Well, I've told you about Dr. Seuss week, and it was such a big hit that I decided to turn around and do an Eric Carle themed week the very next week. The author choice was spurred by a couple of things. One - the next week's theme in our Picture Book Preschool was bugs, and there were a few Eric Carle books on the week's list. We also have several Eric Carle games, and I liked how we used themed items the week before. So there it was.
We read many, many Eric Carle picture books in that week, including all of the standard books - The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Grouchy Ladybug, Walter the Baker, Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me are all titles that we own (among others). We also checked books out of both of our local libraries (our public library and a school library that we are lucky enough to have access to). Our family probably had between 15 and 20 individual titles in our book pile that week!
Here are some other resources we used that week. We borrowed a puppet kit from our public library which included the book Mister Seahorse and a seahorse puppet. We had a stuffed ladybug that went along with Carle's book The Grouchy Ladybug. At our house, we also have a Very Hungry Caterpillar puzzle, an Eric Carle's ABC game, and a Very Hungry Caterpillar Card Game (again, keep in mind that I was a children's librarian for many years - I tend to collect this sort of stuff!). I mentioned the Reading Rockets website in connection with our Dr. Seuss week, and there is a Very Hungry Caterpillar Family Literacy Packet. I did print it out, but forgot that I had it, so we didn't use it. I do really like the Reading Rockets Family Literacy packs, so I recommend it.
We did two activities related to Eric Carle's books. The first one was related to Walter the Baker. We read the book, in which the baker is asked by the king and queen to make a roll that the sun can shine through three times. In frustration, he creates a pretzel. After reading the book, we made pretzels using the recipe from Hungry Monkey by Matthew Amster-Burton. If you haven't read this book, it is a stay-at-home dad's cooking memoir (he is also a food critic), and he tries some really cool foods with his daughter. My one negative comment is that the recipes are created using a food scale, and my first attempt to make pretzels with 8 ounces of flour without a scale wasn't so successful! But the girls and a friend enjoyed rolling out the pretzel snakes to then create the pretzel shapes. We talked about making the sun shine through three times while we made them. In fact, each time we've made pretzels subsequently we've had the same conversation. The biggest plus about the recipe from this book is that it can be made in under 2 1/2 hours (including rising time) and the ingredients are so standard that they are in my pantry at all times. This activity was definitely a success!
We also tried to create pictures in the Eric Carle method. First, we read Draw Me a Star (warning - this book is about the creation of the world and does have naked humans in it). I chose this book because it had a nice large sun in it, and I had decided that's what we would create. There are lots of other Eric Carle books with suns in them, though, so feel free to use something else! We started early in the morning creating the papers. The girls got white paper and yellow and orange paint. They just spread the paint across multiple pieces of paper, trying to cover as much of the paper as possible. Eric Carle uses tissue paper when he does his collage, but I thought that wouldn't hold up as well to toddler fingers. We let those pieces dry until after naps. Then we cut the paper into smaller pieces to use in our sun collage. I traced a plate for the sun, and then cut strips for the sun's rays. At this point in the day, the girls weren't so interested in creating the collage. I had to really talk Frances into finishing, and Gloria ended up using a pencil to just scribble all over the paper. But I think in another year they will be more developmentally able to follow the project all day. If you're interested in doing something like this, Carle has several books with descriptions of his work process on the back of the title page, or in his author's note. There is also a book (which I just remembered I own!) called You Can Make a Collage produced by Klutz Press. This book has some tissue papers created by Eric Carle himself, so you can just cut those up and go for it!
One of the ways in which these themed weeks have been successful for us is in recognizing the authors' work at the library and other places. My girls are likely to call out "Look! It's Eric Carle!" or recognize the Cat in the Hat on the spines of books whenever we're at the library or bookstore. It's fun to see. We will definitely be doing additional weeks - maybe Margaret Wise Brown will be next, as I am a huge MWB fan and have many of her books.
A few other things - in the past few weeks, Kohl's has had the stuffed Eric Carle plushes and books as the $5 option. We are looking forward to receiving some new plushes from friends who live in towns with Kohl's (we, sadly, do not). I would be remiss if I didn't direct you to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art . If you live on the East Coast, it would be worth a trip, but the website is really neat, too. It includes book lists, class information, exhibition information, and a link to the museum shop. It's great.
Finally, on Barnes & Noble's website, there is an online storytime that Frances loves. It's The Very Hungry Caterpillar read by Eric Carle himself. Frances really enjoyed hearing his voice and seeing his picture. This week was a whole lot of fun - let me know if you decide to do something similar! Next up is our birthday-themed week. See you soon!