Book of the Week: Old Shell, New Shell

Every Monday, I highlight a book from our school bookroom along with lesson plan suggestions. I hope you find this useful, and please leave a comment with any suggestions or additions!

Old Shell, New Shell
Old Shell, New Shell: A Coral Reef Take, by Helen Ward

A hermit crab living in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef outgrows his shell and heads out to seek a new one.

This is a mentor text purchased with funds from the Federal Way Chamber of Commerce, and stickers with guiding questions have been added throughout the book. It also includes a lesson that focuses on these second grade reading standards:

  • 1.4.3 Problem – Solution
  • 1.5 Text Features

This is a great primary read-aloud because of the sparse text, but there’s also an incredible section in the back of the book for your more advanced or your particularly sea-life-obsessed readers. Every page of the book is annotated in the back with the actual creatures numbered and identified, along with text about the particular part of the ocean featured on each spread.

Hermit Crab

There are a bunch of great supplemental links at Kids’ Wings. Because the link is so short, it could be neat to plan a webquest using this list of sites. Or if you don’t think your students are ready to correctly enter the full web address, you can ask Mrs. Cole to add it as a bookmark in the computer lab. Also, the link mentions using Bill Peet’s Kermit the Hermit as a partner text. I have a copy of this in classroom library bucket 63 if you’d like to use it, just check it out using the check-out binder next to my tech cart.

Kermit the Hermit

There is a CAFE menu included with this mentor text, and I’ve highlighted these as suggested lessons:


  • Use prior knowledge to connect with text. Discuss how the previously mentioned webquest changed the way your students looked at the story. Chances are, many of them made comments like, “I saw that!” or “I know what that is!” Discuss how expanding prior knowledge can help them read books in the future.


  • Blend sounds, stretch and read. If you’ve already gone over digraphs with your students and you think you’re ready for blends, this book is a good, authentic place to start for examples with blends both at the beginning or end of words. Look for words like bright, crab, clownfish, spiny, clean, crept, squished, dark, watery, among, very, years.

Behaviors That Support Learning

  • Stay in one place. Often, particularly at the beginning of the year, I’ve noticed students with many picture books in their bags will seek additional texts during independent reading time. This book would be a good one to use to point out how books can be reread repeatedly for different purposes. The student could focus on the structure of the story, the crab’s problem and subsequent solution, or the plethora of facts at the ned of the book

Please add any lessons or supplemental materials to the book bag so future teachers can utilize your good thinking!

Comments and constructive feedback are always welcomed. Please let me know if these lessons were useful in your class!


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