The Very Hungry Caterpillar 50th Anniversary Celebration

Today I’ve got another fabulous guest post to share! I saw Maggie’s pictures on Instagram and was hooked. Check out the The Very Hungry Caterpillar 50th Anniversary Celebration event she put on! Maggie Salisbury has worked as a Children’s Librarian at the Floyd County Public Library in Prestonsburg, Kentucky for the past four years. You can follow her blog, The Podunk Librarian, at her website, Pinterest, and on Instagram.

2019 marks the 50th anniversary of Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar. When a classic book reaches a milestone, it’s always cause for celebration at the library! Not only is it a fun and easy draw for patrons, but we’re reiterating that books are important; they have value, they’ve been around a long time and they’re not going anywhere.

The event was planned with the target age group of the book in mind. In an effort to present different activities that were both fun and educational while still celebrating The Very Hungry Caterpillar, we had six different activity stations.

Station 1. Hole Punch Practice: Here, children could practice fine motor skills while recreating illustrations from the book. This free printable at Books and Giggles allowed the kids to first color the fruit eaten by the hungry caterpillar, then punch holes in them, Eric Carle-style.

Station 2. Caterpillar Crowns: this idea came from Libraryland (there’s a template there too!). Kids could be creative and festive putting together these fun hats.

Station 3: Memory Game: this free printable from Playdough to Plato used familiar images from the story. Besides being fun, memory games are great for improving concentration, training visual memory, and increasing attention to detail. It’s also fun as a group activity!

Station 4: Ornaments: Another fun craft, and something that the older siblings in attendance got excited about as well. These magic scratch art ornaments were purchased from Oriental Trading, which always has a great selection of Eric Carle crafts and decorations.

Station 5: Butterfly Viewing Station: About three weeks before the event, we ordered an Eric Carle Butterfly Kit from Insect Lore. The cup of caterpillars were observed and discussed in Story Times leading up to the event, and children that visited the library could see the caterpillars as they grew, made cocoons, and finally became butterflies, just in time for our big event. More information about butterfly life cycles was also on display at this station.

Station 6: Caterpillar Putt-Putt: Feed the hungry caterpillar! We made this game ourselves and plan to reuse it for our Library Mini Golf. Kids usually went for this first station first!

Because events of this nature are usually heavily attended, these stations were set up as self-initiated and patrons were free to move to stations as they pleased. To include the actual reading of the story in this format, we utilized our projector. There we played a loop of The Very Hungry Caterpillar animated story and a video of Eric Carle reading the book that continued throughout the duration of the program.

To truly make the event feel like a birthday party for The Very Hungry Caterpillar, we included party favors and cake. We purchased The Very Hungry Caterpillar treat boxes filled with a bouncy ball, sticker, tattoo, and bubbles from Oriental Trading. We also included some coloring pages we printed ourselves.

Whenever possible, I try to encourage photo opportunities and present “Instagrammable” aspects to programs. It’s an easy way to get patrons to tell friends about programs and indirectly advertise the library on social media. We used our poster printer to print the final image of the story, a beautiful butterfly. This doubled as a decoration and a photo op—we put out a step stool so kids could give themselves wings for a fun picture. Our other decoration was a balloon caterpillar put together with a low temp hot glue gun.

The event was well attended, and because of the timelessness of this book, the activities could easily be reused for future programs. Some could even be adapted for Story Times or school visits. Long live The Very Hungry Caterpillar!

6 thoughts on “The Very Hungry Caterpillar 50th Anniversary Celebration

  1. On the very hungry caterpillar butterfly website it states that they do not ship to Canada. How did you manage to order it?

    1. Oh, this is a guest post by someone in the U.S. I always run into that problem! What item are you looking for specifically? Sometimes I have luck on amazon.ca.

  2. This is brilliant. Thank you so much for sharing! We have it on our calendar to do a VHC program this summer and this gives me more ideas. Thank you!

  3. This post couldn’t be better timed Lindsey! I’m doing a VHC birthday program this summer to coincide with Eric Carle’s birthday. Thanks for the great ideas!

  4. Thank you so much for this complete and very creative approach to Eric Carle’s birthday celebration. I plan to use several of the ideas. I have made my own rather primitive but fun very hungry caterpillar puppet using plush baby toys found at the thrift store. I used two character toys. One was the caterpillar and the other was the fabric from a grouchy ladybug baby toy. One side is the caterpillar and when you flip it upside down it becomes the butterfly. It is not perfect but I intend on using it to tell the story. I also made an i-movie using props (the food, the tree, etc.) Your ideas are great. Jbrary is my “go to” when planning programs.

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