Welcome Spring and Celebrate America's Favorite Caterpillar!

Very Hungry Caterpillar Day - March 20, 2024

By Sara Yaniga, Macaroni Kid Chicago (Midtown) March 5, 2024

Spring has (finally) arrived and today is also The Very Hungry Caterpillar Day so in honor of the occasion I have rounded up some fun ways to enjoy this day with your kids. 

This board book, written in 1969, sells at a pace which is mind-boggling.  I read that one copy is purchased approximately every 30 seconds somewhere in the world. Grab your copy of the book, some art supplies and keep reading for some fun activities for kids of all ages!  Don't have a copy handy?  Check out this great video of Eric Carle reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  

Fun Fact: This is Carle's first book and originally it was about a bookworm!

Listen to Eric Carle read The Very Hungry Caterpillar (Youtube)

Sensory Bin Play

To make the filler for this bin I used a simple mixture of green food coloring, a little rubbing alcohol and some rice that I had on hand.  I dumped it all in a gallon sized storage bag, mixed it up and then spread it out on parchment paper in a thin single layer.  While I was waiting for the green rice to dry I scrounged around our art bins and came up with some beads, pipe cleaners, craft sticks, pom poms and turned half of an egg carton into a sorting and counting tray.  I counted out the beads that I put in the bin by color - 1 red, 2, green, 3 purple, 4 pink, 5 orange and 6 blue.  I will let my youngest discover the bin on her own and play independently before giving any sort of direction or guidance for sorting and counting (if at all).

Play Dough Caterpillars

This is a super simple activity that can be done to create a caterpillar out of a very few supplies.  I set out red and green dough, a short piece of pipe cleaner and two google eyes.  I like to see how my kids will respond to the suggestion of "make a caterpillar using the supplies".  Will they make individual ball to create the body or will they create one long body and head? Or perhaps a combo of both? 

Egg Carton Caterpillar

This activity has been around FOREVER.  I remember doing this myself as a kid and that was decades ago!  I prefer to use the cardboard egg cartons, but the styrofoam ones will work too.  Simply cut the egg cup bottom of the carton into two strips, flip it over and paint.  I made mine to look like the red and green caterpillar from the story, but it can be whatever one imagines.

Scissors and Circles Caterpillar Art

This one just needs paper in various colors, a pair of scissor and some glue.  I used light green paper for grassorange for the warm sun, dark green and red for the circles. Let your child practice their scissor skills by helping to create sun rays and blades of grass by clipping the edges of the orange and light green papers. The circles for the actual caterpillar may be frustrating, but I encourage you to let your child try it on their own.  They may not be perfect, but that is okay.

Thumbprint Caterpillars

Perhaps as easy as they come, but keep a sink or wipe handy because this one may leave you with an ink covered hand.  All you need for this activity is a piece of white paper (I used an index card) and an ink pad.  Press your fingers in the ink and then onto the paper.  Viola! Instant and adorable caterpillar at your fingertips.  This can make for a very sweet bookmark too. 

Tell Me a Story

This activity was the most time consuming to prep because I wanted to draw some key parts of the story to aid in a retelling without the physical book.  For this set up I used index cards/white paper, white paper plate, crayons, paint, paintbrush, scissors and clothespins. I first used the paint and paper plates to create the first two pages from the story - "In the light of the moon" and "on a Sunday".  While those dried I used my crayons and white index cards to quickly draw everything he ate in the story (OH the belly ache he must have had!), cut them out and attach to clothespins. I also made his "cocoon" (chrysalis) and when he turned into a beautiful butterfly.  These I will use to help tell the story to my kids and then encourage them to do the same to each other, or back to us parents.

Looking for More?  We have you covered!

Celebrate Very Hungry Caterpillar Day with Penguin Kids (Instagram) - hop over to Instagram and check out the various activities planned for the day by the folks at Penguin Kids.

Eric Carle Author Study (Scholastic) - This is a great way to get the older kids participating in the fun and learn more about author and artist Eric Carle.  I find the process he describes for creating his tissue paper collages fascinating.

Free downloads and printable from Eric Carle

Free resources from Chicago's Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum