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Sunday, August 11, 2013

{Read & Play} The Very Hungry Caterpillar

As Little Man's book collection steadily grows, I keep telling myself that I'm going to start making at least one activity for each of the popular books. I want him to be engaged while I'm reading the story and it seems as though my exaggerated voices and body movements are working as well anymore.

The teacher in me gets pretty excited at the thought of creating little games, but then the mom in me is wondering when I'm going to find time to put these games together.

Today, I'm here to tell you that I put together my first interactive game for one of Little Man's books: The Very Hungry Caterpillar. I probably stayed up a little too late for my own good as I pieced it all together but I was too excited to wait until nap time the next day. Plus, I'm a night owl and do some of my best work and procrastination during the night hours.

Here is a picture of the items I started with:

Clip art of food, empty can, scrapbook paper, book for reference
(not pictured: self-laminating sheets)

And here is a picture of the final product:

He kind of looks like a caterpillar nutcracker, no?

In all actuality, the majority of my time was spent searching for cute clipart to use as the caterpillar food. Since one of my mottos is "work smarter, not harder", I saved it as a printable PDF for you, free of charge, if you'd like to skip that tedious task. ;-)

Click here or on the photo below to get the printable PDF of the caterpillar food.

Everything else involved cutting and pasting. I free-handed everything and didn't do too much measuring, just eyeballed it. I think it turned out nicely. When things looked a little uneven or lopsided, I just kept telling myself it had the "Eric Carle look"...which is totally what I was going for ::ehem:: 
For the mouth, I used an X-Acto knife to cut a slot wide enough for the food to fit in.

For the food, I simply cut it into squares and laminated the pieces. Another option would be to glue pictures onto bottle or milk caps, which makes for easier handling for a little one. However, if you use my PDF, the pictures are not scaled to fit onto a cap.

Feeding the hungry caterpillar some salami.

The first time I introduced this activity to Little Man, I handed him the appropriate food each time. Gradually, I started letting him do more of the work. For example, I would place 3 different foods in front of him and then ask him to feed the caterpillar a slice of cheese.

There are plenty of other teachable moments to have with this book and the activity. You can have your child pick which food needs to be fed to the caterpillar next. The child can put the food cards in order based on the order of the pictures in the book. Children can learn the names of different types of foods and sort them into groups (by category, color, taste).You can teach a variety of words to a younger child (i.e "feed the caterpillar", "the caterpillar wants more", "I think the caterpillar is hungry", etc). For older children, you can work on counting and days of the week. Little Man enjoyed the munching sound effects I made as he shoved the food into the caterpillar's mouth. He then would say, "Mmmmm mm!"

Waiting while the caterpillar sleeps.

On the flip side of the can is the caterpillar's cocoon. Once I had pieced together the caterpillar's body, I traced it onto a sheet of brown paper. At this point during the reading of the story, I put one of Little Man's toy butterflies into the can (while it was behind my back or when he wasn't looking). I then slowly pulled the butterfly out of the can. Little Man was pretty impressed with that 'trick'. The butterfly isn't pictured above because I had not yet dug the butterfly out of his packed away toys. Props to the Mr. for helping me get the box from a very hard-to-reach location. The butterfly was actually one of his baby toys, hence the reason it was packed away. Oy...

If you don't have a butterfly toy, you can always let your child make one with a clothespin and tissue. That would make the perfect follow-up activity after reading the story! "Gee, I wish we had a butterfly to come out of the you want to help me make one??"

This photo is blurry but I had to post it. After the story, Little Man
found his caterpillar doll and started feeding it corn.

It's my hope that I'll have many more posts in the future involving book activities that encourage both reading and real play.

Also linked up at On Display Monday

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