If you’ve been round these parts for awhile, you’ll know that I’m an Eric Carle fan girl. His method of painting tissue paper is one of our very favourite art processes. This Very Hungry Caterpillar craft vibes off this process.
But with a twist.
We’ve created a fair few Eric Carle-inspired projects round here. These Grouchy Ladybirds help teach how to tell the time.
Some Mister Seahorses. Some Lonely Fireflies.
But nothing to do with the Very Hungry Caterpillar. I almost had stage fright. What could I ever create with my kids to do justice to this iconic book? This year, being the 50th year since this glorious book was published, seemed like THE YEAR to get over this stage fright.
Sew a Softie seemed like a perfect opportunity to bring this Very Hungry Caterpillar craft to life.
A Very Hungry Caterpillar softie? Please and thank you.
What you will need for this Very Hungry Caterpillar craft
Acrylic paints (green, white, yellow, black, red)
So here’s the plot twist.
We’re going to paint the felt to achieve that awesome Eric Carle textured collage look.
Paint your felt green. Then start adding yellow, black and white highlights.
The felt absorbs the paint quite quickly so as we started wanting it to look textured with colour, we squirted paint straight onto the felt.
Once dried, the paint does make the felt a bit stiffer.
Paint a small square in red and use white and black to create a collage look. This will form the caterpillar’s head.
We examined the book’s front cover for reference.
Once your felt has dried, find a circular object to trace around.
The circles we cut ended up being around 7.5cm across.
We used 7 green circles.
Lay your 7 circles in formation against the felt that will be your backing.
We used white felt for the backing.
Pin your circles into place and get your needle ready!
We chose to use black thread. Use whatever colour tickles your fancy!
Note that we didn’t cut out the white circles. We sewed directly onto the backing fabric (that was rectangular in shape) and then cut around that felt at the very end.
This was a very useful method for little hands.
Cut a circle out of your red painted felt for the caterpillar’s head and 2 yellow ovals and 2 smaller green ovals to create the eyes.
Cut out a small circle for the caterpillar’s mouth.
Stitch these pieces into place on the red circle.
You’ll also need to cut out 2 black antennae and some little feet.
We began by stitching along the bottom of the caterpillar. Be sure to stitch the little black feet in as you progress.
My eldest is 5 and this was challenging for her. It was definitely a side-by-side activity and at times it was a hand-over-hand activity.
Once you have sewn along the bottom of the caterpillar, I put three stitches in at the point where the circles overlapped. Otherwise they flap around and all the stuffing will fall out.
Working along the top of the caterpillar, place stuffing into each segment and then stitch your caterpillar together.
Be sure to stitch the antennae in when you reach the head.
I initially had this grand dream of having my kids paint the food eaten by the caterpillar onto the back of the softie so that it could be used to retell the story. But life got in the way and there was no time for that. But you can have that idea and if you use it, be sure to tag me so I can see how it turned out!
This butterfly art for kids was inspired by two of my favourite creative ladies, Bonnie from Make It Your Own and Cara from Raising Kinley. I do love the way the Internet brings so much connection and inspiration and this creative lady mash up is testament to this.
After seeing this post on Bonnie’s Instagram feed about watercolours forming perfect droplets on waxed paper, my mind was whirring.
Team this inspiration with Cara’s enthusiastic obsession with photo paper and this butterfly art project was born.
Use the template to cut butterflies out of your photo paper.
Use masking tape to secure waxed paper to the table.
Dip paintbrushes into liquid watercolours and experiment with dropping paint onto the waxed paper.
(You could also use pipettes.)
It’s fun to observe the reaction and resistance between the paint and waxed paper.
Once you’ve covered a suitable area in coloured watercolour dots, press the photo paper glossy side down onto the droplets.
WARNING: This is an addictive process. It’s fun to experiment with how close you can place the coloured dots and to see what happens when the colours mix.
We then glued our butterflies onto squares of coloured paper and cut them out, leaving a thin border.
You could string these up as bunting or make a garland.
This Grouchy Ladybug craft is a perfect way to explore the painting process that Eric Carle uses to create his iconic illustrations.
It’s also a perfect creative project to pair with teaching time on an analogue clock. The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle is my go-to text when teaching littles how to tell the time.
(This link is an affiliate link. Thanks for your support!)
It’s actually called The Bad-Tempered Ladybird in my neck of the woods. Funny how the titles of books change based on your location.
Painting tissue paper is one of our favourite art processes! Check it out in the following video.
How to create your own Grouchy Ladybug craft
A variety of paintbrushes
Cardboard to lay under tissue paper whilst painting (hello old boxes!)
