The artistic style of Eric Carle is instantly recognisable in the many children's books he has written and illustrated -- "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" included. "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" is a story which allows for many interactive activities and lessons coordinated by parents or teachers for subjects from mathematics to science to art.
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In the story, the child traces the eating habits of one very hungry caterpillar as the caterpillar embarks on a journey to transform from caterpillar to a beautiful butterfly. Draw, cut images from magazines, or print pictures of the foods found in the book using a template (see Resources) and glue the images to index cards. Allow the child to arrange the foods in the sequence the foods are consumed in the story. In addition to sequencing the foods eaten, draw or cut images from a magazine of the different stages in a caterpillar's development and glue the images to index cards. Allow the child to place the images in the correct order.
Teachers or parents can order live caterpillars from mail order or online stores and have them shipped to the school or home. Teach the child about the development of a caterpillar and what the caterpillar undergoes in order to become a butterfly. Use "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" to refer to as the live caterpillar progresses through its life journey. Have the child observe and draw what he sees during each of the developmental stages.
Use the story as an opportunity to explore the senses. The very hungry caterpillar eats an apple, pears, blueberries, strawberries, a leaf, oranges, cake, an ice cream cone, a pickle, cheese, salami, a lollipop, a pie, sausage, a cupcake and a watermelon. Chop bite size pieces of all of these food items and place one piece of each into baking cups or onto a paper plate for each child. Eat the different foods and discuss how they feel, look, smell and taste. If the children can write, allow them to describe these sensory experiences. While tasting the foods, lessons on colours and shapes can also be incorporated into the sensory lesson.
Caterpillar and Butterfly Sun Catcher Crafts
Use the story as the foundation for crafty art. Cut cardboard egg cartons so that each child has a strip of five egg cups. This will be the caterpillar's body. Paint the egg cup/caterpillar with tempera paints and allow the paint to dry. Use school glue to attach pom-poms, googly eyes and any other embellishment desired by the children to decorate their caterpillars. Cut a pipe cleaner into two pieces measuring 2-inches long. Curl one end of each piece around a pencil. These are antenna. Poke the uncurled end of each pipe cleaner piece through the egg carton at the caterpillar's head. An adult should squirt a drop of hot glue inside the egg carton head over the pipe cleaner end to secure the antenna.
You can also make a butterfly sun catcher while discussing how the caterpillar transforms into a butterfly. Fold a piece of 8 1/2-inches wide by 11-inches long tissue paper like a fan and fold it in half. Paint a wood clothespin to resemble a butterfly body. Insert the dry, painted clothes pin over the centre of the fan (at the halved fold line). Cut two 2-inch pieces of pipe cleaner and glue them to the top of the clothespin as antennae. Tie a piece of yarn around the butterfly's middle and hang it in a window.
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