We discuss a theoretical formulation of shell model accounting for through-the-thickness stretching, which allows for large deformations and direct use of 3d constitutive equations. Three different possibilities for implementing this model within the framework of the finite element method are examined: one leading to 7 nodal parameters and the remaining two to 6 nodal parameters. The 7-parameter shell model with no simplification of kinematic terms is compared to the 7-parameter shell model which exploits usual simplifications of the Green–Lagrange strains. Two different ways of implementing the incompatible mode method for reducing the number of parameters to 6 are presented. One implementation uses an additive decomposition of the strains and the other an additive decomposition of the deformation gradient. Several numerical examples are given to illustrate performance of the shell elements developed herein.