Fun warm-up game. Introduces the hermit crab and makes children think about the consequences of removing shells from the shore, as well as habitat carrying capacity, adaptation and predation.


Area of soft sand or grass – Also works inside for example in a hall


Space, cleared of obstacles

Relevance and Aims:

Running the Activity:

Half of the group are crabs and half are shells (if there is an odd number, a grown-up may have to join in as a shell!).
Shells – Stand in a row, bent forward, using their arms to make an opening
Crabs – put their hands behind their backs and crawl on hands and feet in a crab position. Start off away from the shells, possibly behind a starting line.
How to play

Begin by explaining what hermit crabs are and why it is important that they find a shell for protection when they grow.
The leader says ‘go’ and all crabs have to find a shell and get inside them by crawling underneath their open arms.

After the first round, everyone should have a shell and be happy. Then explain to them that you are a shell collector and you are collecting shells from the beach and take one ‘shell’ away. All crabs must then move away from the shells and start again. There will be one crab left with no home. Ask the group to think about what would happen to this crab, it would be eaten, or may have to move to another area. This crab is out and another shell is removed, continue taking a shell every round until only one is left. (In a similar way to musical chairs) This is the winner.

When one round is finished, make sure you swap over so that crabs become shells and shells become crabs. You can use this game to explain several different principals, depending on the age of the participants and the theme of the day.

Ocean Literacy Links