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!


Book of the Week: One Woolly Wombat

Every Monday, I highlight a book from our school bookroom along with lesson plan suggestions.

One Woolly Wombat, by Rod Trinca and Kerry Argent

Counting books are great. Austrailian counting books with adorable Australian animals are even greater. Especially if that counting book goes all the way up to 14 instead of the standard ten. You can find this book in the red “Math” bucket in the bookroom.

The numbers in this book are written out in word form, rather than in standard form. This might be helpful for second and third grade teachers working with their students on spelling the numbers correctly.

One Woolly Wombat is a recent addition to our mentor texts in the bookroom, so if it meets your needs, make sure you stop by room 301 and thank Anne and Tin for putting the most recent book order together!

There are no lesson plans included with this book. There is a CAFE menu included with this mentor text, and I’ve highlighted these as suggestions:


  • Determine and analyze author’s purpose and support with text. This is so much more than a counting book. It introduces students to Australian wildlife, shows them the word forms of their favorite one-digit numbers, familiarizes them with Australian slang, and entertains them with animals in silly situations. By the way, if you want to learn more about unique Australian animals, check out this fantastic web site.


  • Use the pictures.. Do the words and pictures match? This could be an important lesson on a time when this strategy can fail. If a student doesn’t know what a echidna is, looking at a picture of one won’t help them decode the word. This is a great opportunity to talk about what to do when one reading strategy isn’t working. This is also an opportunity to encourage students to read widely and engage adults in conversation — the more words they’ve heard orally, the better they’ll get at decoding them in their reading.
  • Blend sounds; stretch and reread. There are plenty of blends and digraphs in this book, both at the onset of words and in the middle. There’s not much text, so it would be relatively painless to type the text into a Word document and then project it onto a screen. I’ve typed the text for you here: One Wooly Wombat . If you project the document onto a whiteboard (or SmartBoard), you can then highlight or circle all the blends and digraphs.


  • Practice common sight words and high-frequency words. I imagine it must get a bit tiresome in the primary world to use the same twenty or so numbers each year. If the text in this book isn’t at your students’ reading level, perhaps they can at least practice finding and writing the number words they see.

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

Comments and constructive criticism are always welcomed! Please leave a comment if you’ve found this helpful!