Counting, colors, tactile stimulation, science, sequence, plot… The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle has it all. Is it any wonder that this classic book has been a favorite of parents and littles alike for almost 50 years? It has traveled around the world in at least 40 languages and has been made into toys, games, plays, and even a short animated film that you can watch on YouTube. (Showing books-turned-movies to your littles is so sneaky, and I love it!)
My first son has always been drawn to books of the construction vehicle genre, but even he likes the cadence and colors of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. At the ripe old age of three, he can now “read” it to his younger brother. I’m telling you, this book just gets better and better.
As you can tell by all of the ways The Very Hungry Caterpillar has already been adapted, it lends itself well to extending into kid-friendly projects. The science lessons alone are a perfect launchpad for a “school project.” We chose to get crafty. Out came the egg cartons, the paint (washable, of course), assorted pom poms and googly eyes, pipe cleaners, and card stock for the butterfly transformation. (I have to admit that I have not been a very crafty mom since the birth of my second child. If you are reading this and saying, “Uh, uh girl, no way!” just know that this is about as simple of an art project as it gets. You got this, mama.)
With paint involved, I made this an outside deck project and stripped the baby down to his diaper. Water tables work great for cleanup afterwards! My three-year-old loved painting the caterpillars and his focused concentration was inspiring. We let them dry until the baby went to bed that night, so I could have uninterrupted craft time with my preschooler. This was the exciting part. Which would become butterflies and which would remain caterpillars?
- One egg carton for every two caterpillars or butterflies (cut in half lenthwise)
- Two pieces of 8-1/2 x 11 inch paper or cardstock for each butterfly
- Washable paint
- Pipe Cleaners
- Googly Eyes
- Other assorted craft supplies like pom poms, glitter paint, etc.
For the Caterpillars:
- Paint egg carton bodies and let dry.
- Glue googly eyes to the front of the head (facing forward).
- Use pipe cleaners cut in half to thread through holes in the body to make legs.
- (Optional) Accentuate each body section by gluing a pom pom (pom?) to the top of each.
For the Butterflies:
- Paint egg carton bodies and let dry.
- Glue googly eyes to the top of the head (facing upward).
- Use one pipe cleaner to thread through holes in the head to make the antenna.
- Print off the free butterfly wing templates (see below), cut around the outside line, and decorate with crayons, markers, glitter paint, pom poms, etc.
- Attach wings to body with staples. (This didn’t work so well for me, so I stapled the two wings together, punched holes in the paper on either side of the body, and threaded a pipe cleaner through the holes, around the body, twisting the ends together in back. These wings may rip, but they won’t fall off!)
All in all, this was a fun and easy craft, and my three-year-old loved it. He’s played with them for days after, flying the butterflies around the room and making sure he keeps them out of the baby’s reach. For a kid who doesn’t pay much attention to animal themes, this activity was a hit.
Here are your free printables! (Personal use only. I made them in both blue and black ink if you are like me and always have an empty ink cartridge!)
On to lunch! We can’t talk about The Very Hungry Caterpillar without talking food. Food drives the plot in this book, and kids love it. Structuring it by days of the week, the first five food groups focus on practicing colors and counting, incorporating a different fruit for each day. The sixth day is for the laughs. The hungry caterpillar resembles a pregnant woman and her crazy cravings as it plows through cheese, pickles, ice cream, pie, sausages, and more. Wait for the giggles. On day seven, our caterpillar settles into himself and eats proper caterpillar food.
The stage has been set for some interesting meals. For a hot second, I contemplated eating through the book in a day (minus the leaf). What then would I have learned from this gastronomic explorer if I didn’t heed his warning of the horrible stomachache? That would do a disservice to the author, so we opted to stick to the healthy fruit (with one exception), and we made a yummy Very Hungry Caterpillar inspired fruit salad, perfect for your own little hungry caterpillars.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar Fruit Salad
- 1 apple, cored and diced
- 2 pears, cored and diced
- 3 plums, pitted and diced
- 4 strawberries, hulled and sliced
- 5 oranges, (make it easy on yourself and use mandarin slices)
- (optional) one cup of melted ice cream in the flavor of your choice (we used vanilla)
Mix all fruit together and stir in the ice cream “dressing.” Serve as a picnic lunch, and don’t forget to drop a few pieces in the grass for the neighborhood caterpillars!
Pin this for a rainy day!