Eric Carle Preschool Theme

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!

You'll find more themes to help you with your planning on my preschool themes page.

Eric Carle Preschool Theme

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!

Let the Eric Carle Preschool Theme planning begin!

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.

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!)

Eric Carle Preschool Theme Art

Collage Art

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)

When providing different mediums to paint with, provide a variety of tools to paint with such as:


After reading The Grouchy Ladybug book, let the children make their own Ladybugs!

Materials Needed: White paper (either pre-cut into circles or encourage the children to cut their own circle as best they can!) or paper plates; googly eyes, bingo daubers. 

I like this 2-ounce refillable type of bingo/paint daubers They are smaller, easier for the children to hold and we can reuse them!), red paint, brushes, glue

The children cut their circle and then paint it with red paint.  They use the daubers to put black dots on the lady bug and then glue on googly eyes.

Eric Carle Preschool Theme Art Activity

Cloud Making!

After reading Little Cloud, follow up with these fun ideas for cloud art!
  • Colored Clouds

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!

  • Paint Your Tables!  

Just squirt shaving cream on your tables and let the children create clouds and experience the feel of the shaving cream.

Moon Art

After 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:

  • Paint!

Just let the children use paint to create their own moon and ladder to reach the moon!  

  • Playdough

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!

After reading the story The Lamb and the Butterfly, provide areas for the children to make these cute lambs and butterflies!


  • Cotton Ball Lambs (of course!)

Provide the children with cotton balls to glue onto a lamb shape

  • Lamb Collage

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:

  • Coffee Filter Butterflies

Have the children color (completely) a coffee filter using large, washable markers.

Have them spray the coffee filter with water (it creates a cool tie-dye effect!).

Clip the middle of the filters with a clothespin.

Have the children draw eyes on the clip.

For more butterfly ideas, you can check out my Caterpillars and Butterflies Theme page by clicking here!

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Eric Carle Preschool Theme Block Center Ideas

Cool Puzzles

In my research I came across some great puzzles for this theme!  You can read more about them by clicking the pictures below!

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Eric Carle Preschool Theme Circle Time Ideas

ANSWER to Trivia Question #1:  

Which famous book did Eric Carle write and illustrate in 1969?

The Very Hungry Caterpillar!

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!

Class 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.

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!

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Snack Recipe Ideas to Cook Up for Your Eric Carle Preschool Theme!

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!

Pancakes?  YES!

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.


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Eric Carle Preschool Theme Ideas to Transform Your Dramatic Play Area

Preschool Bistro!

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!  

The Birthday Party

Children LOVE celebrating birthdays! After reading the stories The Secret Birthday Message and Hello, Red Fox, set up a birthday party environment in Dramatic Play!

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

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Eric Carle Preschool Theme Ideas for your Easel--
More Than Just Painting (Although that is always THE favorite in our classroom!)

Wait...Where Did It Go?

After reading The Mixed-Up Chameleon, let the children experiment with color!

Provide tempera paint and a bingo dauber with black paint in it.

Let the children create their own chameleon and then use the daubers to make its eyes!

Up and Down the Mountain

After reading The Mountain That Loved a Bird, encourage the children to create mountains!

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.

The Many Colored Stars

After reading Draw Me a Star, provide stars to paint!

You can either pre-draw 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!

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Eric Carle Preschool Theme Large Group Games to Help Your Preschoolers Build Their Muscles While They Have Fun Together!

Water Graffiti

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!

Obstacle Courses

Include 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!  

Find the Cat!

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.)

Hide many different types of stuffed animal or toy cats outside.  As the children find them, they can sort them by type of cat!

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Eric Carle Preschool Theme Ideas for Your Library Area

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!

(I LOVE Amazon, and some of the links below will take you to the Amazon website.  If you do choose to purchase yours through Amazon, they do send me a few cents--which supports my coffee habit! )

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!

Additional Book Ideas for Your Preschool Library

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

Catch The Ball (Play-And-Read Book)

Eric Carle's Dragons, Dragons

Eric Carle's Treasury of Classic Stories for Children by Aesop, Hans Christian Andersen, And....


