Two Crab Stories

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SWBAT compare characters and events in two different stories.

Big Idea

Your students will gain experience and make connections through reading and comparing similar stories.


One aspect of Common Core is that students gain literary and cultural knowledge as well as familiarity with various text structures and elements through extensive reading of stories, drama, poems, and myths.  This works out great for primary teachers, because it gives us license to read to our students.  However, it also challenges us not just to read, but read with a purpose, as stated in CCRA.R.9: analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take. In this way we give our students more information they can use as prior knowledge and apply to other subject areas.  In First Grade we start this process through RL.1.9: compare and contrast the adventures and experiences of characters in stories.

Common Core Connection:

Lesson Overview:

In today’s lesson I introduced my students to the concept of indentifying basic similarities in and difference between two literary texts on the same topic through a teacher read a-loud.  


  • Houghton Mifflin Reading Theme: Home Sweet Home, Moving Day, by Robert Kalan
  • Old Shell, New Shell, by Helen Ward
  • Lined newsprint: one sheet per student


10 minutes

As seen on the accompanying video (Two Shells), I began this lessen by holding up two different types of shells and asking my students what are the same and different about them.  After hearing their responses I passed the shells around so my students could have a better look at them.

We then moved to our seats where I asked my students what do the words contrast and compare mean.  The student on the video does a great job answering for the class.  From there I gave my students a moment to think about yesterday’s story, Moving Day, Robert Kalan.  I then used the magic cup to select students to retell the story from the beginning, middle, and end.  (Even though sequencing was not the focus of the lesson, I usually have my students do this activity to help them with their re-telling and comprehension skills)  When we finished I explained that today I was going to read another story about a hermit crab to them and they were to listen for things that were the same as and different from Moving Day.  

Guided Practice

20 minutes

Before I began reading Old Shell, New Shell, by Helen Ward, I gave each student a sheet of lined newsprint folded in half and instructed them to write three things about the hermit crab or something that happened in Moving Day on the left side.  After a few minutes I used the magic cup Demonstration Video: Magic Cup) to select a few students to share one thing they wrote.  I wrote these responses on the Promethean board, I did this so my beginning students could keep up.  When we finished this activity, I had my students put their papers and pencils away and introduced the story, Old Shell, New Shell.  As I began reading, I encouraged my students to listen for things about this new hermit crab that were the same as or different from the hermit crab in Moving Day.  When I finished reading I gave my students a moment to think about Old Shell, New Shell, and using the magic cup selected three students to retell the story from the beginning, middle, and end.  After my students agreed to the events of the story I had them take out their lined newsprint and write three things that the hermit crab in Old Shell, New Shell did, or events in the story that were the same as in Moving Day.  

Collaborative Activity

5 minutes

Again after a few minutes of writing I used the magic cup to select students to share what they wrote and added these responses to the Promethean board.  Once we finished I had my students share their lists with their table partners.

Independent Practice

15 minutes

At this point we moved into our differentiated leveled reading groups where my students rotate every 15 to 20 minutes through independent practice work areas. One of these areas is journal writing where my students used their lists to write in their journals how Moving Day and Old Shell, New Shell were the same and different.  I instructed them to look at their lists and think about a writing “hook” that would tell the reader that the journal was going to compare two stories.  The two accompanying two videos shows me checking the work of two students in my highest reading group.  In Comparing the Stories  the student explains what he did, and you can hear the hook the student used to get the readers attention.  The student in Journal Reading demonstrates a well written journal piece.

Ticket Out the Door

5 minutes

For a sticker my students needed to tell me one or two ways the two hermit crabs were the same.