints for display on the wall! It is ridiculously cheap and easy to make, is extremely versatile and, if done right, can last years on display!

To make these we made a batch of salt dough using this simple recipe:
  • 1 cup plain (all purpose) flour (NOT self-raising!)
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup warm water
Stir the flour and salt together then mix in the water gradually until it forms a slightly sticky dough. Knead it until the stickiness disappears and then it’s ready to model with! If it remains too sticky add some more flour, if too dry add a few drops of water at a time. It can take a little bit of experimentation but is really very simple.
The girls are now able to make this nearly independently and love the mixing and measuring of ingredients! Great also for maths skills and early science thinking and questioning about how materials combine and change during cooking.
Shell imprint fossils

Once they had kneaded the dough we rolled small amounts into balls, then flattened them with the palm of the hand. Then they pushed shells with patterned ridges into the top of the discs and carefully pulled them out the reveal the imprint left in the dough. So pretty and delicate!

When they had made a few we put them on baking parchment and on a baking tray in the oven for 3 hours at 100 degrees C (approx 200 degrees F). In the oven they are hardening rather than cooking, so they may need to be turned over once during that period, or even go back in for another hour or two if still doughy after the time is up.
Salt dough shell fossils
We decided not to paint or varnish these this time as they look so beautiful in their natural state, but salt dough does take paint and gloss very well!
These are now for examining with magnifying glasses and are being kept with the real shells and other natural items we have collected on nature walks!

Learning Links:

  • physical development: strengthening small hand muscles by kneading, rolling, forming, squishing, flattening dough, hand-eye coordination
  • maths: recognising and matching numerals, understanding the concept of ordinal numbers (i.e. 1st, 2nd, 3rd) and their practical relevance, recognising and naming 2D shapes
  • knowledge & understanding of the world: history and explanation of the Olympic games, exploring change of materials from dry (ingredients) to stretchy (dough) to hard (finished models)
  • creativity: combining media,  working in 3D, creating relief prints
Cakie: 3.9
Pop: 2.3
Bean 19 weeks
You may also like to see our Salt Dough Olympic Medals, Baby Hand and Foot Print Plaque and Kids Foot Print Keepsakes

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  1. says

    Hi, I really love your sea shell imprints! They look amazing! Have a look at my new little blog and see what you think! Post a recipe or idea if you wish to share your creativity!

    Saltdough x