Getting More from the Hermit Crab

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SWBAT compare and contrast the similarities and differences in three literary texts on the same subject

Big Idea

Just like 1 jelly bean can have many flavors, your students will experience and enjoy how one subject can lend its self to several stories.


Common Core Connection:

One requirement of Common Core to prepare students for college and careers is through extensive reading of high-quality challenging literary and informational texts. Through extensive reading of stories students gain literary and cultural knowledge as well as familiarity with various text structures and elements.  In this lesson I wanted my students to gain exposure to reading a more challenging text about the same subject and to be able to tell me what all stories had in common.  From our lesson yesterday, I realized my students understood what compare and contrast meant, they had trouble applying the concept to literary characters.  To expose my students to the wonderful world of literary text and comparing characters, I again focused on RL.1.9: compare and contrast the adventures and experience of characters in stories.

Lesson Overview:

Continuing with the hermit crab theme, I borrowed all the copies of A House for a Hermit Crab, by Eric Carle from the local library.  In today’s lesson each reading group took turns reading A House for a Hermit Crab to me.



  • Houghton Mifflin Reading Theme: Home Sweet Home, Moving Day, by Robert Kalan
  • Old Shell, New Shell, by Helen Ward
  • A House for Hermit Crab, by Eric Carle


10 minutes

I started this lesson by telling my students we would be doing things a little different than usual.  We would jump right into our reading group rotation.  The reason for this change was we were going to be doing a different type of reading in our reading groups.  (It is important to let students know in advance of any changes in routines because they depend on the structure of the classroom.)

Instead of reading A House for a Hermit Crab whole group or me reading to them, each group would read to me during differentiated reading group rotation time.  I told them that as they were reading I wanted them to think about all the stories and what happened in all of them that was the same.

However before we started our reading rotation I wanted them to think about and retell me the beginning, middle, and end of Moving Day and Old Shell, New Shell.  (Retelling the stories was not the major focus of this lesson; however, my students were going to have to recall what each of these stories had in common and what was different in each story.  Also retelling helps with comprehension)

Reading Rotation

20 minutes

From that point we went into our differentiated leveled reading groups where my students rotated through independent activities.  As each group rotated to my reading group I handed them copies of A House for Hermit Crab and gave them a minute to look at the pictures.  For this activity, we went around the table and each student read one page out-loud while the rest of the group followed along.  After each student finished reading one page, I directed them to finish reading to their elbow partner, as demonstrated by the accompanying video, Partner Reading.  As students came to unfamiliar words I would ask them what they thought it meant by looking at picture clues, re-reading, or from their own experiences.  When we were finished I had each group retell this story from the beginning, middle, and end.  I then asked each group what was the one thing that was the same in this story, compared to Moving Day and Old Shell, New Shell.  All groups claimed the hermit crabs were all looking for bigger shells like their old one.  The one thing they all noticed that was different was A House for Hermit Crab was much longer with harder words.  My high group noticed that the hermit crab in A House for Hermit Crab had a lot of friends and seemed friendlier. 

Journal Writing

15 minutes

Usually during independent practice my students are in their differentiated reading groups doing independent activities, where one activity is to write in their journals.  Today they did not write in their journals during the rotation.  Instead they worked on their journals independently as a whole group.  Today to get them started I asked them what was the one thing that all stories had in common.  I gave my students a moment to think about this however I did not allow them to share out loud with a partner or me.  The reason, I told them, was this was like a little test to see if I needed to re-teach them.  (For some reason they like it when I am testing my teaching)

I then instructed my students to think about each story and to write in their journals what all the stories had in common, or what happened that was the same in all stories.  I also directed them to state what their favorite story was and why.  I know this is old school- but First graders like to do that.  The accompanying two videos are examples of student finished responses. In Hermit Crabs Pinch the student does a good job explaining what the stories had in common and the reason why she liked Old Shell, New Shell.  In Favorite Story the student has started her journal, but had not quite finished it.  In a case like this I always have the students verbalize what they want to write and have them finish while I am checking their classmates journals.  By them verbalizing what they want to say helps them focus, or sometimes helps them formulate how they want their words to look on paper.

Ticket Out the Door

5 minutes

For a sticker, at the end of each reading group, my students needed to tell me one thing that was the same in all three stories and one thing different.