Basic English, Zero English

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

This book by Eric Carle is truly a classic. I’ve never taught a class who didn’t love it! It’s really a teacher’s dream as it can be used to teach food vocabulary, days of the week and numbers, as well introducing caterpillar life-cycles. The lesson plan focusses on enabling comprehension and retelling of the story. Extension resources focus on using The Very Hungry Caterpillar as a starting point for learning vocabulary for discussing caterpillar life-cycles.

Please support the author by buying a copy of the book here.

This lesson requires minimal preparation, and is good for classes where the students have different ability levels as you can choose how much text each student should write. After listening to the story of the very hungry caterpillar, students create their own ‘hungry animal’ books.

Hungry Caterpillar lesson plan

hungry caterpillar lesson plan

Hungry Caterpillar vocabulary flashcards

hungry caterpillar vocabulary

Hungry Caterpillar retelling cards

hungry caterpillar retelling


‘The Very Hungry ….’

book template

(female pronouns)

hungry animal (f)

‘The Very Hungry ….’

book template

(male pronouns)

hungry animal (f)

Make your own hungry caterpillar! Child-friendly instructions.

caterpillar instructions


Watch the author, Eric Carle, read The Very Hungry Caterpillar.


lifecycle_butterfly_thumbIt’s important for children to understand that the events in The Very Hungry Caterpillar are based on real natural phenomena. Once students are familiar with The Very Hungry Caterpillar, introduce more books about caterpillars to help them to build their vocabulary and understanding. I made this book, The Lifecycle of a Monarch Butterfly, to introduce children to the scientific terms for the events that they read about in The Very Hungry Caterpillar. The photos were taken from a flickr set by Sid Mosdell. The book is licensed under a creative commons license.


This fascinating video makes a great extension activity. It shows the complete lifecycle of a monarch butterfly. Great to watch after reading the book.

Students hungry for more? ‘Where’s my mom?’ by Julia Donaldson is a delightful book that also uses the them of animal change and growth. Buy a copy here.


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