More than 30 million copies of Eric Carle's book "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" have been sold around the world, captivating children with a charming story about an insect's transformation from egg to butterfly. Teachers can choose from many lesson plans based on the story for classroom use, and parents can do simple activities relating to the book at home with their children.
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After the hungry little caterpillar hatches from his egg, he eats his way through a number of foods each day, such as one apple, two pears and three plums. To help children practice their counting skills, refrain from reading the numbers on each page, allowing your silence to prompt their participation. Once they've piped up with the appropriate response, such as four strawberries, take time to let them count each item before moving on to the next page. After five oranges on Friday, the book jumps to the caterpillar eating 10 items on Saturday. Before moving on to the 10 items, ask the children to list the numbers between five and 10.
Carle's book also lists the weekdays in order as the caterpillar eats through one more item each day. While reading the book, wait before reading each day of the week until the children prompt you with the appropriate response. After finishing the book, ask the children to again list the days of the week in order. Reread various pages out of order, and ask the children which day comes before and after. The caterpillar spends two weeks in his cocoon before emerging as a butterfly. Introduce the concept that a week has seven days.
Healthy Eating Activities
As the hungry little caterpillar begins his week of eating, he chomps his way through different fruits. When he gets to Saturday, he gorges himself on 10 different items, including dairy products, meats and sweets. Teach kids about the food groups and unhealthy snacks by reading each item and then waiting for the children to decide if it is nutritious choice or a treat. For example, the piece of chocolate cake would be a treat whereas the slice of watermelon would be nutritious. Expand the lesson by asking children to think about other foods not mentioned in the text, such as a carrot on Monday instead of an apple.
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