White craft glue
3 split pins
White paper + black pen
The Grouchy Ladybug template
Painting tissue paper a la Eric Carle is addictive. TIP #1: Prepare your space and have a drying rack or space ready to dry artwork flat. I wish I could pretend that I followed this tip, but this is what our workspace looked like. Yep I used a veggie box as a drying rack. Luckily for us, the kitchen island is right behind us here, so as the veggie box drying rack filled up, I’d quickly turn around and place the wet art on the island behind me. Sort your space before you start!
Lay your tissue paper on scraps of cardboard box. Let the painting begin!
Eric Carle advises that you lift your paper gently every so often to prevent it sticking to the cardboard underneath.
Tip #2: We began with only red and white paint.
We experimented with different brushes and implements to create red painted tissue paper.
Tip #3: It’s really great to have lots of paintbrushes to use as you move into using different colours.
Ain’t nobody got time to be washing brushes once this activity starts.
Good readers observe the details in illustrations.
We observed the different blending of colour on The Grouchy Ladybird’s cover. Tip #4: Introduce black paint next and experiment with creating red tinged with black.
Tip #5: We noticed that The Grouchy Ladybug had tinges of blue to her. Introduce blue paint and experiment with using blue and black together.
Once your painted tissue paper has dried, tear it into pieces. Possibly the most satisfying part of this whole process!
Tip #6: I grouped our torn tissue paper according to tints and shades. This makes it much easier at the gluing stage.
Print off the Grouchy Ladybug craft template and trace onto thin card. A cereal box would be perfect!
We covered the base in black tissue paper. Her face has hints of blue and white to it.
The wings are obviously red- reserve some black tissue paper for the ladybird’s dots!
You just paint on a layer of white glue and press tissue paper down.
We traced around a glass to form the clock’s face.
Once the base of your ladybird is covered, this clock face is simply glued on top.
Cut out a long arm and a short arm for your clock and secure to your ladybird with a split pin.
Secure both wings in a place with a split pin each.
Glue the top of the ladybug’s head and antennae in place.
What’s your favourite Eric Carle book?
That’s a trick question because how do you narrow it down to just one?
Eric Carle celebrated his 90th birthday last week.
Pop the poppers, eat all the cake and celebrate the Grand Master of Picture Books with these 26 creative and fun Eric Carle activities. (Cake is obviously optional but highly recommended.)
Two of my Insta Buddies, Laura and Diane, launched a fabulous account over on the ‘Gram.
Their account, A Pop of Culture, celebrates popular culture in a fun and playful way.
They launched with the excellent theme of Eric Carle.
The following Eric Carle activities resulted from this amazing launch theme.
How excellent is 4kids2moms’ Eric Carle-inspired cow that is interactive?!
I did not know this amazing fact, but Miriam from Cardboard Schoolhouse shared that after the release of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Carle wanted to create a quartet of Very books to highlight different themes.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a story about Hope.
The Very Busy Spider is about Hard Work.
The Very Quiet Cricket is a story of Love and finding a mate.
And The Very Lonely Firefly is about Belonging.
You need to go and check out the art that Miriam and her team created exploring these themes.
A friend recently asked for some tips to help her kiddo who is just not that into drawing.
Y’all know that I’m ALL FOR open-ended art processes, but sometimes drawing can be a bit too open-ended for little ones.
A piece of blank paper can be a mighty confronting thing. Couple that with “What do you want to draw?’ and the process can be intimidating and overwhelming for a mini artist.
Here are my tips to encourage a child reluctant to draw.
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Model positive talk around drawing
Carve out some time where you can experiment with some of the ideas listed below, side by side.
As you draw together, be sure to use positive talk as you model out loud your own thought processes.
Actual exchange that happened between my 5-year-old and I on the weekend: “Awesome unicorn, mum!” “Thanks, love. I actually wasn’t sure how it would turn out as I don’t feel very confident about drawing horses. But I just had a go anyway.” Notice that I didn’t declare “I’m not good at drawing!”
In all honesty, I really don’t feel like I’m any good at drawing but I would never say that in front of my kids.
It’s not about being good at it. It’s about having a go.
Similarly we have a ban on the word “perfect” in our house.
That takes a lot of the pressure off when we are creating, as we aren’t aiming for perfection.
Back and forth game
Take the pressure off and re-frame drawing as “mark making.”
Invite your child to sit down alongside you to build a masterpiece together. “I’m going to put a mark here. Your turn.”
Pass the paper back and forth.
The key is to emphasise the wonder and chance to experiment.
