Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Fun with Eric Carle books

"By helping children get hooked on books today, we are working to prevent illiteracy in the future." This statement by Dave Page, reading expert for Family Literacy of Frontier College is undeniably true. But how do we get kids hooked on books? How do we make reading fun and engaging?

Here is a wonderful interactive activity for The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, published in 1969. Prepare the story by (1) cutting large apple shapes (approx. 8"x 5") from red felt or thick paper, orange shapes from orange felt, etc. continuing with the other foods as described in the book. (2) Cut a circle in each food shape large enough for a hand to pass through. (3) Die a sock green, add google eyes, pipe cleaner antennas, etc. for a caterpillar puppet. (4) Use form core or poster board to cut butterfly wings. (5) Color with markers or decorate the wings with tissue paper art inspired by Eric Carle's illustrations. (6) Cut a hole in the center big enough for a hand to pass through.

Present the story by (1) passing out the food shapes and sock caterpillar to various students. (2) Read the story as the caterpillar sock puppet walks around the room eating food. (3) As each food is eaten invite the students to say, "munch, munch, munch" and slide their food over the head of the caterpillar and onto the arm. When the caterpillar falls sleep, (4) cover the student's felt food arm in brown paper towels. And finally, (5) as the caterpillar wakes up, slide the wings over the caterpillar head. TaDa! Your story has come to a satisfying and magnificent conclusion. Your students and children will love feeding the caterpillar and revealing the beautiful butterfly wings. Repeat the story, allowing children to change parts, reinforcing the many concepts taught in this book. Once this story has been prepared it can be enjoyed year after year.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar is one of more than 70 children's books written and/or illustrated by Eric Carle. It has many teachable concepts such as the days of the week, the life cycle of a caterpillar, healthy foods and more. Using the above activity, this book also teaches self-confidence, cooperation, improvisation, patience and more. Mr. Carle, born in New York, raised in Germany, currently splits his time between the waters of the Florida Keys and the hills of North Carolina. Now 82, Eric Carle is still at work creating art, writing stories and encouraging others. He says, "I can do it, you can do it." Learn more about Eric Carle, his new books and DVD, on his website

If you live in the Oviedo, Florida area, come to the Barnes and Noble in the Oviedo Mall this Saturday, September 8th, to see another Eric Carle book, The Very Busy Spider, presented as an interactive FREE puppet show. This puppet show is being presented as a part of a Literacy Alliance fundraiser. Shop at any Barnes and Noble (excluding college Barnes and Noble) on September 8th or online September 8-13 and a percentage of your sales will benefit our organization. More information can be found on our website:

Leave a comment. Describe your favorite Eric Carle story or activity.