Spend an entire week with one story! Story Stretchers are activities you can do with your students that will help children learn new vocabulary and recall favorite phrases long after a story has been put back on the shelf. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle is an excellent favorite children’s book to use for an entire week with daily follow-up activities. Parents will be amazed at all the learning that can occur in your classroom when story themes and vocabulary are reinforced throughout the week and learning is extended when children’s curiosity is encouraged. Here are some activities to use with The Hungry Caterpillar for a whole week. For more ideas, see Story Stretchers: Activities to Expand Children’s Favorite Books by Shirley C. Raines & Robert J. Canady (1989).
Caterpillar Art—Tissue Paper Art
The children will construct a tissue paper caterpillar while at the same time develop fine motor skills by tearing, crumpling and gluing the tissue paper in the form of a caterpillar.
• Colored tissue paper
• Construction paper
Directions: Allow children to tear and crumple the tissue paper into pieces. Paste the pieces on a piece of construction paper in the form of a caterpillar in the story. Ask the children to tell their friends about their caterpillar and what their caterpillar likes to eat.
The children will learn how to make a caterpillar using socks and use it to retell the story. Once a child learns to be creative in this way, the world of imagination is at their fingertips and children may learn to become better writers when they have the foundation of making up their own stories.
• Fabric Glue
• Felt scraps
• Pipe cleaners
• Pom poms or googly eyes
Directions: Have students ball up newspapers (fine motor skills again! This helps them to be able to control their fingers when they are writing.) and stuff their socks. Use 3-4 pipe cleaners to create the body sections. Glue on pom poms for eyes with fabric glue.
The children will learn to identify, prepare, and eat some of the fruits that “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” ate in the story.
• Oranges, etc.
Have students participate in the activity by washing the fruits and cutting them to share with class (with plastic child safe knives of course!). This is an excellent opportunity to count pieces of fruit and discuss healthy snacks. It may be fun to provide a straw so each child can “punch” a caterpillar hole through the fruit before they eat the fruit. Allow the children to dramatize the story and talk about how much the caterpillar enjoyed the fruit, guess which food was the caterpillar’s favorite, and then follow the children’s lead as they talk about the caterpillar and the story.
The children will learn to observe a caterpillar in its habitat and observe how it moves.
• Magnifying glasses
Locate caterpillars in a wooded area and make a habitat in the terrarium using materials found in the woods. Children can study the movements of the caterpillar, draw what they see, take surveys about the actions of the caterpillar, etc. Place additional reading materials in the area for those that are interested in learning more about the different types of caterpillars. After a few days, return the caterpillar to a similar habitat outdoors. This is a good opportunity to model gentle touches and talk about allowing creatures in nature remain in their natural homes.
The children will learn to retell the story in sequential order using the story book and flannel board and felt pieces that resemble the food (or at least the colors) in the book.
• Colored felt circles/shapes OR paper shapes
• Flannel board OR wall/bulletin board
Use the flannel board (or wall/bulletin board) pieces during story time and for play during center choice play. Allow children to retell the story or use their imagination to tell their story in a different way. Children learn so many vocabulary words when they are allowed to tell stories of their own!