Monday, February 15, 2010

A House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle: Ideas for the classroom

•Submitted by Dave Smith
As the guidance counselor for 200 K-2 students, I teach weekly classroom guidance lessons. For the first lesson each September and the last lesson each June I read A House for Hermit Crab to every class. I ask them how Hermit Crab felt the first time he stepped out onto the ocean floor, how he felt the second time, and why he was no longer scared. I urge them to view their transition from grade to grade, or preschool to kindergarten, as an exciting opportunity while acknowledging that for some it produces anxiety.

More important, though, I stress that Hermit Crab is an expert at making and keeping friends: he flatters the new sea creatures he meets and then asks them if they would help him. I stress that if the students will treat each other in the same way then they will make more friends, and be more excited, themselves. Throughout the school year I refer back to Hermit Crab as an expert in making friends. This seems to resonate with the children.

Taking it one step further, our local PTO provides the funds so I can buy a copy of the small board book version of A House for Hermit Crab to give to each student that transfers out of our schools. The teachers have their classmates sign a small card which gets pasted inside the front cover. My goal is not only to help the student leaving to feel better about their coming transition, but also to help the students “left behind” to feel a little more connection to others, in the hope of reducing the risk of violence that often comes from those who feel isolated or unconnected.

It’s just a super book for all of these purposes. Even though I've read it to classes over a hundred times, the kids still notice details I hadn't noticed before. Sometimes I have a class act out the lines. Often in June, especially with the second graders (who are going on to a new school the following year), I adapt the text to talk about students going to a new school and having to leave their teachers and staff behind in the care of the younger students. They frequently complain that they prefer the original text, but I know that they get my point, and that is that they should feel the same way as Hermit Crab and I do about each new year: We can't wait to get started!

•Submitted by Nicole<
We read the book A House for Hermit Crab when learning about sea creatures. I use this idea with 3 to 5 year old children. When we are done reading the story we make hermit crabs out of construction paper. I put out sea shells, sequins, glitter, and assorted construction paper cutouts and the children decorate their crabs.

•Submitted by Kim Quinell
After reading this story, we talk about what the hermit crab might decorate his new shell with. I then give each child a little envelope. Inside they find paper pennies from our math book. I explain that we are each going to decorate a hermit crab, and they can use their pennies at my collage store. I also tell them that they can earn 5 extra pennies if they color the head and legs of the hermit crab red. I sit at the collage box table and call tables one at a time. (This is a good chance for the others to work on coloring their crabs). Children spend their pennies on materials they would like their hermit crab to be decorated with. The price of materials depends on how “cool” they are. Jewels are the most expensive at 3 cents each. Feathers we let go for 2 cents, and mosaic paper tiles are 1 cent each. Children purchase their supplies and work independently at their tables, coming back for more supplies if they have money left. They earn their extra 5 pennies when they show me that their hermit crab is colored AND cut out. A lot of kids are so excited about gluing their craft supplies on that they forget to cut. The crabs are left on the table to dry.

•Submitted by Amanda Dickinson
I have found that this idea works well with preschool through second grade students, especially with those who find it difficult to sit still during story time. On a sheet of 11 x 8 inch construction paper, I glue a large paper sea shell and a small paper crab, and give one to each student. I also pre-make each of Hermit Crab’s “friends” for each child, and as we meet each character, the students glue the creature onto their shell. The children are extremely attentive to the story, anxiously waiting to find out which friend to glue on next. In the end, each child has recreated Hermit Crab’s house. I have them use their picture to summarize the story, either verbally or in writing. The children are able to remember the story by looking at their pictures.

•Submitted by Diane R. Wilson
After reading A House for Hermit Crab, my Kindergarten class made their own hermit crabs from small paper plates. They used stamps and markers to decorate the shells Then they cut out crab heads and crab claws to staple to their shell. They also added eyes and signed their names to the crabs. This was a fun activity for all. You can decorate a bulletin board with all the great individual crabs. We also observed a real hermit crab for a day and then got one for a class pet. What an easy pet for Kindergarten.

•Submitted by Jeanne Riley
I’m a schoolwide Reading Teacher at Lihikai School in Kahului Maui, Hawaii. I combined crab puppets with my flannel board to introduce the characters and the setting from the book A House for Hermit Crab. By gluing pieces of velcro onto a small puppet, I was able to attach each creature to the crab as I read the book. At the end, when the crab moves to a bigger shell, I bring out a larger puppet...SURPRISE! It’s such a good story about growing up!

•Submitted by Carrie Milliard Blackmar
My kindergarten students love to role play the stories we share. To role play A House for Hermit Crab, I found a medium-sized, square cardboard box to use as our “very plain shell.” I cut off all but 3 of the box flaps, cut 2 arm holes on the sides (leaving the remaining flap hanging in the back), and cut out a half circle for a neck rest. After the initial read-aloud, the children and I retold the book together. As we met each of Hermit Crab’s friends, I cut out the sea creature shape from colored paper, giving one to each child. At the end of the retelling, one child donned the plain shell and then visited the other children in the circle. Each child taped their paper sea creature onto the sides of the shell. At the end, the hermit crab wiggled out of his now “too small” shell and gave his house and friends to another child in the circle.

