Category Archives: singing

10 Hungry Caterpillar Inspired Activities

To celebrate the 40th birthday of one of the world’s most famous picture books, I have 10 Hungry Caterpillar inspired activities.

  1. clay caterpillarMaths: Build caterpillars from dough or clay. Count the number of segments that make up the caterpillar. Play a matching game – place the correct caterpillar on the leaf with the matching colour or number of segments.

2. Imaginary Play: My eldest followed an enveloping schema for years. She would hoard things in little bags and containers and if you ever left anything around that she could climb into, you would find her inside. On one occasion I left a fabric storage bin in her room. She promptly climbed inside declaring that she was in her cocoon and soon emerged as a beautiful butterfly. Provide material, boxes, play tunnels, blankets, wings and deely boppers.

3. Song and Rhyme: Sing the caterpillar on a leaf song or sit behind your child and pretend to crawl a caterpillar up their back.  Teach them to ask ‘Whose that climbing up the garden wall?’ and you reply in a caterpillar like voice ‘It’s me’ said the caterpillar ‘I’m learning how to crawl’.

4.painting butterflies Paint symmetrical butterfly pictures: I’m sure we all remember these from school days. Paint on one side, fold the paper over to create a symmetrical print on the other.  This can also work well by painting a piece of string, placing it between the folded paper and then pulling it out whilst the paper is still folded.

5. Movement: Read the Hungry Caterpillar and give the children movements to follow during the story. Egg – curl up in a ball, caterpillar – crawl along the floor moving to eat different types of food,  big fat caterpillar – stretch out wide, cocoon – spin slowly then hang their head between their legs, staying very still, butterfly – flap their wings and fly.

6. Discovery – it is a little cold yet but once the weather is warmer, grow your own butterflies. We have done this very successfully using kits from Insectlore. It is fascinating to watch how quickly the tiny caterpillars grow and then instinctively hang upside down. You soon get to recognise when the butterflies are ready to emerge and can feed them indoors for a day or 2 before releasing them into the garden. The species that they use tend to stay within your local area for a few days after being released so you can spot them in the garden.

Find out about the butterflies and caterpillars that can be found in your locality, and print pictures of more exotic species.

7. Food: Make a fruit salad using the fruits eaten by the Hungry Caterpillar or taste some of the more unusual foods he ate.  We are a big juicing family so we are going to make Hungry Caterpillar juice using:

1 apple

2 pears

3 plums

4 strawberries

5 oranges

 8.finger caterpillar Maths: Turn your finger into a crawling caterpillar and measure things in caterpillar steps.measuring caterpillar

9. Outdoors – Grow a butterfly garden. I saw some amazing butterflies in our garden last year that are fairly commonplace in this area. I’m definitely going to learn about how I can attract them this year.

10. Visit a Butterfly Farm. I can highly recommend the butterfly house at Bristol Zoo and Felinwynt Rainforest Centre in West Wales.  In Seattle there is the Butterfly House at the Pacific Science Centre . Feel free to add any recommendations in the comments.

And don’t forget to read the book……

Traditional Childrens’ Parties Promote Communication Skills.

Many of us provide elaborate parties for children under the age of 5 and then find that they are happy just ‘playing’.  I’ve adapted my parties over the years. I found that before the age of 3 my children were happy to have one or 2 friends visit to play games and eat cake. Even when they were a little older they mostly enjoyed a few crafts, games and dancing.

According to a recent study by I CAN the communication charity, my children are not unusual. In a survey of 1500 parents they found that the top 5 party pursuits for under-5’s were:-

  1. Dancing games like Musical Chairs, Musical Statues and Musical Bumps
  2. Party games like Pass the Parcel and Pin the Tail on the Donkey
  3. Playing outdoors with other children
  4. Eating party food
  5. Singing and rhyming  games like the Hokey Cokey and Row, Row, Row Your Boat

I CAN Communication Advisor, Kate Freeman said “The top five activities all involve communicating and socialising with their friends – from pass the parcel, which boosts turn-taking and listening skills to singing and rhyming games like the Hokey Cokey. This type of activity enhances children’s understanding of the structure and meaning of language – and there is no better environment for a child to develop their confidence than with a group of friends and adults in a relaxed and fun setting like a party”. Furthermore, mealtimes and snack times are a fantastic opportunity for young children to continue to develop communication skills.

Fun games to play at parties to develop children’s communication skills include:

  • Singing and rhyming songs – a great way to help children learn vocabulary and have fun making music together
  • Playing clapping games (Pat-a-Cake) –  to help children to develop their coordination, control and movement as well as learning vocabulary and social skills
  • Word Games (Simon Says and I Spy)  – to help to develop children’s vocabulary about the world around them and to listen to instructions  (These games can be adapted to easier versions for younger children)
  • Turn taking games (Pass the Parcel) – to help children to learn when to talk and when to listen
  • Games like musical statues to encourage children to listen carefully.   Listening skills can be developed further by saying ‘Stop’ in a quiet voice instead of pausing the music.
  • Imaginative play like toys’ tea parties  help children to expand their language.

When I was teaching in nurseries we often used to play ‘ring games’ like ‘Farmers in the Den’ and ‘Hokey Cokey’ if we had bad weather and it was difficult for the children to play outside. They were always a firm favourite.  The children also loved playing picnics or tea parties.

I CAN is inviting nurseries, pre-schools, childminders or community groups to take part in their annual fun and educational event . This year I CAN is partnering with Entertainment One to make its pre-school character Humf the brand ambassador. The 2013 Chatterbox Challenge: Mad Chatter’s Tea Party with Humf  asks groups to organise sponsored tea parties where children can join in with popular songs and rhymes to develop their communication skills in an enjoyable way. I organised an event years ago with my pre-school music group. We learned  new songs and the children were awarded stickers and certificates for their achievements.

The singing and rhyming activities for the 2013 Chatterbox Challenge: Mad Chatter’s Tea Party with Humf have been developed by I CAN speech and language therapists and teachers. Lesson plans, which include Humf and his friends in the activities and illustrations, link to key aspects of the new Early Years Foundation Stage including Communication and Language, Physical Development, and Personal, Social and Emotional Development. All the activities are aimed at supporting and developing children’s speech and language skills.

Being involved with the Chatterbox Challenge: Mad Chatter’s Tea Party with Humf encourages children to think about communication, whilst helping support those who find talking and understanding difficult.

Chatterbox Challenge week is 1st – 8th March 2013 and most groups will be holding their Tea Party with Humf during this week, though groups can actually take part at any time during 2013.

To register and get involved in this year’s Chatterbox Challenge: Mad Chatter’s Tea Party with Humf, go to www.chatterboxchallenge.org.uk

There’s a Spider on the Floor – Fun with Rhyme

 

My 2 year old is just beginning to get the hang of rhyme and we often have fun at the dinner table making up rhymes for words. This morning at breakfast the girls found a plastic spider and I remembered a song that I used to sing with the children at nursery.

There’s a spider on the floor, on the floor
There’s a spider on the floor, on the floor
There’s a spider on the floor and it wasn’t there before
There’s a spider on the floor on the floor.

The children then choose where the spider should go next.  My 7 year old chose her head and rhymed it with bed.  This was a bit advanced for my 2 year old but she enjoyed choosing parts of the body – it was a great fun activity,  that they could both join in with at their own level and engaged them for about 10 minutes.  They liked it when I made up funny verses e.g. There’s a spider on my knee please don’t fall in my cup of tea.

Fun like this reminds me of the reasons I like to sit with the kids at mealtimes.