Life is More Beautiful with The Very Hungry Caterpillar…
If I were to list my top 10 books, I’d say 9 out of the 10 would be children’s books. I’m not even a little bit embarrassed about how excited I get talking about brilliant children’s authors that I respect highly…Pamela Allen, Mem Fox, Julia Donaldson…and of course Eric Carle.
For now I’ll focus on Mr Carle and one of his most amazing stories ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’, which was first published in 1969!
I don’t think I’m alone in saying how many powerfully memorable, happy moments this book has given me through all my years of teaching. What I have found is that this book is so universal and that it doesn’t matter the language that you speak, the city you are living in, or how old you are…’The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ is guaranteed to bring a big smile on your face.
A conversation I always had with my children was “do you need to be able to read, or have a book to tell a story?”. The answer always started off as yes…but through the course of the year, they were telling me the story, and very rarely did we need the book itself.
While I was completing my undergrad in teaching, for one of my pracs I had to prepare my own resources. So after a visit to the fabric shop, I came home and spent hours cutting out every single piece of fruit, and using a hole puncher created the holes, and glued the stems…I’m not going to lie, it didn’t look very good at all, but the children loved it and truthfully that’s all that really matters!
The following year Google had become quite popular (and a lifesaver) as I discovered DLTK, and is still a website I access for great resources. I came across these printables and I can’t express how fantastic they are. I’ll print them out and laminate them, and you can add either magnetic or Velcro dots to the back. Every Educator I have ever worked with has had to hear the genuine excitement in my voice as I go on and on about how great they are. Here is the link: http://www.dltk-teach.com/books/hungrycaterpillar/felt_fun.htm
And here are some examples that my Speech Therapist colleague put together…I know too cute!!
So in amongst my searches I did find another website that has the templates for the feltboard pieces (note, mine looked nothing like these!!). http://www.lavendersbluedesigns.com/diy-very-hungry-caterpillar-felt-book-free-printable/
A couple years ago I taught an incredible group of 4-5 year olds, not that we are supposed to have favourites but this was really a beautiful group of children that I will never forget, and one of the reasons was due to the End of Year Concert we put together. The credit goes entirely to them. During rest time the children used the printables to tell the story of ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ over and over to each other, it got to the point that I’d sit with the children for group time while they took turns.
It was during this time that I realised for our End of Year Concert it made sense to do a play to their favourite story. Here, a huge project began where ALL of the children were involved. We pulled names out of a hat, and all the children were assigned a piece of fruit or food. To the children were had really come out of their shells I allocated as the caterpillar, the butterfly and narrator.
Together we talked about what resources we would need and the children created the leaf, the moon, and finally our biggest masterpiece – the cocoon and butterfly wings. Actually, one of the children noted that butterflies don’t come out of cocoons and rather a chrysalis that they decided would be green. The parents were then involved with the costumes and they really went all out…every step of the way, the children were 100% involved.
We practiced this play every day, and words can’t describe how proud I was of them. Not one child was nervous, not one single tear was shed (well, myself and my co-teacher did as they did such an amazing job).
My highlight was when they asked me to be the butterfly as they thought I deserved a chance to be in the play too…I think my face sums it up pretty well as to how happy I was to have a turn!