Hungry as a Caterpillar

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In this indoor and outdoor activity, learners discover that insects grow and develop as do all living things, going through a process known as complete metamorphosis. First, learners read the book "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" and discuss how the caterpillar in the story changes. Then they go outside to observe natural areas for insects or signs that insects have fed there. (In winter, you can use insect replicas.) A fun component is using a hula hoop (or piece of knotted string) to show learners their "study area." For younger learners, or in bad weather, substitute an art activity for the outdoor feeding hike/exploration.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 4 - 11

Resource Types:
Activity, Field Trip, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)

  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar book by Eric Carle
  • Hula hoops (or substitute circles of string)
  • Examples of vegetation upon which insects have fed
  • Insect replicas (for use in winter)
  • Egg cartons (optional)
  • Pipe cleaners (optional)
  • Markers, crayons or stickers (optional)


  • Life Sciences
    • Diversity of Life
      • Plants
      • Animals
    • Ecology
      • Ecosystems
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Asking Questions
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Communicating Results

Informal Categories

  • Animals
  • Arts and Crafts
  • Literature
  • Model Building
  • Nature and Environment
  • Outdoor Activity


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • hear
  • be mobile
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Rogers Huff, Paula


  • All rights reserved, Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System, 2005