Sunday, May 12, 2019

Happy Birthday, Very Hungry Caterpillar! - Family Storytime

caterpillar storytime, very hungry caterpillar 50th birthday

Fifty years ago a tiny caterpillar popped out of an egg and into the hearts of children everywhere. Generations later, it is still hugely popular, and has been translated into at least 40 languages. The upcoming anniversary of the publication of Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar inspired this caterpillar-themed storytime with some very special guests.

I started with my usual welcome song, followed by a new one from Jbrary I've been using lately:
 "Hello, Everybody"

Hello, everybody, can you touch your nose,
Touch your nose, touch your nose?
Hello, everybody, can you touch your nose?
Touch - your - nose?

(wiggle ears, pat head, rub tummy, etc...)

caterpillar storytime, very hungry caterpillar pop-up bookI followed that with our "story song", then introduced the topic and asked them how old they thought The Very Hungry Caterpillar was. First they guessed a year, then three years, five years, and ten years. Then I told them it was FIFTY years old, and that I read it when I was their age, which blew their minds. Then I told them that while most of them had probably read it before, I bet they had never read this version, and pulled out my special pop-up version that was created for the 40th anniversary.

Though I had had to make some repairs, it still worked pretty well and they were very impressed, and I think paid attention more than they would have otherwise. It's always fun to see an old favorite in a different format or told in a different way. My only fault with this classic is the mistaken use of a cocoon, when it should be a chrysalis. Caterpillars that become butterflies form a chrysalis, a flexible shell under their skin that hardens after they molt one last time. Cocoons are like sleeping bags spun out of silk by caterpillars that will become moths; they serve the same function, but are very different, and I explained this to the audience.

I followed that with a fun little song that would let them move around and get some wiggles out, including wriggling like a caterpillar and flying like a butterfly.

Can You Move Like Me?

Can you wiggle like a worm?
Can you squiggle can you squirm?

Can you flutter, can you fly,
Like a gentle butterfly?

Can you crawl upon the ground,
Like a beetle that is round?
Can you move like me?

Can you flip? Can you flop?
Can you give a little hop?

Can you slither like a snake?
Can you give a little shake?

Can you dance like a bee
That is buzzing 'round a tree?
Can you move like me?

caterpillar storytime, Then we went from a very old caterpillar story to a brand new one, and instead of being very hungry, this one was The Very Impatient Caterpillar by Ross Burach. If you've read my previous review, you know I love this book! It is so funny, reminds me a great deal of Mo Willem's impatient Pigeon, and the humor is very similar.

I also love that it properly shows a chrysalis, and uses the appropriate term, plus introduces two other great vocabulary words, metamorphosis and migration. 
I got to read it earlier this week to the 4-year old class at my outreach visit, and they loved it, too.

Our Special Guests! 

Then I introduced our special guests, and let them all get a chance to see them up close.

I've always wanted to do the activity where you buy live caterpillars and then get to observe them as they grow and develop, forming chrysalises, and finally emerging as butterflies, so I figured this was a great excuse, and I wouldn't have to pay for it, plus I'd get to share it with everyone else. So we now have twelve Painted Lady caterpillars (from Carolina Biological Supply) living in our department, and I encouraged everyone to stop by every couple of days or so to check on their development. The whole process only takes about 3 weeks!

caterpillar storytime, painted lady caterpillars

The caterpillars came in 2 cups, complete with nutrient media, which I set inside an aquarium with a mesh cover (taped down) to protect them from being picked up, shaken, or opened, and put them on a shelf near the desk with an info sheet where everyone can see them, and we can keep an eye on them. [They also came with a butterfly cage, feeding wick, and lots of info and resources.]

caterpillars in the library

[I'll post further updates, photos, and videos to the blog under STEAM programming, and to my Facebook page, so be sure to follow along!]

Optional Craft

The craft I chose was very simple, but yielded impressively cute results. It actually combined two crafts, a caterpillar made with pom-poms and a clothespin, and a butterfly made with coffee filters, washable markers, water, and a pipe cleaner. I gave them the option of making either or both, and supplied ziplock bags for those who had to leave so they could take the supplies, take a picture of the directions, and finish at home.

caterpillar craft, butterfly craft

The caterpillar is pretty straightforward (just glue pom-poms on the clothespin and add eyes), but for the butterfly, stack two coffee filters directly on top of each other. Color the top one with washable markers, then lightly mist with water (or drip from eye droppers) until the colors bleed through the second filter; let dry. Then accordion-pleat each filter, hold together and twist pipe cleaner around and bend the ends into antennae; one filter forms the forewings, and the second makes the hindwings. Lightly "fluff" the wings.

butterfly craft

Once both parts are dry, you can transform the caterpillar into a butterfly by clipping it onto the butterfly wings!

caterpillar craft, butterfly craft, caterpillar storytime

How It Went

This was a really fun storytime! I had a decent turnout, despite not getting an announcement on social media like I wanted*, and the kids all seemed enthusiastic, plus several were aged 4-6, which was a nice change.

We loved reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and I got really great participation, with the kids all saying the repeating line "...but he was still hungry" and identifying the foods he ate. Though I of course like to use storytime to introduce kids and parents to new authors, illustrators, and stories, it is nice to occasionally read an old classic because it's familiar and you get such great interaction and participation, and even better if you can share it in a new way, such as with a pop-up version, flannel story, using puppets or props, singing it, etc. Kids always love pop-ups, so of course the pop-up version I had was a big hit.

Most of the kids enjoyed the "Can You Move Like Me?" song, but for whatever reason, about a third of the audience left after that. But the ones that stayed really loved the humor in The Very Impatient Caterpillar, and though most of the kids denied it, the parents confirmed that they had a lot in common with the impatient caterpillar sometimes.

They also loved seeing the caterpillars up close, and hearing that we were going to keep them at the library and watch them grown and develop, until they transformed into butterflies. I encourage them to stop by and check in on them frequently, as the process is surprisingly fast!

*I had a whole social media component planned to go with this, announcing the arrival of the caterpillars and inviting the public to their big debut at storytime, then posting updates with photos of their growth and development. I even envisioned possibly being lucky enough to catch them emerging from their chrysalis on live video. But, alas, it was not meant to be. Our person in charge of social media quit, and it's kind of a hot mess right now. So I'll just post them on my own social media instead.

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