Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Eric Carle

It's Eric Carle time in my classroom!  I love using Eric Carle books in the spring.  They lend themselves to so many great activities- writing, math, science- and are just  plain fun! Here are some of the books I like to use especially in the spring, and the activities I use with the books. I hope you find some fun things to use in your classroom.


My kids LOVE Hello, Red Fox.  I keep this out to use any time we have some extra minutes during the day, because the kids love to stare at the dot and see the different colored picture on the other side. We have to practice really staring at that dot- and not moving our eyes away for even a split second. Once the kids really "get it," you know.  They are SO excited. 

HERE are some ideas you can use with Hello, Red Fox from Eric Carle's site.  

I also show my kids my Perspective and Optical Illusion Prezi. It's all of my different optical illusions put together that the kids love to see. 


I always use The Grouchy Ladybug as an introduction to telling time.  It is great for so many activities- and always a favorite.

Here is a free ladybug clock from  that is cute.

 I just add two construction paper half circles with a brad so they open over  the clock when it is made, and the children can dab on black spots. The children picked up telling time to the hour and half hour very quickly this year.  We also have been practicing counting by 5's, so this made that very relevant for them.

After reading the story and practicing on my big clock for a while, we went outside to see just how big the blue whale was compared to the ladybug.  I had a piece of rope 45 feet long (the length of a average whale) and a red button. 
One child held our "ladybug" where another child held one end of the rope. 

Then, we s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d out that rope to see how long a whale was.
The children were amazed- but THEN I told them that the blue whale was twice that long or about 90 feet long! So we stretched all the way down the side walk.  That button looked pretty small!

When we came inside and sat back on the rug, we discussed the "grouchy" part of the story.  Later that day, we cut out ladybugs, glued on our grouchy face picture, six legs, and two antennas, and made dots with a cotton swab.  I love this activity.  Here are some favorite grouchy faces:

I can totally relate to, "I can't remember things."  I love how her one leg is kicking.

This one may be my very favorite, because he said he was grouchy when his mom goes to work. When I asked him why, he said, "because my mom works like a million whale lengths away from home!"  

During free choice time, I had the children come to my table to paint ladybug rocks for their gardens.  We had talked about how good ladybugs are for the garden- and, from the story, they knew that ladybugs loved eating aphids!

First, I drew the outline on the stone.  OK- backing up, very first, my husband and I went to the creek to find many beautiful oval stones, perfect for bug-making! Then, I drew the outline:

The children picked their favorite bug stone. I had  lots of different sizes, so this was fun for them.

They drew  a little face on the front part and wrote their name on the bottom with a Sharpie.  Then, they painted the sides red and the back section black.  They put the black dots on right then with a cotton swab.  I thought they would have to wait until it dried, but it worked just fine to do it all at the same time.

When they were all dry, I shellacked them so they would be more weatherproof outside in a garden.

My own children made these when they were young, and they lasted for years outside once they were sprayed.  We also made "Lonely Fireflies" with glow in the dark paint on the back end!  Yes- they glowed in the garden! 

For our Science lesson, we watched the videos on my Eric Carle Prezi about the ladybug lifecycle and the different types of ladybugs.


 The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse is a simple story, but so inspirational for fostering the children's natural creativity and imagination.
Eric Carle lets children see that it is OK - even WONDERFUL to paint a red crocodile, a purple fox, and a polka-dotted donkey!  This book is a perfect illustration lesson for Writer's Workshop in the beginning of the year. It lets the children feel free to experiment and try new things.  

I love Eric Carle's interview about writing the book.

Hello Kids has a page with 15 different horse coloring pages.  You could let each child choose a horse and paint or color it any way he/she wanted, and then write about the horse on the back of the paper.
Here is a picture of some of the pages.


