The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Of course we read The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle many times during our caterpillar/butterfly theme!  We made caterpillar puppets, colored placemats, and practiced the days of the week.  Our stained glass butterflies also complimented the art from the book too.

Caterpillar Puppets

These caterpillar puppets were lots of fun!  I was inspired by a kit in the Oriental Trading Company’s catalog.  To make them we used: red cardstock, green cardstock (light and dark colored), black paper, green paint, sponges, paper fasteners, black pipe cleaner, and two Popsicle sticks.

Ahead of time, I cut out five circles (one red, two light green, and two dark green).  The girls sponge painted the green circles.  We hadn’t done sponge painting before and they thought it was hilarious.  Then they glued the eyes and nose/mouth (they both called it something different).  I connected the pieces with the paper fasteners so that they can move together then we glued on the pipe cleaner antennas  and the Popsicle stick handles.

Our puppets also went great with the book Balloons Over Broadway, The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade by Melissa Sweet.  We got this book at Thanksgiving time and the girls never let us put it away.  They love reading about the puppets!  It is a great book.  And Tony Sarg, the creator of the famous Macy’s Parade balloons, was actually inspired by a very similar caterpillar puppet.

Placemats

When searching for printouts for The Very Hungry Caterpillar, most were someone else’s drawings, not Eric Carle’s.  I finally found this coloring page.  After talking about the food in the picture, it was actually the girls’ idea to make them placemats.  I just ran each page through the laminator and we’ve been using them for the past week.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar coloring sheet

Days of the Week

For each day during the week we ate the food the caterpillar ate that day as best we could–apples, pears, strawberries, and oranges.  We weren’t able to get plums so we ate prunes instead.  🙂

We also sang this song courtesy of Homeschool Share.  It goes to the tune of the Adam’s Family theme song:

Days of the week (snap, snap), Days of the week (snap, snap)
Days of the week, days of the week, days of the week (snap, snap)
There’s Sunday and there’s Monday
There’s Tuesday and there’s Wednesday
There’s Thursday and there’s Friday
And then there’s Saturday
Days of the week (snap, snap), Days of the week (snap, snap)
Days of the week, days of the week, days of the week (snap, snap)

 

 

Butterfly Fun

I finally have a moment to share some of our activities we did while watching our living butterflies.  With butterflies we seemed to focus on the life cycle of the butterfly and then art activities.

Skills: art, math concepts (pattern making), science, dramatic play
Prep: low
Supplies: tissue paper, construction paper, laminator sleeves or contact paper, magnetic paper, cookie sheets, paper plates, paperfasteners, gluestick, fun foam, clothespin, fun foam decorations, pom pom balls, hot glue gun

Stained glass butterflies

These came out really well!  I just cut up colored tissue paper, but you can even buy pre-cut squares at Michaels.  We were going to make them with contact paper but why buy contact paper when you have an awesome laminator?  🙂  Using the butterfly template included below, I cut out two butterflies from a laminator sleeve (one sleeve makes two copies).  The tissue paper squares will stay on the rough side of the sleeve but the girls still wanted glue so we rubbed a gluestick all over the butterfly.  If you want to add a body, be sure to put that down first so that it will show up on top.  Once the butterfly is covered in tissue paper, then place it in an additional sleeve and run it through the laminator.  Then you can cut out the butterfly and have a pretty stained glass look to hang in the window.

Butterfly template

If you don’t have a laminator, like I mentioned, you can use contact paper.  Just cut out your butterfly, cover the sticky side of one sheet in tissue paper and your body and then place another sheet of contact paper over it.  Press them together and presto!

Pattern-making

We practiced making patterns with these butterfly and caterpillar cards.  Originally I was going to make it a file folder game but then I decided to make it a magnetic game for our cookie sheets.  I printed out these cards on magnetic paper.  Then I would start a pattern on their cookie sheet and the girls would finish the pattern.  They are just getting the hang of patterns so we would say the animals as we laid them down to make sure our pattern matched.

Butterfly and Caterpillar Cards

The girls really enjoyed this!  Mia even made her own pattern at the end.  Well, it was all caterpillars, but she was very proud of herself.  🙂

For younger children just learning about patterns, you can print out two copies of the larger pictures and cut the patterns into strips.  Kids can match the pattern strips.  Or you can print out one sheet of patterns and then have them lay down the cards on top of the patterns.

Butterfly/Caterpillar Pattern Strips

Lifecycle Paper Plate

Having watched the stages of a butterfly up close, we made these wheels out of paper plates to remind us of the different stages.  The girls first colored this worksheet.  Then I cut out the pictures and we glued them to the backside of a paper plate.  I cut out a corner of a second paperplate, to make the top piece, connecting the two with a paperfastner and decorating the title.  The girls like spinning the top around.  And I was so proud when Mia looked down at the handout and said “Pupa!”

Life of a Monarch Butterfly worksheet

Pretend Play

In addition to making our paperplate cycles, we also pretended to be caterpillars and butterflies.  The girls favorite stage was being in their pupa or chrysalis, but that was probably because they got to snuggle in their sleeping bags.  🙂

To learn how butterflies eat, we each used a party blower to be our proboscis.  The girls watched the butterflies uncurl theirs around flowers and then did the same with the party blowers.

Fun Foam Butterflies

These are super easy and super cute!  We are actually using them as little gifts with Mother’s Day coming up.  I used the same butterfly template as the stained glass activity, just a smaller size.  I cut the butterflies out of fun foam, then glued the clothespin to the back.  The girls then decorated them with precut fun foam pieces (we used the Art Deco pack from Walmart) and we added pom poms for the body.

 

 

Setting our butterflies free

We set our butterflies free just the other day!  The girls and I were all a little sad to see them go.  I was also a little surprised at how hard it was to get them to go free–they just wouldn’t fly out of their home at first.  Here is a picture of the girls saying good-bye.

Overall, this has been a really cool project.  The first morning most of the butterflies had hatched from their chrysalis (4 of the 5), the girls stood there talking to them all morning.  They introduced themselves and would sing songs to the butterflies.  It was so cute!  They loved just watching them, which really helped two rambunctious little girls practice being calm and still and observant.

In case you missed it in the Live Caterpillar Fun post, our butterflies first arrived as tiny caterpillars which we ordered through Insect Lore.  They came in a cup with food and a butterfly house as well as directions for feeding and caring for them at each stage.  Five caterpillars were included in the kit; however, one hatched with crumbled wings and didn’t survive very long, which caused the girls to learn even more about the circle of life than originally planned.

In addition to the books we checked out from the library, we really enjoyed Science is Simple. It is the book that gave us the idea to order butterflies and included suggestions for discussion and activities.

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