If you are new to our site, take a minute to check out these posts to help take the stress out of the mess of creating with your kids!
- 5 Steps to Take the Stress Out of the Mess
- 10 Things You Need to Have for your Kids’ Art Projects
- Plan Ahead: The Secret to No Stress Fun with Your Kids
- Things you probably have at home:
- Paper plates
- Things to buy: Schedule a remind 2 weeks before you want to do this activity to buy supplies
- Pipe cleaners – you need 1 green + 1 red
- Large pom poms – 2 shades of green + red
- Wooden beads – green + red
- Google eyes – you can also draw eyes with a marker
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Ideal Age Range:
This craft is very adaptable for all ages. The larger pompom version is best for younger children since they can manipulate the bigger pompoms more easily. (Always watch things like small beads + google eyes with young children.)
Not that messy. The glue is the only potential mess.
5 minutes to gather + organize supplies.
Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar has been a favorite in our house since my oldest was a baby. (If you don’t have a copy, I highly recommend getting one before you do this craft.) As you can see from the pictures, ours has been well-loved.
This activity is very adaptable to all ages. The larger caterpillar is great for younger children since the pompoms are easier to manipulate. The bead caterpillar is a great semi-independent project for older kids. You will see directions for both projects together (and supplies for both above), but you don’t need to do both together.
Large Caterpillar – Pompoms
- Squirt a quarter-sized amount of glue onto a paper plate (to make it easier for your toddler to access).
- Using two shades of green, dip one side of the pompom in glue and press to another pompom (alternate the shades of green as shown in the picture below). Repeat to create a body of 4 pompoms.
- If you only have one shade of green, not a problem (I won’t tell your kids!)
- You might need to add some extra glue to make them stick – for whatever reason our green stuck together but the red was trickier!
- Dip the red pompom into glue and attach to the green body.
- Cut the red pipe cleaner into 2 small pieces (about 1″ long). Put a large glob of glue onto the top of the red pompoms, and press the red pipe cleaner pieces in to create antennas.
- Our large pompoms were fluffy enough that I could separate the fuzz in a line and fill it with glue. Once I put the pipe cleaners in there, I pressed the fuzz back together and it held the pipe cleaners in place until the glue dried.
- Press on 2 google eyes to finish your caterpillar
- Our eyes were self-stick, but we needed to add glue to get them to stay.
- You can also skip the google eyes and draw eyes onto the pompom using a marker.
Small Caterpillar – Beads
- Bend your green pipe cleaner in half.
- Add the red bead for the caterpillar’s head. Position it about 1.5″ from the two open ends.
- Add about 7 green beads to create the body. (You can adjust to make it longer or shorter). Wrap the looped end of the pipe cleaner under the last bead to secure it.
- To create the antennas, fold the two open ends under the red bead, and then pull up from behind the red bead and curl them a bit (see picture below).
- Alternately, you can cut another 2″ piece of pipe cleaner to make separate antennas. Snip the open end of the pipe cleaner leaving about 1/4″, fold that under the red bead to secure (like you did on the back end). Then make a “U” shape with the 2″ piece between the red and first green bead. Wrap the pipe cleaner around one full time to secure, then curl the two pieces to make them look like antenna.
- Place google eyes on the red bead, positioning them to hide the green pipe cleaner in the front. (We needed to add glue to our eyes to secure.)
- You can also skip the google eyes and use a marker to draw eyes onto the red bead.
For both sizes, you can add a nice green leaf (or cut this step out if you don’t want to add extra time). I quickly sketched a small + large leaf onto green felt and cut them out. You could also use green construction paper.
After we made our caterpillars, but read the story. My toddler loved reading the book and being able to interact with the physical caterpillars. I hadn’t intended this, but my older son pointed out that we had actually made the small caterpillar (the size he is at the beginning of the book) and the big, fat caterpillar (the size he is right before he goes into his cocoon).
Realizing this, my son was inspired to create other props to let us truly act out the entire book (save the page of ALL the snacks he eats before the green leaf). He got out his construction paper and proceeded to cut out one apple, two pears, three plums, four strawberries, and five oranges. He made a cocoon big enough for our pompom caterpillar. He even grabbed an extra little bead to symbolize the tiny egg at the beginning of the story!
All told, even though making our caterpillars was a very quick project, we spent over an hour doing the project, reading the story (several times) and acting it out. (Then we had to video chat several relatives…). The excitement of my 6 year old to expand on this project is one of the reasons I LOVE building crafts into our routine – a tiny spark from a project will light his creativity on fire for the rest of the day!
Share your caterpillars with us! Please tag @givethekidssomethingtodo on social media!
If you want to pin this project, please use the image below.