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Hungry Caterpillar Reading with Phonics

This month The Learning Lady has been working with some Reception classes to explore the minibeasts in their school grounds. During planning meetings it was recognised that it’s hard to teach Reception children to apply their phonic knowledge and skills to the names of these creatures as a result of the complexity of the phonemes they include. With this in mind, The Learning Lady supported staff in developing ideas for minibeast reading and writing with a creative feel, handily  coinciding with the 45th anniversary of The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle! The planning and resourcing for these activities went down a storm at The Nursery and Primary Show in Bournemouth last month…. bet your class will love them too!


Learning Objectives

To blend to read simple words

To read simple sentences


  • Differentiated instructions to make the paper chains  Paper chain caterpillars
  • Strips of red and green paper (plus additional materials to add extra details)
  • Glue
  • A whiteboard with some of the words the children might find difficult pre-written. These will depend on the group and it might help if the digraphs are highlighted in an alternative colour or sound buttons added

Find a copy of the classic Very Hungry Caterpillar in The Learning Lady’s Book Box


Model the reading process using the words chosen on the whiteboard. Point to each letter as the children join in with saying each sound, blending the sounds to read the whole word all together. Also revise the tricky words before beginning.

Practise reading the instructions all together. The children will probably need the process of rereading the sentence after the blending of each new word demonstrating in detail.

Explain that the children are going to read the instructions again to help them make their own Hungry Caterpillars.

Expect each child to attempt to read the instructions independently. Support and challenge as needed.

After reading each sentence, the children must use the resources to create a caterpillar, step by step.

Look listen and note as the children work


Help less able children with plenty of adult support. Work in much smaller groups, reading each step collaboratively. Some children may struggle with working independently so a ‘team approach’ to this activity might be the answer.

Challenge more able children by providing them with more complex instructions. You could also make this even more challenging by cutting up the sequence of instructional steps for the children to order before beginning.

The Sweet Smell of Success!

Can the children…

  • maintain attention and concentrate to complete the activity? With support?
  • follow the simple instructions? With support?
  • share the resources? With support?
  • work independently to complete the task?
  • recognise all of the letters and the sounds that they make? With support?
  • blend to read the words individually? With support?
  • read the simple instructions? With support?

You could also make this Hungry Caterpillar’s Fruit Salad too!

Hungry Caterpillar’s Fruit Salad

Learning Lady Top Tips

This activity is will be a challenge for some due to the amount of reading involved. However, it slowly raises the expectation and gives a purpose to reading which the children will relate to. In my experience this is always a popular choice of independent activity following this guided session and can be a great activity for the children to take home and do too. Why not extend the experience by reversing the process to write the    instructions together too!

Why not use these resources for:

  • Child initiated reading in the creative area
  • Homework
  • Creating a fab Hungry Caterpillar display to be proud of!

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Heaps more seasonally appropriate investigations to apply phonics for reading and writing more widely…NEW COVER

Only £5.99 (includes planning and resources which really work!)


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