And Eric Carle Preschool Theme could last all year long!
Eric Carle is pretty much a preschool and household name when it comes to children's books!
TRIVIA QUESTION #1:
Eric Carle's most famous book was published in 1969.
Can you guess what it is? You will find the answer on this page!
In addition to this famous book, he has illustrated more than 70 books.
Most of these books Eric Carle authored as well!
Choose some of your favorites for this week, 2-week or month long preschool theme!
Before we begin planning:
Here is Trivia Question #2 for you!
Eric Carle had created a red lobster for an advertisement he was hired to do. A famous author saw the advertisement, loved it! This author contacted Mr. Carle and asked him to illustrate a new book he had written.
Do you know who this famous author was?
(Again, the answer can be found on this page!)
I have tried to include activities to go along with many of Eric Carle's books. There are just so many (over 50 in still in print right now!) to choose from! I may have to add more later!
You can either scroll down through this page to see all of the preschool activities for your theme or click the link below to go to specific preschool lesson plans and activity types you are looking for.
Eric Carle's use of water color and collage are pretty amazing! Get creative and see what items your preschoolers' can use to create with!
Materials Needed: tissue paper, watered-down white glue, white construction paper.
The children create their own collage with the tissue paper. I find it easier if the children "paint" the glue on their paper first and then place the tissue paper.
VARIATION: Place small pieces of tissue paper into a tray, bin cover or cookie sheet.
The children "paint" their paper with glue. They then flip the paper over and press into the tray of tissue paper (or other collage materials)
Provide a variety of textured materials for the children to paint with:
When providing different mediums to paint with, provide a variety of tools to paint with such as:
Materials Needed: White paper (either precut into circles or encourage the children to cut their own circle as best they can!) or paper plates; googly eyes, bingo daubers.
The children cut their circle and then paint it with red paint. They use the daubbers to put black dots on the lady bug and then glue on googly eyes.
After reading The Very Busy Spider, have the children create their own webs.......and spiders!
Spider and Webs
Materials Needed: White glue, black, sturdy tagboard, glitter, chenille pipe cleaners, googly eyes and scissors
To make the webs:
Place glitter in sprinkle containers. You can use cleaned and sterilized spice containers or salt and pepper shakers! I find them at the local dollar store!
Encourage the children to create their webs by squeezing glue onto the black paper...all over the paper! This is great for the development of their hand muscles and for their eye-hand coordination.
When they are done, they shake glitter all over their papers. (A co-teacher of mine actually had cookie sheets set up for the children to place their papers into. When they were done shaking the glitter, the extra fell into the cookie sheet and we could put it back into the containers! Miss Diane is truly brilliant about such things!!!)
To make the spiders:
Give the children pipe cleaners of different colors (remember, spiders are not always black spiders! Let them create! Show them some non-fiction spider books!).
The children can bend and roll the cleaners into a circle (or as one of our children called them, "spider blobs"!). They can then cut smaller pieces off (or you can cut them in advance) and attach them to the spiders for legs.
Encourage the children to count the legs.......spiders have 8!!
The children can use the spiders to "walk" on their webs when the webs have dried.
Cloud Making!After reading Little Cloud, follow up with these fun ideas for cloud art!
Measure equal amounts of shaving cream and glue into a bowl for each child. Encourage THEM to mix it up.
They use this to paint on tagboard. It is like a puffy paint!
This is a variation on the puffy paint. Place shaving cream and glue in many bowls. Add a different color to each bowl and mix.
The children create different colors of clouds to represent sunsets or sunrises!
Just squirt shaving cream on your tables and let the children create clouds and experience the feel of the shaving cream.
After reading The Foolish Tortoise, make some shells! Here are a few ideas!
Provide paint in various colors and rocks of various sizes for the children to create their own shells.
Provide paper/foam bowls. Invert them and have the children glue tissue paper on them to create their own shells.
The Greedy Python, create some snakes to decorate your room with!
Draw a circle on white paper as shown.
Cut out the shape.
Give to children.
Have children flip paper over and decorate. There are many materials they can use to do this such as:
When done/dry, enourage children to cut along the bold line on the back to create the snake/python.
