Thursday, May 31, 2012

Artistic Masterpiece: The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Read It. Move It. Share It. 
With spring winding down and summer just around the corner, dance educator Maria Hanley and I are exploring the classic picture book The Very Hungry Caterpillar by legendary author and illustrator Eric Carle. It's part of our monthly collaboration in which I recommend a picture book for Maria to use in her creative movement classes and then we both share our experiences with the book. 

The Very Hungry Caterpillar, which was published more than 40 years ago, is the first children's book I remember having as a child. When I think about other picture books and board books published around the same time, this one stands out so much in its creative design and universal appeal. 

I may be living in a cocoon of sorts (i.e., my own little world of children's books), but I can't imagine that anyone has not heard of this wonderful book, which tells the story of how a caterpillar becomes a butterfly in such a delightful--and delicious--way. A true artistic least in my book! 

Just in case I really am living in a cocoon (which is entirely possible) and you haven't heard of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, the best way to describe it is to simply "show" it to you. It just so happens that Barnes & Noble is featuring the book on its "Online Storytime" this month. Click here and you can see some of the collage art from the book and hear Eric Carle read the whole story. 

I also found a great video on YouTube of Eric Carle talking about the process of creating the book, the educational themes that run through the book, and the personal meaning that the book holds for him.

So why recommend this book for a creative movement class? That's a good question! I can't say the book is overflowing with movement words, but there are some good ones in there--like "looking" for food, "building" a house, and "pushing" out of a cocoon. Plus, the story is so simple that students could easily act it out using some of these words. I bet a lot of children would enjoy building a cocoon, and I know my favorite part would be turning into a butterfly. 

Oh, wait. Maybe my favorite part would be eating through one piece of chocolate cake, one ice-cream cone, one pickle, one slice of Swiss cheese, one slice of salami, one lollipop, one piece of cherry pie, one sausage, one cupcake, and one slice of watermelon. I just wouldn't want to get a stomachache like the hungry caterpillar does!

Students could also explore the way that a caterpillar moves in general--or how he moves when he's hungry versus how he moves when he's full. Or they could create their own dance on a subject other than caterpillars, but by using the educational themes of counting or days of the week that show up in the book. So many possibilities!

As usual, I'm very curious to see how Maria used the book with her young students. So let's crawl like a caterpillar over to Maria's Movers to see how her classes went! Then feel free to come back here and explore the extra links I've gathered below...

Getting to Know Eric Carle

Educational Tools

More Fun Links


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you so so much for the kind comment, Kristi. It really made my night :)


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