The Honeybee & the Robber

Let's Paint a Rainbow

My Very First Book of Colors

My Very First Book of Numbers

My Very First Book of Shapes

My Very First Book of Words

What's for Lunch?: A Play-And-Read Book

Why Noah Chose the Dove

You Can Make a Collage: A Very Simple How-To Book with Other (Klutz)

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Eric Carle Preschool Theme Activities to Help Your Preschoolers Develop Their Math Skills and Those Small Muscles in Their Hands!

Eric Carle Preschool Theme Math Activity


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.

Math Resources

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:

Animal Math

After reading 1, 2, 3 to the Zoo and Rooster's Off to See the World, create some animal games!

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!

Math Materials

Here are some of my favorites to have in the classroom!  Click on the pictures to read more about them!

Mother and Baby Matching Game

After reading Does a Kangaroo Have a Mother, Too?, encourage more comparing and matching of mothers and babies in nature!
  • In advance, make color copies, cut out and laminate pictures of the mothers and babies from the stories.  The children can use these to play a matching game.
  • You can also play a game with them.  Hide the Mother animal cards throughout the room.
  • Place the baby cards on a table.  
  • Each child hunts for ONE card.  
  • When they find it, they bring it back to the table and match it with its baby.

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 their board.

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Eric Carle Preschool Theme Music and Movement Activities and Ideas to Get Your Preschoolers Movin' and Groovin'!

I See and Move Like a........

After looking at and discussing I See a Song, have the children act out each page!

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!

Today Is Monday Song

After reading the story Today Is Monday, sing the song with the children.

Add the food props from the story using pretend food for the children to hold and use!

Fit From Head To Toe

Read From Head to Toe with the children and talk about the things the animals do in the story.

Play games as in the story.  Some ideas:

  • Have a child make up a movement and then have the other children copy it!
  • Freeze dance with the children!  They dance when the music is on and freezes when you pause a music CD!
  • Do some yoga moves!

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Eric Carle Preschool Theme Activities For Your Sand and Water Table!

Textured Clouds

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, 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:

  • 1 Bar of Soap:  Add 1/2 to 1 roll of toilet paper
  • 2 Bars of Soap:  Add 3/4 to 1 1/4 rolls of toilet paper
  • 3 Bars of Soap:  Add 1-2 rolls of toilet paper.
  • For water, just add a little bit at a time until the texture is very soft and squishy, like mud (only cleaner!).  

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!

Eric Carle Preschool Theme Sand Table Activity

Find an Animal Friend

After reading Do You Want to Be My Friend? (This one is the board book, hide animals in your sand table for the children to find and identify!

Don't Sink!

After reading The Hole in the Dike, do some boat float activities!

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.

Discover Jars

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 nighttime 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:

Discovery Bottles!

  • And of course, make lots and lots of discovery bottles!
  • Fill bottles with grass and play/toy fireflies and other bugs or insects.
  • Fill bottles with colored water (2/3 full) and vegetable oil (almost to top....leave some room at the top of the bottle for air).  Move it slowly back and forth for waves.
  • Make another like the one above but add some sand.  Shake it up and watch as the sand, water and oil slowly separate into layers again!

Preschool Duck Race

This is a great follow up to 10 Little Rubber Ducks!

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!

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Eric Carle Preschool Theme Science Activities--For Your Preschool Scientists in Training!

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!

Color Mixing 

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!

Sorting and Planting

Follow up the reading of The Tiny Seed by planting with the children!

Provide small cups, soil, seeds and water for them to plant seeds.

Provide Lima beans, paper towels, spray water bottles and Ziploc 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.

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Answer to Trivia Question #2:  
Which famous author contacted Eric Carle to collaborate with him on his new book because of Mr. Carle's red lobster?

Bill Martin, Jr.!  
Thier collaboration resulting in the famous book, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

Writing Activity Ideas for Your Eric Carle Preschool Theme!

Illustrated Stories

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!

My Day

After 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!

Me and Dad

Or Me and whoever is important in their life! Read the story Mister Seahorse to the children.

It is a story of fish fathers caring for their 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!

Fun Resources

I found the following in my perusing through Amazon!  Click on either of the pictures below to read more!

Miscellaneous Activities for Your Eric Carle Preschool Theme!

Field Trip!

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!

For Teachers!

There are a couple of books that you might really enjoy about Eric Carle!  Click the pictures below to read about each one!

Go to the main THEMES PAGE for more theme ideas!

Go to Preschool Plan It's Home Page

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