By Joan Garris
Photography by James Emol

As a retired New Jersey educator, I wanted a way for my grandchildren to learn about our lovely coastline and the life that washes ashore. Collecting shells and other beach treasures is such fun for children, so my grandchildren and I wanted a way to show off our finds, but also make it educational and fun.

While visiting my Ship Bottom beach house each summer, my grandchildren, Eliza and Connor, always put beachcombing at the top of their list of activities. We search for treasures along the shore, and visit a local shell shop to add to their collection. The children then hurry home to set up their special finds in the E & C Seashell Museum.” Using their art and imaginations, they design the showcases for their finds, set up a pretend gift shop, and food café with a creative menu. Eliza and Connor go even further to design admission tickets to the museum. Once all that is set up, they plan an opening day event, and even make advertisements to entice family visitors. Then they act as tour guides, pointing out their newest finds, as well as old favorites.

Opening the E & C Seashell Museum is always an enjoyable family tradition for the grandchildren. Each year we can’t wait to see what we’ll find on LBI’s shoreline and add to the museum collection. For our grandchildren, and our family, it’s a great educational experience as much as it is fun.

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