Celebrate The Very Hungry Caterpillar Day (1st day of Spring) on March 20th with kids yoga! This has always been one of my favorite books but I had struggled to come up with ideas on how to use it in kids yoga until I was inspired by the ideas shared by Yogaberries – yoga classes for children & families in Derby. in this discussion we had on the OMazing Kids Facebook page about great books to use in kids yoga. I added & modified several to use with the kids in OMazing Kids yoga at the JD McCarty Center. Here is the lesson plan we use:
- crescent moon
- egg (child’s pose)
- caterpillar (group happy baby pose – lay side by side with arms & legs up and wiggling)
- sun stretch & breath (http://wp.me/p1t7TU-1T , includes link to a video clip & free sun printables)
- apple picking stretch (in easy pose stretch one arm up & across to “pick the apple”. Engage kids imagination by asking “What color is your apple?” Repeat on other side. For all of the “food” items you can use toy food items or copies of the story prop printables. Whether or not I do this depends on the kids I have in the group. Some kids get overstimulated with too many props & others need the props to keep their attention)
- wiggle like caterpillars on tummy around the circle to the next mat to pick the next fruit (pears). Repeat for the rest of the fruits (plums, strawberries & oranges)
- cake (we did a bake the cake sequence similar to what I used for baking a pie in Apple Farmer Annie)
- ice cream scoops partner pose
- pickle (tense face like eating a sour pickle & relax)
- swiss cheese (gyan mudra at eyes to look through the holes)
- salami (woodchopper pose to slice it)
- lollipop (mountain pose like a staight lollipop stick)
- pie (seated angle pose)
- sausage (rock & roll on back like a plump sausage)
- cupcake (blow out the candle breath. For safety, we do not use a real candle….. just pretend)
- watermelon (triangle pose – like the shape of the watermelon slice)
- leaf (tree pose)
- big caterpillar (use Hoberman sphere or hands with Balloon Breath to show the caterpillar getting bigger & bigger)
- cocoon (roll up each child in their mat for Savasana – Note: it’s important to ask each child’s permission & be mindful of their sensory needs when doing this)
- butterfly + affirmation “I am beautiful!”
- could also do some butterfly breathing during Savasana with this prop (or a butterfly beanie baby or small stuffed animal). Place it on the child’s belly so they can watch it “fly” up and down slowly with their breath. (see pic of prop in this album on Facebook: http://tinyurl.com/cl8v7wo)
- for added fun, have colored scarves and explore “flying” fast and slow using the scarves as butterfly wings.
The Imaginations: Fun Relaxation Stories and Meditations for Kids book has a fabulous “If I Could Fly” guided relaxation story that could easily be modified to fit a butterfly relaxation.
More ideas on this mamanaturally blog post.
See this fun yoga story from Cosmic Kids inspired by the book.
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Amanda Ellis, MT-BC
- Caterpillar by Geof Johnson
- Caterpillar, Caterpillar by Kira Willey
- Hungry Caterpillar by The Learning Station
- Butterfly by Bari Koral
- Fly Like a Butterfly by Radiant Child Yoga
- Butterfly on the I Grow with Yoga CD by Childlight Yoga
- Butterfly by Lisa Loeb & Elizabeth Mitchell (great for relaxation)
- Butterfly – on the Musical Yoga Adventures World Journey CD (instrumental with an Asian flair)
- Butterfly (Wings of Light) by Bradley Kirkpatrick (lovely instrumental music)
- Butterfly on the Relax Kids Nature: Enchanting Meditations For All Ages CD (guided relaxation)
- Butterfly Relaxation on the Meditation for Girls CD by Sada (guided relaxation)
- The Goodnight Caterpillar on the Indigo Dreams CD by Stress Free Kids (guided relaxation)
Healthy Eating tunes: Fabulous free tunes from the Eat Like A Rainbow CD by Jay Mankita. My faves are Eat Like A Rainbow, My Food Is Made From Sunshine & Sun, Wind, Soil, And Rain. This award-winning 10 song children’s album about healthy fruits and vegetables is a great teaching tool for kids and families, and is free to download from this site. The songs were originally commissioned by a grant for a joint project of the NY Coalition for Healthy School Food, and the NYC Board of Education (Dept of School Foods): http://eat-like-a-rainbow.bandcamp.com/.
