Which child today has not heard of Eric Carle? His children’s picture books have topped charts for years and continue to remain on the top of the wish-list of new parents as well. Amongst so many Eric Carle books that we own, read and love- a clear favorite stands out, for the sake of its simplicity and its nature of capturing the imagination of toddlers and early learners alike: The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar: A short story about a caterpillar that emerges out of an egg, eats everything in sight and grows into a large caterpillar, that wraps itself in a cocoon and stays there for a while, until out emerges a beautiful butterfly. How sweet is that? Perfectly paired with illustrations in Eric Carle’s unique style and packed with punches of science, numeracy and language building prompts.
This book is available in many formats:
- interactive board book,
- touch and feel book,
- pull-out-pop-up book,
- rag book,
- as well as hardcover
- and paperback book
Pick the format that works well for your child’s age, sensory requirements and learning style. No one shoe fits all. No two children will take the same learning back from a book. Choose wisely, especially when an overwhelming amount of information is out there.
Introducing the Book:
Toddlers will typically flip through the pages, mesmerized by the color and shapes that make the artistic illustrations by Eric Carle, and interact with the books in their own unique ways. As a parent and facilitator of their learning, one must sit back and observe their interaction with the book- for it will open up windows to their mind and offer you clues to their learning style.
An early learner at the preK-K level who has been read to many times, will now be able to repeat and retell the story while flipping the pages. This is your cue to now initiate this book as a learning resource and discussion starter. There are many strategies to introduce a book to a child as a learning resource. The very first step is to discuss the book cover and title.
This is how I would begin: Discuss the title of the book, look at the image of the caterpillar on the cover, and ask open ended questions- prompting curiosity and leading to newer questions, without offering answers. We would then follow this with looking through Eric Carle’s illustration technique used across his works: Using tissue Collages, and trying to replicate this technique to illustrate our own hungry caterpillars (or any other picture for that matter, depending on the child’s interest)
Scholastic lists out an interesting opening order for this discussion (found here) where the discussion touches upon what might have been in the mind of the author while designing this cover.
Open Ended Learning Via Journaling
Our curriculum is open ended. There are no right answers, just directions to lead a child to explorations across disciplines using creative thinking, critical problem solving, collaboration and computational thinking (21st century skills). Each child will learn and explore at his own pace and hence, a journal or scrapbook becomes a more open medium of expression than the tight spaces of a worksheet or workbook.
Using a journal allows the child to link forward and backwards to topics of interest, pick and choose activities from the list as per his choice and interest and leave room to come back to these explorations at a later point in the future. Journals are a powerful form of self-expression and journaling for kids is sure to become a powerhouse of ideas.
Let’s look through the index of activities that our curriculum works around. Of course, I must add here that the sequence of activities follows the story line, however it is not necessary to follow the sequence but follow the interest and readiness of the child. That’s the beauty of using open ended learning methods. You can skip forward and loop back depending on the learning curve and style of every unique child. Find the entire curriculum here