The wonders of nature often provide a wonderful way to reach some reluctant students. If they are engaged in the subject matter, they may not realize that they are working on skill building. During the spring, we are often able to witness amazing transformations in nature. Baby birds grow up and learn to fly. Another fascinating transformation to watch is little caterpillars turning into beautiful butterflies. Many classrooms have science centers where they are able to witness the stages of metamorphosis take place.
To get started with this topic, read students The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. This story may be familiar with some of the kids. To familiarize and engage the entire group, prepare some props ahead of time for kids to use while you read the story a few times. You will need a caterpillar, leaf, sun, apple, two pears, three plums, four strawberries, five oranges, other foods, cocoon, and butterfly. These could be made into finger puppets or drawn and attached after laminating on crafting sticks. All of these will work well for a retelling to get the kids involved.
Kids will practice working as a team to tell the story with the little puppets. They will work together to take turns with certain parts. They can get creative and have new words added to the familiar tale. Imagine what the caterpillar would say as it goes on the journey eating its way to becoming a beautiful butterfly. Think outside of the box and work on skills which each child will benefit from.
To connect to home, make a version of the props to take home. Use construction paper and allow students to draw and cut out what is needed. These can be sent home in a baggie with a copy of the book to share for a weekend. The cutting of smaller shapes will work on fine motor skills which many children need extra practice with. Older students may like to create their own caterpillar take. Creative writing with this story will allow you to focus on their letter formation, spacing of letters, and more. They can draw their own little caterpillar and share what he or she will eat along the journey. If they do this, a nice connection for sharing at home would be to include translation to promote the multilingual families. Do not forget that this book is also available in many other languages and some homes may already own them to share.
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