With our tot school routine thrown out a bit by the summer break I decided to throw ‘super playdate’. These are just bigger, with more activities, decorations and food.
My friend Maeve suggested bugs as a topic and after some (ok much) thought I decided to be more specific and narrowed it down to caterpillars and butterflies. And since our ‘we’re going on a bear hunt’ play date worked quite well I felt we could focus on ‘the very hungry caterpillar’ (VHC) by Eric carle.
Now, we didn’t even own this book prior to planning this play date because I’d never really got all the fuss about it. I thought it was pretty dull and a bit odd. But then again I thought exactly the same about ‘we’re going on a bear hunt’ until I did some work on it. I might add at this point that I have no grasp of literature at all, I’ve always been more of a scientist.
So after nearly four weeks of planning and prep, here’s what we got up to.
I love this bit, Kealan gets so excited when he sees decorations going up and now Elyse has started to join in by shouting and pointing and jumping up and down. Kealan always says “wow mummy, look at that!”. I surrounded the table area with green streamers and created a balloon very hungry caterpillar and a sun.
I hung up some VHC number flashcards (found here) at the window and placed out some VHC suitcase boxes.
I hung up the flashcards (found here) that I’ve been working on with Elyse at the patio doors and added some caterpillar shaped balloons.
As lots of people are on holidays this is a double play date. Hosted first on 3.8.15 and again 10.8.15. On the 3rd we welcomed Lisa and Oscar, Geraldine and Jamie and Maeve with Amelie and Patrick. Wonderfully mum was feeling better enough to come along and my very helpful daughter Amy was my assistant as usual.
First the toddlers were given a bowl and a plastic egg. They popped open the eggs to find little caterpillars inside. Then they had to climb through the fruit and were given images of each fruit when they got through the obstacle.
The other obstacles were the slide, a beam, a tunnel, a step and a wool web to climb through. Along the way they collected images of all the food from the book.
In hindsight this may have been a bit over complicated but we got back to the table with no injuries so that’s good! I’d set out threading ribbon and they emptied out all the food they’d collected (printed from here).
I reminded them of the sequence and Oscar and Amelie did a great job of finding the foods and threading them. Kealan was more interested in the babies activity at the start but then made a great effort with it.
Jamie and Elyse did very well and concentrated on this task for quite some time. Little Patrick is younger and this activity was probably a wee bit advanced but I made them quite robust and they got to take them home so I’m sure it’ll be better entertainment soon.
Next we made sock caterpillars. We took an old sock and folded it inside out, tied an elastic band around the foot side of the heal and then cut off the foot section. We then turned the sock back a placed a bangle around too top to hold it open. The kids then got to scoop rice into the socks. Using elastic band the mummies then created the body sections and feet and I glued on eyes and antenna. Kealan loves his.
We looked at our real caterpillars. I’d ordered these a couple of weeks previously in the hope they’d be cocoons or butterflies by the time of the play date but they were still caterpillars. Much fatter caterpillars than when they arrived mind you. You can almost see them growing!
Can’t wait to get them into their butterfly habitat and then release them. Kealan is really interested and looks at them every day. He can name the life cycle and I think it’ll be so good for him to see it for real.
Lastly I gave out the party bags – as many will know, these are my favourite bit.
The toddlers got markers with butterflies on them, a pencil with fruit rubber on top, hungry caterpillar colouring sheet, copy of butterfly life cycle, butterfly and caterpillar anatomy sheets (found here), the number flashcards shown above, caterpillar sweets, bug stickers and a caterpillar balloon.
The babies got to take home the caterpillar canisters and lids.
Geraldine texted me to say that Jamie had played with it most of the evening and her older boys wanted to make sock caterpillars. Maeve and Lisa also sent lovely messages about the morning so I’m chuffed everyone had a good time.
So that was our very hungry caterpillar play date (part 1). I am very grateful to Maeve for all her support and hard work. She did a huge amount of printing, laminating and cutting out for me despite the fact she is 8 months pregnant and has two young kids to look after!!! But it’s fantastic to find someone who loves doing this stuff as much as me and when baby number 3 is settled for her I’m sure there be many more collaborations.
Good luck Maeve, can’t wait to meet ur new wee person (who’s doomed to be bombarded with sensory play and themed play dates from an early age id say!)