Glue on googly eyes and hang on the wall or from the ceilings!
* In the picture example, I actually colored it before I cut out the shape. I think cutting out the main shape first would be best.
Moon ArtAfter reading Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me (This one is the book and CD!), provide materials for the children to make their own moons!
Some ideas for this are:
Just let the children use paint to create their own moon and ladder to reach the moon!
Provide playdough in different colors for the children to create the moon and create ladders or other scenes from the story.
You can also provide playdough tools to use including moon and star shaped cookie cutters!
Here is my favorite, new type of dough to make!
Lambs and Butterflies!
Provide the children with cotton balls to glue onto a lamb shape
Provide the children with white, blue, gray and pink tissue paper to create their own lamb collage (don't forget the googly eyes!).
There are SO many options for this! Here are my top choices:
Have the chilren color (completely) a coffee filter using large, washable markers.
Have them spray the coffee filter with water (it creates a cool tye-dye effect!).
Clip the middle of the filters with a clothespin.
Have the children draw eyes on the clip.
Provide tempera paint and white paper. Draw a butterfly shape on the papers.
Encourage the children to develop their scissor skills by cutting, as best they can, on the bold lines you've drawn.
Fold the paper in half, so the children only see the left or right half of the shape.
The children paint that side of the shape.
Unfold the paper. Fold the unpainted side on top of the painted side.
Have the children press down on the paper.
When they open it, they will see the mirror image of their designs!
Our children wanted to make multiples of these so be prepared!
For more butterfly ideas, you can check out my Caterpillars and Butterflies Theme page by clicking here!
In advance, cover many of your unit blocks with different colors of tissue paper, wrapping paper, etc.
Add different animals or critters to coincide with the books you are reading during this theme.
Place many Eric Carle books in your Block Center during this theme!
In my research I came across some great puzzles for this theme! You can read more about them by clicking the pictures below!
Circle Time is such a great time for children to learn the social skills of being together as a large group AND to learn more about your theme!
Whenever you do an author theme, talk with the children about what, exactly, an author is and what an illustrator is! Eric Carle was BOTH! Sometimes he authored and illustrated books, sometimes he only illustrated books!
Our Class as Authors!
What is an author is a person who creates a new story about something. That something might be real (non-fiction), or pretend (or fake, or fiction).
Let's write our own story together!
Work with your preschoolers to write a cooperative story. What you do is YOU start a story. For example, if you just read From Head to Toe, you might say:
"Once upon a time there was a gorilla at preschool...." You then have each child take a turn adding a part to the story. Ask another teacher or a parent to write the story down AND to write down who said each part!
It might go something like this:
"Once upon a time there was a gorilla at preschool." (Miss Cheryl)
"The gorilla wanted to play with the blocks but he kept knocking them over not on accident." (Joey).
"The kids gotted mad at the him and told him to leave." (Maria)
"He was sad. He cried. I told him I could play with him if he was nice." (Allie).
You see what I mean!
When done, encourage the children to illustrate their part of the story in small groups! You might do that the same day or another day! See the next activity!
Our Class as Illustrators!
After creating a group (cooperative) story, read the story to the children.
Tell them that now they are going to be illustrators!
An illustrator is a person who creates the art that goes in the books!
Throughout the day, meet with each child as they are at your writing table, easel, art table.
Read their part of the story and ask them to draw, paint, etc. what they think that would look like so you can put it in a book!
When done with the cooperative story, put it together in a class book. This book will become the hit at Circle Time and in the Library.
EXTENSION: I recommend getting colored copies of the book made so each child has a copy to take home at the end of your unit!
Read, Read, Read!
Take time during this unit to read two or more of Eric Carle's books during Circle Time.
You might choose books that are related in theme (such as The Grouchy Ladybug and The Very Busy Spider.....both critters!) or that are related in the same type look with regard to the illustrations.
Point those things out to the children or better still.........
After reading a couple of books, hang a chart up at Circle Time.
Print the name or place a picture of the books you read, one on the left one on the right.
Ask the children the following questions and record their answers on the chart:
What things were the same in the stories we read today?
What things were different?