This is a really fun activity that the children love, and it gets the families involved as well. I send home a note to parents telling them  that we will be reading Eric Carle's book, The Apron.  I explain that it is a story about Eric Carle, when he was eight years old,  working for his uncle at his job as a plasterer. He loved the workman's apron with a pocket so much that  his aunt made him an apron of his own, and he spent a few days as his Uncle Adam's assistant.

I ask the parents to send in something with their child that represents the job that the parents do- a "tool of their trade," sort of like the apron was for the plasterer.

I always have a wonderful response to this.  One of my all time favorites was a mother of three busy boys who sent this in:
The children just love sharing and listening to each other when they share what they bring. This is always one of my favorite lessons.   Here are some examples of "tools of the trade" that were shared:

Daddy works for the cable company.

                                                                   Mommy is a nurse.

Mommy is a great cook and daddy builds houses

Grammy is a seamstress, who can EVEN sew on buttons, and Poppy is a golfer.

Daddy works at a quarry.

Daddy works on helicopter engines.
Her mom wrote me a little note with this heart that said that she had wanted it to say, "My mom and dad's job is to make love in the house," but mom thought it may be better to say, "My mom and dad's job is to love us."      

Not really sure about this one... She brought balls in and said daddy juggled for the circus.  I am going to check this one out.  She also said, "So I guess, if you are at the circus and you see my daddy, maybe, um... don't wave. "  

One of my favorite things about the book is a handwritten letter in the back from Eric Carle explaining that this is a true story that happened to him when he was eight years old.  The children really see first hand how "real" authors use real life events as ideas for stories.


I always like to read Eric Carle's A House for Hermit Crab near the end of the year, as my children get ready to move on to their new "home" in first grade.

We have great talks about making new friends and learning new things in first grade, but always knowing that our kindergarten friends are there for  us all the time.

The other thing my children pick up on in this book is that it follows the hermit crab through the months of the year.  My class loves the  Macarena Months song from Dr. Jean, so we sang this after we read the book.

I show the class some video clips of actual hermit crabs.   I put several (as well as Macarena Months, or course!)  on my Eric Carle Prezi.  One of the favorites is this one where the hermit crab decides he wants to live in a Lego shell!

I found this adorable hermit crab craft at Tippytoe Crafts!  I love the handprint idea and the eyes on the pipe cleaners! I am going to do this next year!

We didn't have time for much of a craft the day we read this story, but during free choice time, I made some shells and had lots of sea stickers and blue paper to cut like water, so the children got creative!

Our favorite activity was our Hermit Crab Game. The children sat in a circle on the rug. I chose one name stick to be the child who closed his/her eyes in our back section of the room (behind a book shelf).  I chose another  name stick to be the crab and hide in the shell. We practiced this game before we actually played.  I had one child peek- so he knew who was under the "shell," and we saw how it really took the fun away from the game.  I also had the children practice being completely quiet and not giving away any hints about who was the crab.  They got very good at this, and were actually annoyed if anyone made a peep! (I LOVED this game.)  One child was the "clue giver," if the child guessing needed a hint.  This was great practice for noticing details about friends and describing each other. (For example, "It is a girl."  "This person has red hair." "This person's name starts with a B."  "This person wears glasses.")  Here, the boy in the green was "clue giver" while the one in the orange shirt was guessing!

Sometimes I divide the name sticks in half, and we play one round where half get to guess and half get to be the crab, then later, we switch, so that everyone has a chance to do both.

When the crab was under the "shell" and we were ready for our guesser to come out, we all sang, "The crab is in the shell. The crab is in the shell. Hi ho the derry-o, the crab is in the shell."  That just happened.  Not planned.  But so precious!

This is a very versatile game.  We also like to play it  around Christmas- when the person under the blanket is the present, and we say, "The present is wrapped!"

The first time we played it, I got under the blanket as the last child guessed.  The kids said, "This is a HUGE present."   Kids are so good for keeping you humble.

I use this little creation all the time. I just hot glued one plastic cup inside a larger clear plastic cup. After I draw a name stick from the inside cup, I put it in the outside cup so I know I used it.