Your art may turn into something life-like. Or it may be an excellent abstract piece of art.
Either way, the teacher in me gets super excited at all the language possibilities here.
You can describe the lines and shapes that are appearing. You can ask your little artist to describe what is happening in the drawing.
Inspect a picture book
Picture books are always my Go-To for inspiration.
Another way to encourage your reluctant kid to draw, is to pull out some picture books and inspect the illustration.
Choose books with dense, detailed illustrations.
Yellow Kayak by Nina Laden and Melissa Castrillon is a book that springs to my mind.
Ask your child to examine the kinds of lines the illustrator has used. Are they straight? Curved? Zig zags?
Invite your kid to experiment with placing similar lines of a page and see what happens.
On the topic of picture books, I highly recommend the book The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds for a child reluctant to draw.
It is based on the premise of starting with a dot and seeing what happens….
Play Mr Squiggle
Only Aussies may get this cultural reference.
When I was a kid, an afternoon TV show that we used to regularly watch was Mr Squiggle.
He was a puppet with a pencil for a nose. As you do.
Mr Squiggle would be given pieces of card with random squiggles and shapes on the page.
He would then turn those lines and squiggles into a picture.
It was seriously riveting TV and the fun was in the anticipation of the reveal.
This is our favourite game to play when we are eating out and waiting for our coffee to arrive.
It’s playful, low pressure, imaginative and demonstrates the power of making something from nothing.
Family journal time
Carving time to create as a family can be hard. But it is oh-so-worth-it.
Buy each family member a notebook and set aside time to draw together.
We pull out our art journals and draw together at the dining table maybe every 4 weeks.
What is it about kids and a dice?
I’m working on this theory that you add a dice to anything and it ups the fun factor by about 3000%.
Introduce a dice and see whether it encourages kids drawing.
Assign a shape or line or prompt to each number.
Roll the dice and draw the shape/ line/ prompt that corresponds to the number rolled.
Take it outside
You know those journals you bought after I suggested it above? 😉
Pack them in the bag and take them with you to the park or on a walk.
Be inspired by the forms of nature, try a little still life and draw what you see.
Accessible materials that are fun
Drawing doesn’t have to be about pencils and crayons.
Ever seen how much a kiddo LOVES a whiteboard and the chance to use a whiteboard marker?
How about some chalk on the fence or driveway?
Or introduce a clipboard.
Invite your artist to experiment with different materials. And make those materials accessible so that your little artist has power in the process.
Ban the eraser
I try my best to ban erasers in the classroom. Same applies at home.
Mistakes are to be celebrated. What did we learn from that mistake? How can we turn that mistake into something else?
Banning erasers also promotes creative risk-taking. Should I put this mark here? What will we happen if it doesn’t work out the way I want? Oh well- let’s find out shall we?
You can lead a horse to water but….
Similarly, you can lead a child to the pencil and paper but you can’t make them draw.
You can provide the materials. You can invite them to make marks.
But some kids just aren’t that into it.
Your little person could be like my little guy.
It was hard to entice him into drawing but he got there in the end.
It’s still probably not his creative activity of choice, but he is no longer averse to it.
Kiddy drawings are one of my favourite things. Tag me on social media @ohcreativeday if you try any of these ideas.
Looking for some simple Easter hat ideas?
I have 4 for you that make use of the simple old paper cup.
Miss 5 is currently designing and making her hat for her first ever Easter hat parade at school.
I had to “gently” convince her that maybe she should rethink her idea about basing it around Christmas trees.
Do your kiddo’s school hold an Easter hat parade?
I’m always looking for ways to repurpose kiddy artwork.
We made these flowers from painted paper for my sister’s Baby Shower.
I first posted about them over on Red Ted’s blog.
We still have bouquets of them all over the house.
The first step for all these Easter hats involves painting the paper cup in a colour of your choice.
Punch a hole on either side of the hat. String through some yarn and this is how you will hold your hat in place.
Miss 5 also determined that we should pull her hair into a bun so that the hat can sit snugly over the bun. The kid is a genius.
For the flower tower, we glued some of our paper flowers to craft sticks.
We then used hot glue to fix these flowers to the back of the hat. (ADULT SUPERVISION, YO!)
Secure with tape if you feel it needs it. Cover these sticks and tape with more painted paper flowers. Glue painted flowers around the hat. Voila! Doneskis.
We posted about our Eric Carle-inspired eggs here.
We hot glued one to the base of the paper cup. Then use toothpicks to connect the eggs into a tower.
It’s a Leaning Tower of Eggs!