Home, Sweet Home (?)


When I saw the little cardboard box and heard the scratching inside, I knew I was in trouble.  Especially because the box was in the hands of my best friend.  My first graders had just gone home for the day, I was worn out, and the look on my friend’s face was all too familiar.  “You’re going to love this!” was all  I  needed to hear.  I just groaned.  In an instant the box was open, and before my eyes, out came… “What is it?” I nearly shrieked.  Deni ignored my outburst.  “It’s just a little hermit crab.  Isn’t it kind of cute?  Look, I have a cage and everything you need.  Your class will love it!”  I just groaned.

Hermit_Crab A

Well, my class did love it.  Boy, did they love it. “Shelly” liked peanut butter along with the hermit crab food, liked to crawl around on leaves, sticks and out in the grass on the playground.  The kids took turns on weekends taking the crab home.  They even colored a bright  little sign to hang over the cage that read, “Home, Sweet H0me.”  When the crab was in the water, it would ease a little out of its shell, which always caused great excitement. After many months we realized Shelly needed a larger shell and the hunt was on. Everyone pitched in, bringing in new ones to see which would be selected.  Reading the book,  A House for Hermit Crab was such a delight!  It was soon our class favorite.

Since that day, I will confess, I have done a lot more groaning.  But I’ve also done a lot more growing.  I’ve had so many “Home, Sweet Homes” in my classrooms that I have almost lost count.  Let’s see – there have been incubators with eggs, and then of course, chicks; a snake, which got loose a number of times and had us searching through children’s  desks;  countless butterfly gardens,  a gecko (rather colorful, but I never got the nerve to handle); an ant farm, and numerous turtles.  Thanks to my friend Deni, who bought me that first hermit crab,  classroom pets have brought some of the most delightful and lasting memories of my years of teaching.  Watching the children interact and learn to take responsibility was invaluable.   I learned to not groan, but to accept the scratching in the boxes, to hunt for the lost snakes, and to realize that all of God’s creatures deserve a “Home, Sweet Home.”

This month we look forward to sharing a variety of “Home” books with you.  They may not be your typical books about homes, but we assure you that you’ll want to curl up and get a copy for yourselves.  Exploring another’s home always leads to a great adventure! Come and join us!

Mary Byrne Kline