Friday, August 17, 2012

A Desk for Hermit Students Name Tag: A Back-to-School Craftivity for A House for Hermit Crab

For my first lesson post, I thought I would go with a back-to-school theme. I know. I know. What a crazy idea. It's not like anyone is heading back to school right now. Ha!

Anyway, I have seen wonderful lessons and activities all over blogland and Pinterest on books like First Day Jitters, The Kissing Hand, Miss Nelson Is Missing, etc. I wanted something different... that maybe you hadn't seen before. So I tried to think outside the box and brainstorm with my friend Rachel Reyna of Fisher-Reyna Education. Where I ended up was to use a book that you most likely are familiar with, but maybe never thought about using it for back-to-school. I chose to use A House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle.

If you aren't familiar with the book, it is about a crab who has outgrown his shell and finds a new, bigger shell to move into. But his bigger shell doesn't feel like home, so with the help of other sea creature friends, he decorates it to make it his. The book is often used with the littles because it goes through the months of the year. But (one reason I love picture books) it has so many other teaching possibilities!

What, you may ask, does this book have to do with going back to school? Well, why not draw parallels between the crab outgrowing the shell and students “outgrowing” their previous classroom. Like the crab’s new shell, their new classroom and desk may not feel quite right at first. But there are things they can do to make the new classroom feel right. Now, this lesson would probably be better for grades 3 and up since the book is not a direct reference to school. I had my own son who will be a third grader do the lesson, and he got totally into it.

Before you do any activity, read the book aloud and discuss the parallels between it and school. Make sure students notice that on the August page, hermit crab and his shell friends wander into a seaweed forest that they describe as “dark,” “dim,” “gloomy,” and “murky.” Then in September “a school of lanternfish” light up the darkness. If students don't see the symbolism, point out this is similar to how school provides the light of education.

You may want to start by doing a lesson on main idea or summary to make sure the students comprehend the story before starting the craftivity.

A Desk for Hermit Students Name Tag Craftivity
Students will create an all-about-me desk name tag while interacting with other classmates to share supplies.

You will need these materials: 
Shell Pattern copied onto cardstock or a sentence strip for each student
• Art supplies, including scissors, markers, crayons, glue, pompoms, sequins, buttons, chenille sticks, etc. if you choose

To start, set up stations with the art supplies around the room. If possible, put some at each table group of desks. Instruct the students that they will be creating a personalized name tag to decorate their new desk in their new classroom. The only requirement for this name tag it that it have the student's name and be decorated in such a way as to tell others a little about who they are are and what they like.

A table at a time, have students rotate around the room, gathering supplies they choose to use to decorate their name tag. When all students have supplies, they can begin decorating. At the completion of the decorating, you could choose to have students share their name tags and why they chose to decorate them the way they did. 

Finally, when everyone has shared, the name tags can be taped to their desks to decorate their “new shell” just like hermit crab.


  1. Great lesson! I would have never thought of using this book to make the connection to being comfortable in a new classroom.

    Thinking Out Loud

  2. Great idea! I have never read this book so I'm searching google for more information. I like the connection with the children environment!

    1. Glad you like it. The book is wonderful, and Eric Carle is such a classic author! Kids would most likely be familiar with lots of others of his books like The Very Hungry Caterpiller, etc.

  3. I love this idea! We have had our resource room moved this summer and I am going to use it as a hallway display about all of us getting comfortable in our new "shell".


    1. Love that! Take some pictures when you are done, and I will post them... sort of an ideas-into-practice kind of thing!