Let's vote on our favorites. Who liked __________ (name of book) the best? Who liked ___________ (name of book) the best.
NOTE: Many times, preschoolers don't "get" voting and will vote for BOTH books! Instead, have the children stand on one side if they liked book A and the other if they liked book B better. If they can't choose, have a 3rd spot for those who liked "them both the same" and then record the number of votes!
After reading The Very Clumsy Click Beetle, have some jumping fun!
Jump Over, In, Side to Side!
Discuss that, much like the Beetle in the story, we all can do different things. Have the children practice some hopping and jumping.
Encourage them to:
There are many items available to use at Circle Time for this theme that can also be used throughout the year!
Click the pictures below to read more about a few of my favorites!
Cooking with children helps develop their math skills and helps them to learn how to follow directions. It also allows for some great conversation! Ask many questions while cooking with your children to encourage conversation! Be sure to ask specific themed questions while making these fun snacks!
After reading Walter the Baker, make some pizza!
Provide pizza dough for the children to work, squish, manipulate and taste!
Show them how to help roll it out.
Add sauce and cheese and make pizza for snack!
After reading Pancakes, Pancakes!, make some!
Lead the children in helping to make some pancake mix.
As an adult cooks the pancakes, have the children help to cut up some fresh fruit.
Have pancakes topped with fruit and whipped cream or syrup! Yum!
Make homemade butter with the children as another adult cooks the pancakes! Pour some whipping cream into a clean, baby food jar.
Cover and shake! (It takes about 5 minutes! Have the kids take turns shaking and counting to 10!). Pour off the excess liquid. Add a pinch of salt.
Welcome to the Zoo!
Turn your Dramatic Play Center into a zoo! Add stuffed animals, boxes for beds, doctor sets to help any sick animals, bins with pretend food to feed the animals, etc.!
Set up a Bread Bistro Bakery in your dramatic play area during your Eric Carle Preschool Theme!
This will compliment the stories Walter the Baker and Pancakes, Pancakes!
I have a FREE resource packet that has signs, menus and order forms for your preschoolers to use!
Click here and choose the FREE BREAD RESOURCE PACK from the page!
Children LOVE celebrating birthdays! After reading the stories The Secret Birthday Messageand Hello, Red Fox, set up a birthday party enviroment in Dramatic Play!
The Birthday Party
Set up your area with birthday crowns, pretend cake, games and don't forget to invite Mama and Little Frog, Red Fox, Orange Cat and the other characters to the party by providing stuffed animals!
For more ideas for this, check out my Birthday Theme page by clicking here!
Provide liquid watercolor paint to your easel this week to paint with! The colors are so vibrant and beautiful! My favorite is Colorations..Colorations Liquid Watercolor can be found at Discount School Supply. Click the link or the picture below to check them out! They have GREAT deals going on all the time!
After reading The Mixed-Up Chameleon, let the children experiment with color!
Wait...Where Did It Go?
Provide tempera paint and a bingo daubber with black paint in it.
Let the children create their own chameleon and then use the daubbers to make its eyes!
After reading The Mountain That Loved a Bird, encouarge the children to create mountains!
Up and Down the Mountain
Provide different shades of blue, black, gray and white watercolor paint.
Encourage the children to make their own mountain. Use spatial words as they use their muscles, "Up to the top of the mountain. Down to the bottom. The bird can fly over the mountain." Etc.
After reading Draw Me a Star, provide stars to paint!
The Many Colored Stars
You can either predraw stars on the paper or--and this is my preference---create (in advance) large star stencils.
Have the children trace them onto the easel paper and cut out (the more practice they have with these skills the better!).
Then have them paint their stars at the easel using tempera or watercolor paint!
VARIATION: Provide glue for the children to paint on their paper and a cup of tissue paper (variety of colors) for them to stick on.
It's great to do this at the easel rather than the art table for a change!
Encourage them to paint the entire paper first (or give them glue sticks).
We have a new perspective about art from standing up!
Provide buckets of water and brushes for the children to paint the sidewalk, or your building (if it is brick) with! It's awesome to see the designs and then see them evaporate!
Caterpillar, Caterpillar, Butterfly!
