This is a unit that investigates things with shells. The students take an in-depth look at animals with shells and the different types of shells.
- Learn about hermit crabs and their shells
- Design a shell for a hermit crab
- Write a short story about a day in the life of a hermit crab
- A House for a Hermit Crab by Eric Carle
- Butcher paper or a large sheet of paper
- Shells (real or cardboard), one per student
- Acrylic paint in various colors
- Paper plates, one per group
- Paintbrushes, one per student
- Plastic cups of water, one per group
- Paper towels
- A Day in the Life of a Hermit Crab Writing Prompt printable
- Prepare a paper plate with small amounts of each color paint for each group of students.
- Cover student work areas in newspaper.
- Fill a cup of water for each group to rinse their brushes in.
- Before Day 2, make a class set of the A Day in the Life of a Hermit Crab Writing Prompt printable.
Step 1: Begin by reviewing why hermit crabs have shells. Ask students, "What have you learned so far about why shells are important?" "Why do hermit crabs move from shell to shell?"
Step 2: Read the book A House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle aloud to the class. As you are reading, stop and ask students about the items Hermit Crab places on his shell. Ask students, "What did Hermit Crab use to decorate his shell?" "Why did he use each item?" Write students' responses on a large sheet of paper.
Step 3: Ask students, "If you were a hermit crab, what would you want on your shell and why?"
Step 4: After students have had time to think, reread the story (or just flip through the illustrations). Focus on the shell in the story and its design.
Step 5: Show some examples of painted shells. Look at patterns and colors on the shells. Bring attention to the idea of large designs, not little pictures all over it. Look at the themes on each shell. Discuss what colors blend (yellow, blue, and green or blue, red, and purple) and what colors make a brownish color when mixed together.
Step 6: Send students to their work areas. Hand out one shell to each student. Have students examine the shell, then draw their designs for the shell in pencil first.
Note: If you provided real shells, remind students to handle the shells carefully so not to break them.
Step 7: When students have shown you their penciled shell designs, allow them to paint the shells.
Step 8: Set the shells aside to dry overnight.
Step 1: Hand the finished shells back to students. Take students on an imaginary journey through guided imagery. Explain that students are going to become the crab in their newly painted shell. Have them close their eyes and describe the following or something similar:
Imagine yourself as the hermit crab that lives in the shell you just made. You are in the ocean. Feel the warm, salty water. The sun has just risen. You awake from a warm, comfortable night's sleep. You stretch and poke your head out of your shell just enough to see what's going on in the ocean around you. You see the beautiful colors of the water around you. You decide it's safe to take a stroll and find something to eat. What do you see? What do you smell? You hear a sound in the distance, what is it? You feel something with your claws. What does it feel like? You finally have found breakfast, what does it taste like? What adventures are you going to have in the ocean today? Who will you see? What will you do? When I count to three, I want you to open your eyes.
Step 2: Distribute the A Day in the Life of a Hermit Crab Writing Prompt printable and have students write about their day as a hermit crab. Remind them of the things they saw, smelled, heard, tasted, and felt. Remind them to add details.
Step 3: Share time! When everyone is finished writing, sit in a circle on the floor. Let each student stand up, show their shell to the class, and read their story aloud.
Supporting All Learners
To meet the different learning abilities of students, I adjust the writing assignment. Some students may only write a few sentences, while an advanced student may need to write a more detailed story or a short picture book.
- Have students cover a paper shell with a collage of pictures that describe each student.
- Have students make a list of things they would need in order to have a hermit crab as a pet.
- Have students write persuasive letters to their parents asking for a hermit crab as a pet.
- Have groups of students create shoebox dioramas of a home for a hermit crab.
- As a class, make crab finger puppets and let the crab read stories aloud.
Have students ask one of their parents what items they would have in their home if they moved into a new, empty home.
- Make a list of things that would be important for you to have in your home. Be able to tell why you chose each item.
- Write about a time that you were crabby or what makes you crabby.
- Were students able to design and paint their own shells?
- Did students have any difficulty in following directions?
- Were students able to write a descriptive story?
- Can students respond to the questions about the hermit crab in the story?
- Did students follow directions when painting their shells?
- Did students follow along during the guided imagery?
- Did students write a story about being a hermit crab?