When we do Very Hungry Caterpillar yoga this year I will be adding a fun fruit mindfulness activity.
- Have a real piece of fruit for each child (Note: it’s important to know about any food allergies or dietary restrictions before using food in kids yoga. We will be using small seedless clementines for their “kid-friendly” size. Young kids may not be familiar with the word “clementine” so I will call it an “orange”).
- Hold the orange in your hands with your eyes open. Look at the orange. Is it big or small? What color is it? Does it have any other colors or spots?
- Close your eyes. Hold the orange up to your nose. How does it smell?
- Feel the orange in your hands. Is it heavy or light? Is it bumpy or smooth?
- Hold the orange in your lap. Imagine the tiny orange seed in the ground. Imagine the sunshine that helped the orange to grow on the tree. How does the sunshine feel? Imagine the rain as it fell. How does the rain feel? Imagine the tree where this orange grew. How tall was the tree?
- Imagine all the energy that went into this orange. Imagine the farmer who took care of the orange trees. Imagine all the workers who picked the oranges, who delivered them to the store and who work in the store where we bought the oranges.
- Open your eyes and look at your orange again. Can we eat it like this or do we need to take off the outside peel?
- Let’s take the peel off. And peel off a small orange wedge. (Note: be mindful of kids sensory issues when doing this. Some kids may be hesitant to touch the fruit unpeeled and may prefer to watch. After you unpeel the clementine you can put it in a small ziploc bag or bowl if needed for kids who would be more comfortable experiencing it that way).
- Take a small bite. How does the orange taste? Cool? Sweet? Juicy?
- Close your eyes and take another small bite of orange. Listen to the sound it makes as you chew it in your mouth.
- Take your time. Be curious about this orange and how it is feeling as you eat it.
(adapted from a fruit meditation I learned as part of the fabulous Calm Kids online course I took)
More Resources about “mindful eating”:
- The Yoga 4 Classrooms Card Deck has a wonderful “Eat Smart” card with tips about healthy & mindful eating and a “Tasty Focus” activity on the “Mindful Meditations” card.
- The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook for Kids: Help for Children to Cope with Stress, Anxiety, and Transitions by Lawrence E. Shapiro & Robin K Sprague has a “Mindful Eating” activity.
- The MindUP Curriculum: Grades PreK-2: Brain-Focused Strategies for Learning-and Living by The Hawn Foundation has a “Mindful Tasting” 8-page lesson with great ideas for curriculum connections.
Video of Eric Carle reading the story: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vkYmvxP0AJI
I made story props so kids can interact with the story and experience making the caterpillar eat “through” all the food items. I also created picture symbols to use in a Picture Exchange Communication (PECS) activity or as Aided Language Stimulation. The kids I work with benefit from tapping into those many different learning styles and kids with Autism in particular do well with having visuals to go with a book. Learn more about story props & a list of where to find story prop ideas.
Great free printable story props from the Kizclub website: The Very Hungry Caterpillar story props from Kizclub.com (color version) – 6 page PDF. Also available in a black/white version that is great for coloring or crafts: The Very Hungry Caterpillar story props from Kizclub.com (black & white version) – 6 page PDF
Kids LOVE filling in the repeated line “But he was still ________ (hungry)”! I always have a BIGmack or other single message voice output communication aide available for kids who have limited verbal skills to be able to participate. I record the repeated line & they “say” it by pushing the button with their hand, foot, head, etc…..
