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Three Preschool Literary Activities: Enhancing the Books of Eric Carle

written by: Tania Cowling • edited by: Amanda Grove • updated: 3/2/2012

Eric Carle is a favorite author and illustrator amongst preschool children. His trademark illustrative style fits in perfectly for Eric Carle activities for preschool. These fun projects are perfect for small hands.

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    Carle's Creations Inspire Learning Fun

    Artist and author Eric Carle uses collage for his illustrations of books. Collage is from the French word coller, which means to glue or paste. Collage uses paper or other materials that are cut or torn and glued to form images. Eric Carle mostly uses colored tissue paper for his collage art, adding extra color with acrylic paints and accents his illustrations with crayons. Carle's creations heightens the learning process by including holes, cutouts, changing surfaces, and moving parts.

    As children view Eric Carle's books, tell them to look carefully at the pictures where he is known to hide his children's names or initials (Rolf and Cirsten) and even hides his dog's name (Tock) and his cats (Mizi and Delicate) as well.

    After reading, it's time to think about Eric Carle activities for preschool, so bring out the art cart and try these few projects.

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    Create Collage Characters

    Butterfly Collage Making collage characters will stretch a child's imagination. Work together to create shapes from paper scraps and make up lives for them. In the process you will practice the beginning sounds of words that are so important in learning to read.

    Materials:

    • sheets of white construction paper
    • colorful tissue paper
    • glue
    • crayons

    Process:

    1. Adult reads any of Eric Carle's books aloud to the children.
    2. Invite children to create characters and draw them on the white paper.
    3. Enhance the drawings by gluing cut or torn tissue paper onto the shape.
    4. Children can name each character and write its name on the paper. Help younger children with this task.
    5. Discuss where the character lives and what it eats. Write down what the child says.
    6. Display the collage characters on a bulletin board or around the room for all to see.

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    Very Hungry Caterpillar Fruit Salad

    The book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, was published in 1969 marking its 40th anniversary in 2009. This book is a classic and teaches a great science lesson about the life cycle from caterpillar to butterfly. This caterpillar loved to eat before he spun his cocoon and awaited his long nap. As you read the story, talk about the fruits the caterpillar ate and make this healthy fruit salad in class together.

    You Will Need:

    • 1 apple
    • 2 pears
    • 3 plums
    • 4 strawberries
    • 5 oranges
    • bunch of mint leaves
    • plastic knives
    • paper or plastic cups

    What to Do:

    1. Together, peel, pare, seed, hull, and section each fruit.
    2. Invite the children to cut the fruits into bite-size pieces using plastic knives.
    3. Put all the fruits together in a big bowl and chill.
    4. Garnish the bowl with a sprig of mint.
    5. Serve children a portion of the fruit salad in paper or plastic cups.

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    Ladybug Play

    Read Eric Carl's book, The Grouchy Ladybug together. In this story, the ladybug wanted to pick a fight with all the animals she met, but then said, "You're not big enough" and flew away. Then she met the whale!

    Make a Ladybug Sculpture

    Cut out cups of a cardboard egg carton. Invite the children to paint the egg cup red. When dry, they can paint a black stripe down the middle of the ladybug's back, a black face, and black dots. Dip a new pencil eraser into black paint for a fun way to print dots. Last, glue on eyes that have been drawn and colored.

    Ladybug Race

    Place a marble inside each ladybug (made above). Hold two ladybugs on the raised end of an inclined wooden board. Release them together. The marbles will roll, moving the ladybugs down the board. Let's see who is the winner? Use caution and supervise children at all times when playing this game with marbles, as they could become choking hazards.

    As you prepare your literary curriculum, visit Eric Carle's website to plan your Eric Carle activities for preschool with his vast variety of books. Carle's website includes his biography, book list, blog, resources, and photo gallery: http://www.eric-carle.com/.

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    Sources

    Activities are from personal experience in the classroom

    Photo courtesy of Tania Cowling, all rights reserved

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