The following ideas are excerpted from Children's Book Activities Kit by Elizabeth C. Stull.
- Have a Puppet Show
Have each student bring in an old, white gym sock that can be made into a puppet. Using markers or paint, make the sock into a caterpillar by drawing circles for a body. Add details like eyes, nose, and antennae by using pipe cleaners and glued-on felt pieces. Cut a hole in the sock for a mouth. Once all of the glue and/or paint is dry, turn the sock inside-out and create a butterfly. Make colorful wings out of felt and sew or glue them on. Create food out of felt, then reenact the story using the puppets. At the end, turn the socks inside-out so the caterpillars can be transformed into beautiful butterflies.
- Re-Create the Book
Have children make a ten-page book so they can retell the story. On page one have them print "The Days of the Caterpillar," and draw a caterpillar. You can give them scraps of wallpaper to cut into shapes and recreate Carle's style of illustration. On pages two through eight, have them print the days of the week and illustrate the food that the caterpillar ate. On page nine, have them print "Cocoon" (more accurately called a chrysalis) and draw a cocoon. On page ten, have them print "Butterfly", and draw a butterfly. On the cover have them print the title, The Hungry Caterpillar, the author's name, and an illustration.
- Make a Caterpillar
Young children can gain practice with hand-eye coordination by tracing large circles, cutting them out, overlapping them and pasting four or five together in a row. Add details (eyes, legs, and so on) with construction paper. Make pipe cleaner antennae.
- Caterpillar Measurement
When caterpillars are born, they are so tiny that you might not see them under a leaf, but they grow fast. By the end of three weeks, they are about three inches long. On a ruler, find the section from the left edge to the numeral three; that measures three inches. How many things can you find that are three inches long? Keep a record as a class.
- Caterpillar Walk
The cocoon thread of the moth caterpillar, when unwound, is over one-half mile in length – that's 2,640 feet long. Using a trundle wheel and a pedometer, go for a caterpillar walk on the playground (if this equipment is unavailable, measure a length of string that is 26 feet long and use that instead). You might go around and around, just like a moth caterpillar spinning a cocoon. By physically experiencing (walking) the length of the cocoon thread, students will gain an understanding of just how long the threads are that comprise a moth caterpillar's cocoon.
- Moth Caterpillar Farms
People who grow moth caterpillars for a living say that when caterpillars are ready to pupate (new vocabulary word) they are taken to trays of straw. First they rest, then they turn from side to side, covering themselves with thick bags of silk, or the cocoon. It takes three days to spin this bag of silk, or cocoon. Chart this on the calendar in the room so that you know that on Day 1 the caterpillar is spinning, on Days 2 and 3 it is still spinning, and on Day 4 it is resting inside the cocoon. How many days will it rest before it emerges? Find books in the library that will help locate the answer, and chart the days on the calendar.