The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle, is a treasure, not only because children love the story and the colorful pictures, but because it is useful for teaching children. Math, reading, writing and listening skills are all lessons teachers use for the hungry caterpillar stories. These math lessons will help make learning fun!
Create little caterpillars out of round construction paper circles. First, have the students count the number of circles of the creatures you have created. Then, give them numbers and have them create caterpillars that match the number with the circles used to create it.
Cut out pictures of the different kinds of meals the little caterpillar ate as he grew. Include one apple, two pears, three plums and so on, matching each food with the correct number of pieces. Put a hole in each piece. The students will count the number of holes found in all the fruit.
Adding and subtracting
Make up story problems for the students. Examples: 1) If the very hungry caterpillar ate three plums on Wednesday and one apple on Monday, how many more plums did he eat than apples. 2) On Monday, the very hungry caterpillar ate one apple; on Tuesday he ate two pears. How many pieces of fruit did he eat altogether.
Less than-greater than
For each student, make six caterpillars of various sizes from green, round stamps. Add a red stamp for the head. Cut out the caterpillars and laminate them. Give each child a chenille craft stick shaped like a V. Use the various sizes to help them understand the concept of greater than or less than.
Using the laminated caterpillars, teach the children how to use a ruler. Just as the caterpillar in the story grows, line the creatures in order, from smallest to larger. Measure each caterpillar and record its size.
Make a list of all the types of foods the caterpillar eats throughout the story. Make a graph, placing the types of foods at the bottom of the graph. Starting with zero, write the numbers, one at a time, up the side of the graph. Graph each food to see which one the caterpillar ate the most.
Days of the week
As the little caterpillar eats his way through the story, Carle goes through the days of the week. Use the story along with a calendar and help the children understand the concept of week.
Compare and contrast
Compare and contrast the caterpillar and the beautiful butterfly he becomes. Compare the number of antennae. Notice the difference in the number of feet. Look the two over and find which numbers are the same and which numbers are different.
This fun little story, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, offers the primary teacher many opportunities to help their students understand their math. Read to your kids and start learning together.