The Very Lonely Firefly is worth reading, just for the ooohs and aaahs on that last page where the fireflies  start blinking!  I always leave one side of the lights off when I read this book for an extra big effect.
I  like to make a quick graph to see how many children call these "fireflies" and how many call them "lightning bugs."  I am usually always in the minority with "lightning bugs," except for the few who then feel sorry for me and try to switch their answer to make me feel better.   I love any excuse to make a quick graph so we can practice "how many more."  My kids are always very good at most, least, more, less, but "how many more" is sometimes tricky for them.  Just a couple weeks ago, everyone finally got it!  We match up the ones we can, and whatever votes are left without matches are the "how many more." 

My kids LOVE to know things they think maybe even grown-ups might not know- so today I taught them that the male, or boy, fireflies fly around and blink up in the sky, but the female, or girl, fireflies blink in down in the grass and don't fly.  I had the children turn and teach each other this fun fact, and we acted it out with our hands  up high blinking for the boys- and down low blinking for the girls.  I bet lots of moms and dads learned something new at dinner tonight.

We watched the life cycle of a firefly on my Eric Carle Prezi, and the children were excited to learn that they are called "glowworms" before they are fireflies.  Another fun fact!

We made some of our own fireflies to hang up in our bedrooms. First, the children colored the fireflies beautifully- all except the back end. Then, with a cotton swab, the children paint the back end of the firefly with glow-in-the-dark paint.  The paint needs to be quite thick on the back, and then it will really glow great!

I also printed this sheet on card stock, and  cut out some of the bigger fireflies so the children could make a firefly to clip on something in their bedroom.  For the back end, we dipped the cotton ball into the glow in the dark paint, then glued it onto the firefly.  I just used Elmer's glue to glue the firefly onto the clothespin.  You could also use hot glue, but Elmer's worked fine.

This is them actually glowing!

When I handed back the dried firefly pictures to take home, I had the shades pulled and I turned off the lights at the count of three, so everybody's paper glowed.  I loved the sound of eighteen  "ooooohhhhs!"  

I have also made the garden bug fireflies, like my grouchy ladybug stones, and painted the back end with glow-in-the-dark paint, and they have worked well glowing outside in the garden!
During Writing Centers, we talked about times we felt lonely and then wrote about them.
I got a kick out of the clever ways the children spelled "nobody."  I had never seen this way before:


I love these painted rocks that go along with The Very Hungry Caterpillar from Thrive 360 Living. The children would have the best time retelling the story with these stones. There is a fun summer project for you!
The Very Hungry Caterpillar activity for kids - painted rocks
This necklace from Buggy and Buddy is adorable, too!

I also love these caterpillars from ABC and 123.

Make it Cozee shared her printables at her site that you could use for so many different things!

I also have a post ALL about clouds HERE with lots of ideas to go along with Little Cloud.  
Also, the preview to my Eric Carle Prezi is my Little Cloud Prezi, so you can see what the Prezi is like.

  Danielle  Mastandrea as a FABULOUS Eric Carle Unit Freebie at her TPT store.

Eric Carle Unit {FREEBIE}Eric Carle Unit {FREEBIE}Eric Carle Unit {FREEBIE}Eric Carle Unit {FREEBIE}

There are so many fabulous crafts and activities to go along with each book at Eric Carle's Official Site on the page called the Caterpillar Exchange .

I know this was a LONG post! I hope you found some new ideas to try with your Eric Carle books.


I  made an  Author Study for Eric Carle, which includes the Prezi, 17 Writing Prompts for 11 of Eric Carle's books (plus 14 prompts to use with any book), and QR Codes for each book!

Eric Carle COMPLETE Writing Packet- QR Codes, Prompts, Prezi!

I love this packet because when I do the author study, we make a book putting all of our prompts together.  It's a great review of all of his books for the kids, too!  I hope you found some fun ideas to use in your classroom.
Thank you for stopping by!

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