There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Shell

Title: There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Shell!

Author: Lucille Colondro

Age: Preschool, Early Elementary

Description: This story follows the same sequence as the little old lady who swallowed a fly. However, this is a beach theme, with the little old lady swallowing sand, water,  sea gulls and more.


  • Sequencing
  • Early Narrative Skills
  • Beach Vocabulary
  • Why questions
  • Phonological Awareness (rhyming)

Why I like this book: The absurdity of the story itself, always hooks kids.  Especially the “burping” and “throwing up” concept that happens in the story.  A great summer read, as many kids spend lots of time at the beach.

Ideas for use:

  • Photo copy the pages, and have children put the story in order after reading it.
  • Use cut out pictures from magazine, or Boardmaker software pictures of the various parts (shell, crab, seagull, etc.), and have them place in order as it happens in the story to keep them engaged
  • Highlight “why” questions when reading this story. Why did she swallow the crab? (so it will live in the shell!)
  • Have children attempt to fill in the blank of the rhyming word when reading (i.e. I don’t know why she swallowed the shell…she didn’t____ (tell)). See if they can generate other words that rhyme with the target.
  • A great story to discuss beach vocabulary, or water animals (crabs, lobsters, sharks, etc.). See if kids can generate what they would bring to the beach and what they would see. Use big paper and have them draw and generate a beach scene.
  • Do a simple beach craft with simple sequencing (i.e. make a crab or shell out of a paper plate, make a starfish and cover with ‘real” sand, etc.). Focus on the sequence and include temporal markers (first, next, then, etc.). You can even take digital pics of the child doing each of the steps. Print and send home- a great sequential and personal narrative task.
  • Create their own “There Was an Old Lady book…. Have them think of a “final” product like the sand castle (i.e. a birthday cake, a tree house, etc.) and what “parts” she would have to swallow (i.e. the flour, frosting, candles, etc.). Kids love to think of ways to have her “throw up” like in this story.

Submitted by: Meghan G. Graham M.S. CCC-SLP

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