Addition Card - Cicada Shell

Addition Card - Cicada Shell

What are Cicada Shells?

During the hot summer months, you may have noticed the empty exoskeletons of cicadas clinging to trees or scattered on the ground. These are known as cicada shells or exuviae. When cicadas molt, they shed their old exoskeletons, leaving behind these fascinating remnants.

Why are Kids Fascinated by Cicada Shells?

It's no secret that children are often captivated by the natural world, and cicada shells are no exception. There are several reasons why kids find these discarded exoskeletons so intriguing.

1. The Mystery of Transformation

Witnessing the transformation of a cicada from a nymph to an adult insect is a remarkable sight. Kids are naturally curious about the process of metamorphosis, and finding cicada shells provides them with a tangible example of this incredible transformation.

2. The Element of Surprise

Discovering a cicada shell unexpectedly can be quite surprising for children. The shells are often found in unexpected places, such as on tree trunks, fences, or even attached to clothing. This element of surprise adds to the excitement and intrigue.

3. The Sense of Adventure

Searching for cicada shells becomes an adventure for kids. They embark on a quest to find as many shells as possible, exploring their surroundings and honing their observation skills. This sense of adventure and the thrill of the hunt make cicada shells a favorite summer pastime.

4. The Fascination with Nature's Designs

Cicada shells are intricate and delicate, showcasing the intricate patterns and structures of nature. Kids are drawn to the intricate details of the exoskeletons, marveling at the delicate wings, the segmented body, and the intricate patterns etched into the shell.

Summer is a time for exploration and learning, and what better way to engage children in math education than by incorporating their fascination with nature? One unique and educational activity that can captivate their attention is using cicada shells for addition. This hands-on approach not only makes math more enjoyable but also helps children develop essential skills in problem-solving and critical thinking.

Why are cicada shells a great tool for addition?

Cicada shells are readily available during the summer months, making them a convenient and cost-effective resource for math activities. These discarded exoskeletons provide a tangible representation of numbers, allowing children to visualize and manipulate quantities as they learn addition.

How to create addition cards using cicada shells

To create addition cards using cicada shells, you will need:

  • A collection of cicada shells
  • Cardstock or index cards
  • A marker or pen

1. Start by collecting a variety of cicada shells. You can find them in parks, gardens, or even in your own backyard.

2. Next, cut the cardstock or index cards into small rectangles. These will serve as the base for your addition cards.

3. On each card, write a number using the marker or pen. You can start with simple numbers for beginners and gradually increase the difficulty as children progress.

4. Once you have your number cards ready, it's time to introduce the cicada shells. Assign a specific value to each shell, corresponding to the numbers on the cards. For example, if a card has the number 3, the cicada shell representing that number would be placed next to it.

5. Now, you can begin the addition activity. Select two number cards and place them side by side. Encourage the child to count the cicada shells corresponding to each number and combine them to find the sum.

The benefits of using cicada shells for addition

Using cicada shells for addition offers several benefits for children's math education:

1. Hands-on learning: Manipulating the cicada shells and physically counting them helps children develop a deeper understanding of addition concepts.

2. Visual representation: The shells provide a visual representation of numbers, making it easier for children to grasp the concept of addition.

3. Engagement and motivation: Children are naturally curious about nature, and incorporating cicada shells into math activities taps into their interests, making learning more engaging and motivating.

4. Problem-solving skills: As children work through addition problems using cicada shells, they enhance their problem-solving skills and critical thinking abilities.

5. Connection to the real world: By using a natural object like cicada shells, children can see the relevance of math in their everyday lives, fostering a stronger connection to the subject.

So, this summer, take advantage of the abundance of cicada shells and engage children in a fun and educational math activity. By incorporating these fascinating exoskeletons into addition cards, you can make math come alive and inspire a love for learning in children.

5. The Joy of Collecting

For many children, collecting objects is a source of joy and pride. Cicada shells are easily collectible, and kids can amass a small treasure trove of these unique natural artifacts. The act of collecting and displaying the shells allows children to connect with nature and take pride in their collection.


While cicada shells may seem like ordinary remnants of an insect's life cycle, they hold a special fascination for children. The mystery of transformation, the element of surprise, the sense of adventure, the intricate designs, and the joy of collecting all contribute to the allure of cicada shells. So, the next time you come across these discarded exoskeletons, take a moment to appreciate the wonder they hold for the young explorers among us.

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