Play duck, duck goose using the words Caterpillar, Caterpillar, Butterfly instead!
After reading the book The Secret Birthday Message, go on a treasure hunt of your own!
Include other props and furniture (such as going under and around chairs) for the children to go on a hunt for a surprise!
If you don't have a crawl tunnel, I HIGHLY recommend that you invest in one!
You will use it ALL YEAR LONG for gross motor development! You can use them as a way for the children to come into the classroom once in a while for a fun surprise. Use them for some indoor play time on inclement weather days. There are so many uses!
I use the first one (on the left). Here are just a few choices from Amazon. They range in size and price. My favorite is the first one (on the left) and it has been used for YEARS! Click on any of the pictures to read about each one!
In the book Chip Has Many Brothers, Chip takes a long and dangerous journey to get medicine that will help cure his sister.
Another Treasure Hunt Idea!
Create a scavenger hunt to find the props from your play doctor's kit to help a baby doll from your classroom.
Have pieces of sidewalk chalk as the prize! As children find them, they can draw on the sidewalk!
After reading Have You Seen My Cat?, play a fun sorting game outside! (This link is for the "slide and peek" board book version, which is SO much fun! The "non-peek" version is beautiful and shows Eric Carle's great illustrations and can be seen by CLICKING HERE.)
Find the Cat!
Hide many different types of stuffed animal or toy cats outside. As the children find them, they can sort them by type of cat!
After reading Where Are You Going? To See My Friend!, act out this story outside!
Let's Go See My Friend!
Provide stuffed animals for the children to hold while they reenact this story: a dog, cat, rooster, goat, and rabbit. (Or create or purchase masks for them to wear).
Throughout this Eric Carle Preschool Theme page, you will find at least 40 of Eric Carle's books referenced by me! However, there are SO many more! Here are some books I have not referenced that would be great to have available in your Preschool Library for this theme all by Eric Carle!CLICK HERE for a list of Eric Carle books from Amazon where you can read about each book and see what they have to offer for those books you'd prefer to purchase than borrow from the library!
If you can not use food, provide buttons for them to sort as pretend chocolate chips.
Of course, an Eric Carle Preschool Theme would not be complete without an activity or two to follow up with The Very Hungry Caterpillar book!
Provide a few bowls of pom poms.
Encourage the children to create caterpillar bodies from them.
Encourage the children to create colored patterns.
Encourage children to create caterpillars using a specific number of pom poms. You could create number cards and place them in a pile face down.
They choose one card and create a caterpillar using that number of pom poms.
I found a couple of fun resources over at Amazon for an Eric Carle Preschool Theme! Click the pictures below to read more about them:
In advance, find zoo animals and farm animals (as listed in the stories) from magazines or online. Print and laminate them (make some duplicates).
Provide the book and have the children find the animals as they "read" the story to themselves in small groups!
After reading Eric Carle's Animals Animals provide some animal sorting math fun!
Provide math sorters that represent different animals as in the book! You might set out one type each day such as sea animals one day and pets another. Or you may just want to provide some of each and let the children sort by type of animal (land, sea, pet, wild, etc.).
Here are some of my favorites to have in the classroom! Click on the pictures to read more about them!
After reading My Apron, encourage your preschoolers to participate in their own Work Project like the little boy in the story!
Have the children help you make your favorite homemade playdough recipe OR provide them with colored modeling clay.
Provide playdough toys and let them create their own work of art!
Encourage them to count as they measure and stir as well as count as they cut pieces of dough or clay!
After reading Does a Kangaroo Have a Mother, Too?, encourage more comparing and matching of mothers and babies in nature!
Mother and Baby Matching Game
EXTENSION: Make enough cards for each child to have a pair of each mother/baby animal.
Create bingo type cards with all of the animals on them.
When you show a card, they match it to thier board.
Eric Carle Preschool Theme Happy and You Know It Song!
Sing the traditional If You're Happy and You Know It song, but replace it with characters from Eric Carle's books. The children then act out that character.
Let the children tell you their favorite Eric Carle book or character and include that in this song and dance! (Place the books around your area so they can see them!).
