One of Lila’s favorite books is “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.” Kinda gives me one of those ooey-home-baked-chocolate-chip-cookie-gooey feelings since it was my favorite book as a youngster, too. She especially loves when the caterpillar begins to eat… and points to each fruit or food as I read. (Isn’t it mind-blowing how much language acquisition and understanding happens around this age? Maybe if I I had the sponge-like brain qualities of a 14 month old, I’d remember things better!)
So it made me wonder about hosting a play date all about this favorite book. What would it look like? What would we do? Here are some of my ideas… and I’d love to hear yours!

Activities:
  • Read Aloud: Gather all of the kids participating in your play date in a comfortable area (rugs and pillows encouraged!) and read the story aloud. They can take turns turning the pages, or even pointing objects out in the picture. If the children are of reading age, they can each take turns reading a page.
  • Act-it-Out: The Very Hungry Caterpillar illustrates the lifecycle of a butterfly – – from caterpillar, to cocoon, to butterfly. Have children act out the lifecycle. For egg, have the squat down. For larva, have them squirm like a worm. For pupa, have them crawl into a cocoon. And for butterfly, have them pop up and spread their wings! If you’re feeling adventurous, have ’em fly around the room.
  • Counting Activities: I picked out an adorable Very Hungry Caterpillar felt board set at aMuse Toys this weekend, but you could certainly make your own like Eva from Handmade Beginnings did!
  • Collage Butterfly: I loved making tissue paper collages when I was little, and tissue paper collage is the technique Eric Carle uses to illustrate his books! (He actually prepares his own colored tissue paper – – I’m not quite that artistic). So over the weekend, I cut a butterfly out of a large (11″ x 14″ piece of paper) and cut small squares of different colored tissue paper. I placed the glue on the back of the tissue paper, and gave it to Lila to place on the butterfly. She loved it! However, the butterfly I cut was too big to keep her attention for long, so our butterfly is still unfinished. I love the collage example from Art Projects for Kids, but ours looks a lot more like the one from Preschool Daze (also adorable!).
  • Paper Fastener Caterpillar Puppet: Cut large circles and use brass paper fasteners to create a moveable caterpillar. Just like these cuties from the Theater Action Project blog!
  • Pop Pom Caterpillar: This craft from Pink and Green Mama looks like so much fun! I’m imagining it’s probably best if your play date has only a few kids attending since it requires a bit of sewing. I’m a sewing neophyte though and this project doesn’t scare me, so anyone should be able to do it!

Snacks:

  • Caterpillar Cupcake: I LOVE this caterpillar cupcake design by Coco Cake Cupakes. I doubt mine would be that elaborate. Perhaps the same effect could be achieved by colored frosting and sprinkles?
  • Fruit Salad: The caterpillar eats a ton of fruit in the book… so create a fruit salad with the fruit in the book and have the kiddos identify the fruit they’re eating. Maybe even make a game out of it – -blindfold them, have them ‘taste test’ and tell you the fruit! You could even have the children watch as you make the fruit salad. When you cut open each fruit, ask them to identify what they see inside. Are their seeds? Is the inside the same as the outside? What does it smell like?
  • Create a Muffin Tin Snackboard: I LOVE this muffin tin idea I saw on Malia Li’l Kula. Put out all of the “good for you” food mentioned in the book, and then have children create their own little muffin tin snack. Great counting activity, too!
  • Book Illustration Snack: Gourmet Mom On the Go styled this snack that looks just like the book – – complete with caterpillar holes. So cool.
  • Peanut Butter and Jelly-Fly: Does your play date take place near lunchtime? Make quick and easy PB&J; sandwiches – – then cut them into the shape of a butterfly with a cookie cutter like Melissa at Another Lunch. Simple and delicious. You can decorate the sandwich, or slather on some peanut butter and let the kids decorate their butterfly with raisins and fruit. Cookie cutter sandwiches work with standard ham and cheese, too!
What are your Hungry Caterpillar play date ideas?