Valentines for Hermit Crabs

Maybe it’s the shorter days. Maybe it’s the winter blues.

Or in my case, maybe its the I-got-out-of-winter-but-sprained-my ankle-on-my-vacation-to-Florida-without-my-kids blues.

The boys have been happy with legos and board games and puzzles and frankly, more Sponge Bob than is good for them. We’ve made up some good stories and a few great forts, but haven’t been creating much else.

To kick off some Valentine’s Day crafts, I picked up some cute heart shaped window gels and some pipe cleaners I thought we could turn into hearts. Nearly a week has gone by and here are the boys’ window displays:

heart windows

Do you see that clear rectangle outline around the hearts? That is actually the plastic sheet the gels come loaded on. They didn’t even have the decency to peel off the gels one by one. Just peeled off one side and pressed it to the window. Noah at least moved some of his gels around so at least we have a little layering going on.

So many gorgeous Valentine images and ideas on the ‘net (you can see some of my favorites here). I’m not boycotting but I’m not pushing the Valentine’s theme in our house. The kids have some ideas for their class Valentines and I think we have a foot or two of snow heading our way to give us plenty of time to work on those.

After a fruitless effort with the Valentines’ agenda, I’m following the boys’ leads. On my mornings home with Noah (with a sprained ankle, remember, this means no running errands), this means we finish a jigsaw puzzle only to crush it up, stick it back in the box and start another. Then board games. Then read some books, which always seems to include his favorite: Eric Carle’s A House for Hermit Crab.

This amazing little story tells of a hermit crab who decorates his shell until it is just right, only to find within a year, he has outgrown his shell and needs to find a new one. Crabs really do this – apparently my science education ended in preschool, because I had no idea before reading this book. There’s lots of lovely lessons, big and small, about making a home and the sad, but exciting wonder of moving on. A friend mentioned that someone gave this book to her children when they were moving – so perfect.

Hermit Crab Excerpt

Noah loves this story and can recite most of it – the cutest of which comes on the last page when hermit crab is looking at the blank slate of his new shell and thinks of all the “possibilities.” “Sea sponges!,” Noah yells along with Hermit Crab, “Barnacles! Clownfish! Sand Dollars! Electric Eels!”

“Want to make our own house for hermit crab?” I said to Noah after the second reading. I cut a snail-like swirl into a paper plate as I had seen when I googled/pinterest-searched house for hermit crab crafts a few weeks ago.

Then we made a crab out of those meant-for-Valentines’ pipe cleaners.

The Crab

Every crab needs a parasol, right? That was Noah’s touch, along with the goggly eyes.

Noah went page by page in the book and we talked about what Hermit Crab was adding to his house and how we could add them to our paper shell. I led with a sea anemone cut out of paper and a starfish drawn on the house. When we got to coral, Noah told me that coral is hard and doesn’t move (a direct quote from the book, but I was still very impressed). We wrapped a straw with lots of yellow tape and made some branches. Page by page, we worked through snails and lantern fish and seas urchins, talking about which were soft and which were spiny and how we could make each one.

Hermit Crab's House

Noah was very focused on making this house and wants to make Hermit Crab’s new house next (will be googling barnacles shortly).

A few readers have mentioned how hard it is to find time to create with their kids, amid busy schedules and all the hectic to-dos of our lives. It was frustrating to try to fit in my forced Valentines crafting, but I tell you making a house for hermit crab was such a pleasure for both of us. It took about 15 very special minutes. Plus another five when we had to read the book through once more.

If you sometimes don’t know where to start or an activity fails to capture your kid’s interest like my window gels, just google or do a pinterest search on your child’s favorite book (or movie or TV show). I bet there’s a teacher out there who has already thought of a craft or activity for it. They’ve done the work, just file it away so you are ready to bring the story to life in your playroom the next time your child opens that book.

In the words of one smart hermit crab “Oh, there are so many possibilities! I can’t wait to get started!

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  1. Amy says:

    I love it! Noah will have to come visit our real hermit crab soon. :)

  2. Kim Shaffer says:

    Love this idea. I better get started and buy the book given we are moving… when? Once we have a school plan and can join Will in Seattle. : )

  3. Papa says:

    You guys are so creative


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