After looking at and discussing I See a Song, have the children act out each page!
I See and Move Like a........
This is a wordless book! Your children will observe and then act out the items from the story such as a leaf, a bow, a "many-colored figure", the violinist and more!
After reading the story Today Is Monday, sing the song with the children.
Today Is Monday Song
Add the food props from the story using pretend food for the children to hold and use!
Read From Head to Toe with the children and talk about the things the animals do in the story.
Fit From Head To Toe
Play games as in the story. Some ideas:
Read the story "Slowly, Slowly, Slowly," said the Sloth with the children.
When done, "assign" the children a character to play from the book.
When you play music, have the children all move and dance like that animal.
Pause the music and assign them different characters to pretend to be.
I find this is easier if you print out and laminate pictures of each animal and give them to the children.
Make duplicates so you have enough for each child.
Add the following to your water table:
See what shapes your children observe and create to go along with the story ITALIC Little Cloud.
Have you ever microwaved soap? I highly recommend that you stock up on Ivory Soap (the original type) because after you do this ONCE, it will be your favorite new science activity!
I have seen many videos and think.......wow, how cool! But until writing this theme, had never tried it myself! IT IS AWESOME! Make this for your Sand and Water Table!
NOTE: This ONLY works with Ivory Soap!
More Textured Clouds
You can then add some water (use warm water) and toilet paper to the above microwaved soap and smoosh it all together for clean mud!
Here are the approximate amounts of toilet paper and water you will need depending on how many bars of soap you use:
Be a Baker!Help the children become bakers after reading Walter the Baker!
Provide cornstarch and water. Let the children scoop spoonfuls of each into the table and mix.
This makes goop. It is hard once mixed but when they hold it in their hands, their body warmth "melts" it between their fingers!
How About Dough?
This is a different type of dough. Let the children add baking soda, salt, dish detergent and water in the table.
I premeasured the following into separate bowls and then let each child add some of each!
Have the children use their hands to mix this all together. It feels awesome!
Add about 2 cups of water.
Again, have them mix with their hands!
Now, they should be able to mold this all together
EXTENSION: When you are done playing with it, give the children pipettes (eye droppers) and vinegar for some fizzy fun!
This is a great activity to do after reading Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me (this one is the book and CD)!
To make your own moonsand
You could add powdered tempera paint to make different colors as well.Or, you can purchase it! Amazon has a TON of choices!!!
Find an Animal Friend
Provide different types of boats: plastic, some made from craft sticks, aluminum foil boats (some with holes!) and see what happens when there is a hole!
In addition, provide strainers, water wheels and more for fun water play.
VARIATION: Provide sand and sticks, pipettes, water spray bottles, etc. Let the children wet the sand and make rivers in the sand, create sand castles, try to create a wall that doesn't leak, etc.
AFter reading The Very Lonely Firefly, provide some fun discovery jars!
Make a few discovery jars or bottles made with water and place glow sticks in them. Seal the jars. Provide flashlights and a nighttimme space, such as a small tent or blanket fort for the children to see them glow in!
Make some fairy jars. I must admit, I have NOT tried this yet, but it looks fun!
Here's an example:
This is a great follow up to 10 Little Rubber Ducks!
Preschool Duck Race
Place rubber ducks in your water table to float around.
For math or letter fun, in advance, print numbers or letters on the bottoms of each duck with a sharpie. (Make 2 of each number or letter).
The children can now play a floating, matching game!
Ladybug Observations!After reading The Grouchy Ladybug, observe some live ladybugs in your classroom!
I LOVE the ones below......just keep in mind, they will be a bit dormant when you receive them. I, being the city girl that I am, thought most of them arrived "dead". It was sad. I placed the ones who did not survive the trip outside. Let's just say that when we went out to play later, I thought we created an infestation in our town! They were flying around everywhere!
After reading the story Watch Out! A Giant! let your children create a trap!
Big, Giant Trap!
Provide the children with recyclable materials and glue. Let them create either a giant, or a trap for a giant!
This is a great way for them to learn about opposites, spatial relationships and more!
Color Mixing #1
Eric Carle is KNOWN for his great use of bright colors! Let's experiment with color!