In addition to the therapeutic yoga group, I also teach a weekly adapted storytime at the JD McCarty Center. One of our current inpatients is deaf so I am brushing up on my sign language so I can sign key words in the story. Here are a few signs for this story:
used for “food” & “eat”
Plum: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FvZECBsDdkQ – Form the letter P of the sign language alphabet with one hand. Form the other hand into a fist. Hold the fist in front of the chest with the palm facing towards the body. Touch the middle finger of the P to the pinky of the fist. Slide the middle finger across the back of the hand from the pinky finger to the index finger.
(use sign for “candy” for “lollipop” or you could fingerspell it)
Cocoon: http://www.spreadthesign.com/us/96060/cocoon-american-english. After signing “caterpillar”, twirl one index finger down away from the other like a cocoon.
Beautiful: http://www.babysignlanguage.com/dictionary/b/beautiful/ – starting with your dominant hand open, thumb pointing at your chin and fingers pointing up. You complete the sign by rolling your fingers across the front of your face.
Free coloring sheets for several Eric Carle books, including The Very Hungry Caterpillar: Eric Carle coloring sheets (31 page PDF)
Here is an album of butterfly, insect & spring mandalas & coloring sheets on the OMazing Kids Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.343747752342903.95643.174264525957894&type=3
Lots of free Very Hungry Caterpillar stuff: http://www.us.penguingroup.com/static/pages/features/hungrycaterpillar/index.html & a printables pack PDF: http://www.bookitprogram.com/redzone/printables/VHCprintablespack_penguin.pdf. Tons on the Making Learning Fun website: http://www.makinglearningfun.com/themepages/HungryCaterpillarPrintables.htm.
Check out the Eric Carle Pinterest page for TONS of ideas! http://pinterest.com/worldericcarle/
The Very Hungry Caterpillar is featured in “Give Me 20” reading challenge from 3/4 to 4/26/13. Win fun prizes! See their website for rules: http://www.bookitprogram.com/redzone/gm20challenge.asp. Printables: http://www.bookitprogram.com/redzone/gm20challenge_home.asp
Ideas to extend the theme:
Butterfly Butterfly: A Book of Colors by Petr Horacek is another favorite. The peek through die-cuts encourage kids to checkout the next page a the surprise pop-up at the end is beautiful! Love to pair this with The Very Hungry Caterpillar for a butterfly extravaganza 🙂
Engage multiple senses in learning with these fun ideas for using Playdoh to retell the story: http://www.theimaginationtree.com/2012/08/the-hungry-caterpillar-play-dough-story.html & a Sensory Tub: http://www.theimaginationtree.com/2013/02/the-very-hungry-caterpillar-sensory.html.
Adorable playdoh party favor idea:
This “sticky table activity” activity looks SO fun!
Great free Read & Do activity & printable from Official BOOK IT! Program for The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle / the world of Eric Carle TM: http://www.bookitprogram.com/redzone/printables/VHCRead&Do.pdf
Have a discussion about healthy food choices: Download a copy of the Eating Healthy. Growing Strong. parent handout that contains information about healthy eating for young children, as well as ideas for discussing healthy active living using the book The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
Download a very special growth chart developed in collaboration with The Alliance for a Healthier Generation and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Incorporate some “food fun” with this snack idea & printable
Update 4/23/13: Oh how I love this painted rocks idea from Thrive 360 Living!!!! Wish I had the skills to make a set. Creativity isn’t my issue…. I just don’t have the artistic ability to have them come out this beautiful.
Feel free to share any requests you have for kids yoga lesson plan ideas in the comments below or on the OMazing Kids Facebook page!
Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP, IAYT, RCYP-2
Founder of OMazing Kids, LLC – inclusive wellness activities for kids of all abilities
Radiant Child Yoga Certified – Levels 1 & 2
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OMazing Kids LLC is an organization that promotes inclusive wellness activities for kids of all abilities. The blog and social media pages share information about books, DVD’s, CD’s, games and other products specifically designed for kids wellness, mindfulness and relaxation, product reviews & giveaways, lesson plan & activity ideas, research, kids wellness in the news and a connection corner with listings of individuals doing adapted yoga and those offering trainings.
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