•Submitted by Amy Talbot
I do an art lesson each year with A House for Hermit Crab. Using a large duplicated shell picture, we decorate it with anything and everything I happen to have in the closet: macaroni, buttons, glitter, yarn, tissue paper, confetti, beans, etc. I really enjoy my author unit on Eric Carle and the students do, too.

•Submitted by Robin Shank
After reading A House for Hermit Crab, my Kindergartners made their own hermit crab houses. We used clay for the shell and various other items for the visitors of the shell such as noodles, sequins, beads, construction paper, pipe cleaners, anything goes. We then created our own bottom of the ocean out of paper and tissue paper to display the hermit crabs. We wrote stories about our crabs. We also had two hermit crabs visit our classroom for a couple weeks and took a trip to the tide pools to look for hermit crabs. What a nice way to start a thematic unit on oceans!

•Submitted by Pat Ammons
I have used A House for Hermit Crab as a June reading for a number of years in my Kindergarten to ease fears of moving up to First Grade. Last year I made up a songfest type play using different songs from each month and tying it in with the little hermit crab. We made large tag board shells for each child. They decorated them with markers and construction paper ideas from their birthday month. We wore tie dyed shirts that looked like the ocean floor and red headbands with black pipe cleaner antenna. Here is a poem I wrote to tie it together:

I’m a little like that hermit crab I’m growing in my shell;
Soon enough I’ll move along saying goodbye to Kindergarten’s bell.
I’m a little like that hermit crab, I need the safety of my shell.
Yet every month I’m bigger, the length of my clothes will tell.
I’m a little like that hermit crab, this school is my ocean floor.
There are endless possibilities, so much world to be explored.
I’m a little like that hermit crab, I’m stepping out real soon.
Please applaud my courage, even small bells ring a tune.
I’m a little like that hermit crab, and though it’s sad to be parted;
I know the world awaits me- and I can’t wait to get started!

•Submitted by Ellen Short
I teach first grade. My students have always loved A House for Hermit Crab. We draw and color the sea animals in the sequence they are met and then do a blue paint wash over the pictures. The pictures have to be colored very dark.

•Submitted by Lori DeNicola
To help students learn the months of the year, read A House for Hermit Crab. Then take a large piece of drawing paper and divide it into twelve sections by folding it and then opening it. In the top of each section the student writes the names of the months, one in each section in order. Under the name of the month the student may make their own illustration of something from the story that happened in that month. We used Mr. Carle’s artwork as our reference. They may also include a summary sentence or phrase if you like. We did this over the course of about two weeks, completing one section of the paper at a time, following a reading of the story from the book or a retelling using the student’s drawings. We also recited the months of the year each time we did this.

•Submitted by Lisa Loughlin
One idea that a group of children that I work with had, was making their own hermit crabs out of construction paper and decorate them with different materials that they have collected. Some of them wanted to write their own story on how the crab came across all of the objects that were on their shell.

•Submitted by Mindy
I teach preschool-ages 4 and 5. In my classroom we have 3 hermit crabs. We have been working on a project based on these animals for a couple of months now. Some activities we have done are:
1. Reading crab stories including A House for Hermit Crab.
2. Drawing the crabs in their cage.
3. Touching and holding the crabs.
4. Diagraming what a crab really looks like. (Yes four year olds can diagram with the help of a skilled artist.)
5. Painting pictures of crabs.
6. Writing our own stories and illustrating them.
7. Singing a song “Oh Mr.Crab” to the tune of Mr.Sun.
We will probably create a large sculpture of a crab and write a play about hermit crabs. The children are extremely interested and engrossed in this project.

•Submitted by Rachel Harken
I am a second grader at Bluegrass Elementary and I have a fun thing I like to do. At our school we have several things we like to do to make our hermit crabs feel special. What we do is:
1) Cut off about a quarter from the end of a coconut and drain off the juice so the crabs can retreat, and when hungry, have a snack
2) We take a whole ball of iceberg lettuce, or head lettuce, and cut out the core, and like the first idea they can climb all over and eat when hungry, or retreat into the hole where the core was and have safety and a great place to snack when hungry, and
3) Build a small house out of crackers, using peanut butter to hold the walls and roof together, and then put extra peanut butter on the walls and roof for them to also snack on. The best part of this is when there are multiple hermit crabs, to watch over the course of the week as they slowly devour the house. We have lots of fun, I hope you will too.

For more info on Eric Carle's books go to his website:
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Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

I plan to check my grandson’s book shelves next time I’m at his house. If he doesn’t already have this book in his collection, I’ll add it to his “Grandma’s house shelf.”

VKT said...

I love Eric Carle. What a great blog Kathy!

Anonymous said...

Great post Kathy. This is one Eric Carle book I haven't read. Sounds really cute. Lots of great ideas on how to use the book in school too.

Suzanne Lieurance said...

Wow! Interesting post with so many wonderful tips from teachers.

Thanks for sharing!

kathy stemke said...

Thanks for visiting everyone.