Activity: A picnic with The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

I’d like to share with you a creative way you could share a story with your child, by using props and creating a scene to assist in the story-telling. Bringing books to life in this way is so much fun. It is also a cost effective activity for the school holidays.

Creating a scene for our children can help them connect to a story. Their understanding of the world around them can make more sense when they can relate stories to their own experiences.

Our background story:

I’m not sure about you, but for me it is always such a wonderful feeling to wake up to a beautiful Spring day. With the sun finally shining in Melbourne yesterday, I couldn’t resist setting up a special story to read with my daughter  Cam under the gorgeous blossom tree in our front yard. Being a Sunday, my husband was also home to enjoy the story with us.

The book:

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Author/Illustrator: Eric Carle
Publisher: Picture Puffin

You will need:

  • A copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar
  • A picnic rug or blanket
  • A picnic basket or lunch box
  • Some of the food eaten by The Very Hungry Caterpillar such as apple, pears, plums, oranges, strawberries, cheese, pickle, watermelon.
  • A caterpillar. If you don’t have one you could:

Make one by painting an egg carton. Add googly eyes and use some pipe cleaners as antennae.


Fill a stocking with tissue paper and use string to tie off the segments of his body. Use pipe-cleaners as antennae and add some googly eyes.


Cut out discs of coloured card. Glue them together (slowly overlapped) to create the body of a caterpillar. Draw some facial features.

Our approach:

1. Write your shopping list

As we needed to make a trip to the supermarket anyway, I simply added to my list some of the foods that are listed in The Very Hungry Caterpillar. (You might even feel that your children are capable of helping you write the list and could also assist you with the shopping.)

2. Set up your picnic (the scene)

While Cam was having her afternoon nap, I set up a picnic rug under the blossom tree and packed a mini picnic basket full of foods that ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ ate during his very hungry week. Cam was given a toy caterpillar last Christmas, so this also made a lovely prop to add to the scene I was creating. If you don’t have toy caterpillar you could make one. (See the end of the article for some ideas)

3. Give your child time to explore the scene

When Cam woke up, I took her outside to see ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ scene that was awaiting her. She was so happy to see her little friend (the caterpillar), but she was even more thrilled when I sat her down in front of the picnic basket where she excitedly explored the contents of the basket.

Although the picnic basket was full of healthy foods:  an apple, pear, orange, strawberries and cheese, it was the cake that caught her eye! She was so excited about finding the treat that she even said ‘cake’ for the first time.

4. Read the story together. Stop to discuss and let the caterpillar prop act out the story

We had read this book numerous times before, but this time we took lots of breaks in the story. At each page, we stopped to search through the picnic basket, giving Cam time to find the next food on the list. She thought it was hilarious that the caterpillar was munching on our picnic as she pulled each item out of the basket.

5. Enjoy your picnic

When we finished the story, we relaxed and enjoyed our picnic feast under the gorgeous blossom tree. Needless to say the cake was a special treat! It truly was a special way to spend a sunny day with my family. It is a day that I will treasure, and one I think Cam will surely remember.

Other suitable books to read at a picnic:

Food Friends Board: Fun Foods that Go Together, by Cece Bell

The Bear’s Lunch, by Pamela Allen

Once Upon a Picnic, by Vivian French & John Prater

Teddy Bear’s Picnic: Pop-Up Picnic Basket with Working Fork, Knife, and Spoon, by Pauliina Malinen

The Teddy Bears’ Picnic, by Jimmy Kennedy and Michael Hague

We’re Going on a Picnic, by Pat Hutchins

Pig Out!, by Sascha Hutchinson

Lunchbox: The Story of Your Food, by Butterworth & Lucia Gaggiotti

Are you interested in giving it a try yourself?

Maybe you’d do it differently. You could even adapt or extend the activity to suit the age of your child. Feel free to share your experiences.

What props did you use? What book did you read? How did your child react to the experience?

If you love The Very Hungry Caterpillar make sure you visit An Amazing Child who has collated a wonderul collection of Eric Carle inspired activities to celebrate his birthday.

Activity: A picnic with The Very Hungry Caterpillar.


  1. This is such a lovely way to bring a book to life.

    I would love for you to link in to my weekly children’s book exploring meme called Read.Explore.Learn.

  2. Awesome! What a perfect way to bring a story to life for younger readers.

  3. The egg carton for the caterpillar is a very easy craft activity to encourage young children with craft.

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