THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR by Eric Carle is a picture book classic which children all around the world are familiar with. The familiarity of the story along with the simple language and colorful artwork make it an absolute must-have for the ESL teacher. It can be used to teach numbers, days of the week, colors, or (how I used it this year) to teach the names of fruit.
After reading aloud THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR, I introduced fruit words using flashcards similar to these ones below which are a free printable through TEACHERS PAY TEACHERS - (though I like mine bigger).
Game 1: I filled a big cardboard boxed with a mix of plastic fruit (one of each we introduced) and small plastic balls. One by one, students took turns "fishing" for the fruit with their eyes closed, and placing them on the corresponding flashcard. I know this game sounds so simple, but my 3-6 year olds love it. It's a great sensory game, and really gets their young neurons firing.
You can make this game harder or easier by either allowing them to look with their eyes AND hands, or blindfolding them. OR by giving students a particular fruit to search for. OR making them guess which fruit they have in their hands only by touch.
Game 2: After each student had a turn with the box, we made an obstacle course. This allowed us to practice our fruit vocabulary by still building on the ACTION VERBS we introduced a few weeks back.
Students were lined up on one end of the room. The fruit was lined up at the other. I also laid a broom on the ground as our main obstacle.
One by one, students took turns JUMPING over the broom, TIPTOEING toward the fruit, choosing the fruit which I called out, and RUNNING back to the line.
My obstacle course was very simple, but you can add to it or change it to suit your needs.
For our table activity, students completed a fruit coloring page. This one below available for a free download would be a good one to try if you only want to introduce the fruit in THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR.
In addition to being a writer, I have about the best job in the world. I teach 3-6 year olds English in an Italian preschool. I LOVE using picture books in my ESL lessons as introductions to my daily topics, and just because kids love books. My goal with this blog isn't to highlight the most "of-the-moment" picture books, but rather to present books that work well for ESL learners and that are accessible to teachers living all around the world. If you're an ESL teacher who loves books, then this blog is for you.