Welcome to "Little Red Hen and Friends." We hope you find ideas and activities to share with children of all ages and abilities.

Monday, August 29, 2011

A Hermit Crab as an Animal Pet Partner?

People and Pet Partners come in all different shapes, sizes and colors.  This was never more true then the day that our friend the Louis the Hermit Crab visited the classroom.  Louis is no ordinary hermit crab.  He has a special shell unlike any of those you run across on the boardwalk or in beach towns.  Louis who is named after "Louis Braille," has a full braille cell on his shell.
 Louis visited shortly before some early childhood students with visual impairments and multiple disabilities were getting ready to move from their classroom in one building to another classroom in a completely separate building. This was a little difficult considering how much the students depended on their familiar routines.  Louis completely understands moving as he does it often and to share his point he brought along the book Moving Day.  

Using the program Switch It Maker 2 a social story was created and shared with the students on the interactive whiteboard.  This was used during a group language time to introduce the topic of moving.  Photographs of the student's current classroom were used along with photographs of the student's future classroom.

Students were able to read a long with the story with either an individual braille/print copy or a switch activated copy on the interactive whiteboard that was also made using Switch It Maker 2.

Louis not only addressed the social and emotional issues that he felt when moving from "shell/home to shell/home," he also helped introduce some great descriptive words (adjectives.)  The students were very happy to investigate all the different textures of the sea shells.

 Students were able to explore the different shells and their attributes.  Placing the large print/braille words on a black background helps create a nice color contrast.  Using trays to hold the shells support organization skills.

Students selected from cards that described their shell.  Using the card reader with a tactile graphic the student was able to feel and hear their selection.

 Once the student decided which texture, rough, fancy or smooth they had the opportunity to "color" their own personalized hermit crab.  The outline of the hermit crab was raised using Pictures in a Flash (PIAF) tactile graphics creator.
Students used scented markers with this built up handle (a piece of a pool noodle) for physical access to color their picture.  Switch users used this marker holder, when the student activates the switch the lady bug holding the marker moves around the paper to "color" the hermit crabs shell.

Lines from the story book were recorded on this voice output device  paired with a textured picture symbol created in Mayer-Johnson's Boardmaker program.

Extension activities were created by making our very own Hermit Crab out of felt and placing that on top of a switch toy that we already owned.  One student activated the switch to have the hermit crab move, push, knock-over the boxes.

A second played the song with the lyrics "You've got to move it, move it," by activating a switch with the tactile symbol for music placed on it.

Hand held optical devices were used to investigate Louis' spectacular shell.

Who knew one small hermit crab could be the ambassador to all those wonderful learning opportunities.  Having an animal pet partner encourages the students to be active participants in their learning experience.


  1. What an awesome "lesson plan"! Is this something you created for your classroom?

    I'm also very interested in integrating animals into education and the health care field. I'm hoping to use animals as a physical therapist to help people to get well faster. If you're interested, my blog is http://animalshelpheal.blogspot.com/