To get started, gather some books written and/or illustrated by Eric Carle - there is a great list on his website: www.ericcarle.com . Check out similarities, artwork, colors ... go on a few picture walks. Choose a few books to read and show your children that some of the books have specially-cut pages and need to be treated, as all books do, with special care!
I like to tell the little ones that someone named Eric wrote these books for them – and other children! I tell them his whole name and describe how he is sitting somewhere in a workshop/office planning even more stories – right now! I describe the process in simple terms for them and then we get started looking at some of the books – it helps them connect in a special way. (I also tell them that they, too, can be story-tellers or authors!)
“The Very Hungry Caterpillar” is a well-known book that is fun for all ages! (counting and days of the week are part of the book!)
When you're done reading, make one of these: (1) Egg carton caterpillars from half of an egg carton – paint and attach eyes and chenille stick antennae.
(2) Thumbprint caterpillars - use as many colors and make it as long as you want!
(3) Super-simple paper-cup print caterpillars! Use the top edge of a small cup to dip in paint and make your caterpillar - go over circle shapes, too!
(4) If you’re really ambitious – here's a multi-part project: Have children paint clothespins to look like a caterpillar. Separately, make coffee filters into butterfly wings by coloring with markers (try for symmetry) and dripping drops of water to make them bleed. Let dry and set aside. Paint paper rolls brown to make cocoons. Make a big deal about putting the caterpillars into the cocoons and waiting – maybe a week or so - but it's hard to wait(!) When the kiddies aren’t around, clip your wings onto the clothespins to make butterflies and roll back up into the cocoons – when you are ready, the butterflies can emerge for the cocoons.
Another favorite,“The Very Lonely Firefly,” is a book with a great message and one kids love – and get! Fireflies are fun to make – paint craft sticks with glow-in-the-dark paint, attach eyes and pretty tissue paper wings – when they are all dry, you can turn the lights off and have your fireflies find their friends!
“The Grouchy Ladybug” is also fun to do with kids – they pick right up on the repeating lines and LOVE to join in -with attitude - on the ladybug’s lines. It combines time of day (the o’clocks) and size (increasing animal sizes) with lots of animal names – fun! List the animals to practice recall - a great literacy extension. Make a ladybug and go over symmetry in nature as a science extension – use a paper plate or card stock and attach wings with a fastener – make sure your dots are equal on each wing!
Check my previous post "I Love Eric Carle!" for more ideas! Have fun!