For this first experiment you will need:
Another discussion idea (I did this recently in Sunday school)--we connected the colors to emotions.
Red is when we feel really, really angry! (Make an angry face, clench fists and shake a little bit). Drop some red into the milk. Ask the children what they could do when they are that angry (walk away, take a breath/don't hit or yell, etc.).
Green is when we are jealous or envious like when someone else is using a toy we really, really want. Drop some green into the milk. Ask the children to brainstorm some ways to take turns instead of taking a toy from others.
Blue is when we feel kind of sad. Maybe someone said something that hurt your feelings. Drop some blue into the milk. Ask the children what they can do when they are sad? (Cry, talk to their friend, ask a grown-up to help talk out their problem, etc.)
Yellow-this is when all these feelings mix together: angry, jealous, sad. Drop some yellow into the milk. When all these feelings mix together, it can make us feel sick or yucky in our tummies. It's important that we find ways to talk with others when we have a problem so that we are not feeling like this.
When we do, it helps us to get along with our friends and THAT can make us very, very happy! Like our milk!
Now........drop in 5 or 6 drops of dish detergent and watch!
The colors all swirl around on their own and the kids LOVE this!
Color Mixing #2
You will need: clear cups (we used lots and lots of paint cups!), pipettes, water, food coloring and a big bin to empty the cups into.
In advance, place many clear cups in a row with water and food coloring...make many different colors of water.
Give each child their own cup with water in it (about 1/4 cup full) and a pipette.
Tell them they are color scientists! They are going to drop different colors into their cups and see what colors they can create!
They love this! Eventually their water turns muddy. Let them empty into the big bin and start over if time allows.
EXTENSION: We gave the children child sized goggles to wear to be scientists for fun!
Follow up the reading of The Tiny Seed by planting with the children!
Sorting and Planting
Provide small cups, soil, seeds and water for them to plant seeds.
Provide lima beans, paper towels, spray water bottles and ziplock baggies. The children place a few beans in a paper towel, fold the paper towel, spray it with water until it is completely wet, place in baggie and hang on a window (using tape) that gets a lot of sunlight. They should sprout in about a week.
Read A House for Hermit Crab and then check some out!
Hermit Crab Fun!
I love the children's reactions to hermit crabs! Bring a few in for the children to observe! For information on Hermit Crabs--what they need, their behavior, where I get mine, etc., go to my Hermit Crab Page by Clicking Here!
In some programs, crustaceans are not allowed in the classroom. If this is the case, consider looking for a hermit crab video to show; teach the kids how to walk like a crab and make some hermit crabs by painting some rocks to look like them!
After reading The Very Quiet Cricket Board Book, go and get some!
What's That Sound?
You can find crickets at your local pet supply store. They are fun to watch hop around and listen to! Have the children keep journals by providing paper stapled together with construction paper covers for them to draw thier observations!
One of the Circle Time activities was to write a cooperative story together. Help the children to illustrate the story and print their names on it here!
Write to Eric Carle
Have the children write a letter to Eric Carle! They can write individual or group letters! Have them print their name and any words or letters they want about their favorite book and then illustrate it!
His mailing address is:
P.O. Box 485
Northampton, MA 01060
My DayAfter reading some of the stories from All in a Day, have your children write and illustrate something about their day.
Encourage them to draw a picture and then print the words or names they can such as: Mom, Dad, dog, me, and their name!
Or Me and whoever is important in their life! Read the story Mister Seahorse to the children.
Me and Dad
It is a story of fish fathers caring for thier soon-to-be children! Provide watercolor paints, markers, colored pencils or crayons and stencils and stickers for them to illustrate their own story of them!
After reading The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse, encourage your children to create a creature, paint it any colors they want and dictate a story to you about it!
MY Colored Creature!
I found the following in my perusing through Amazon! Click on either of the pictures below to read more!
If you live in Massachusetts, a trip to the Eric Carle Museum might be in your future and the perfect compliment to your Eric Carle Preschool Theme!!
Or, check out all of the information on the Museum's website!
There are a couple of books that you might really enjoy about Eric Carle! Click the pictures below to read about each one!