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The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

(Support the author by purchasing this book here.)

"Read it again!" Children love to hear their favorite stories again and again, especially ones by the beloved children's author, Eric Carle. Read and reread, just for the fun. Or, if you'd like, take advantage of the many different learning opportunities found within one great book. For example, in the Hungry Caterpillar, we can learn about foods, days of the week, counting, sequencing, or life cycles. 

A quality classroom, or homeschool program, offers four literacy components for children of all abilities: shared reading, independent reading, shared writing, and independent writing.

  • Shared Reading is reading aloud together and may include target objectives for discussion and focus.
  • Independent Reading provides time for children to read or pretend read to themselves.
  • Shared Writing is writing together using a variety of strategies to model and teach.
  • Independent Writing is time allotted for student to write independently. They may write a project or paper, journal, create a card or type an e-mail. 

Let's look at different ways activities for Shared Reading and Shared Writing based on the book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle.


Focus: First Read

Shared Reading: Introduce characters and story vocabulary. Predict what will happen and recall events after story. Sequence the story using visuals. 


Shared Writing: Imagine you were the hungry caterpillar? What would your story be? Write and draw your story together. 



Focus: Foods

Shared Reading: Look at the different foods in the story. Act out story (retell) with puppet (or sock). Puppet can "eat" play food or through the pictures of food (cut out holes). 

Shared Writing: What are your favorite foods? Make a shopping list of what you would eat if you were the hungry caterpillar.


Focus: Time / Days of the Week

Shared Reading: Sing the Days of the week song. ( Read and discuss the weekly schedule for the Hungry Caterpillar's meals. 

Shared Writing: Create a schedule of snacks or lunches for the week. 


Focus: Life Cycles

Shared Reading: Look at the life cycle of the butterfly as you read.

Shared Writing: Draw and describe the life cycle of a butterfly. Can you draw other life cycles? Chickens, frogs, ladybugs, people...


Focus: Counting / one-to-one correspondence

Shared Reading: Count pictures in the story of how many foods the caterpillar eats (1 apple, 2 pears) 

Shared Writing: Write the numerals of the quantity of food eacten each day in the story. Make a counting book together. 


Focus: In and Out

Shared Reading: Emphasize words “in” and “out” using visuals while reading. Use a small piece of pipe cleaner to slide in and out of holes in book modeling in and out. A tiny egg – out popped a caterpillar, ate in the apple and out of the apple, in two pears and out two pears, went in his cocoon and came out as a butterfly.

Shared Writing: Using predictable chart writing, make sentences using "in" and out" to create your own story. "I go in a..." and "I go out of a ...". Make them silly for extra fun. (ie: I go in my tub, I go out of my tub, I go in a zoo, I go out of the zoo, I go in a banana!) Use visuals to help. 


Additional Activities: 

  • Make a Caterpillar sock puppet for retelling. 
  • Going to store? Make a shopping list!

  • Plan schedules for other parts of the day. 

  • Order butterflies or ladybugs (

  • Visit a farm or butterfly museum

  • Using color beads that match the  color of each food – make a bracelet to help retell the story. 

  • Build an obstacle course with a focus on "in", "out", and "through"

  • YouTube video: The Very Hungry Caterpillar
  • Play with vocabulary from the story: