Hungry Caterpillar 2yr - Cocoon Wrap
Kathy in Glenview, Illinois, USA
Very Hungry Caterpillar Party (based on the book by Eric Carle) I did this party for my daughter's second birthday, for a group of guests ranging in age from two to ten (but mostly five and under --the older kids acted more as my helpers"). I think the theme would work well for any age from one to five. Everyone of all ages had a great time and all the parents thought it was a very cute idea.
Invitations: I cut rectangles of green cardstock with a smaller rectangle of white cardstock on top leaving a fairly wide green border all around. I held my daughter's hand and helped her make a row of thumbprints on each white rectangle using a green ink pad to make a "caterpillar." Since the Very Hungry Caterpillar in the book has a red head I added that with a red marker. I could have done a red thumbprint but I just couldn't deal with having my daughter use two colors of ink pads! I also added a face little legs and antennae with markers. On the green border on the sides I put fruit stickers from Michael's (using the fruits that the caterpillar ate in the book). On the back I glued the party information which said "I'm still growing and growing! When will I be a butterfly? Please come to my Very Hungry Caterpillar party. (date time etc.). Please RSVP to Mommy and Daddy Butterfly at (phone)." I used green envelopes from Kinko's and Very Hungry Caterpillar stamps which at that time were available at the Post Office (they may no longer have them).
Decorations: Over the food table I made a balloon caterpillar. It was made of five green balloons and one red balloon (for the head). I tied the balloons on long pieces of white thread so that the strings wouldn't show and it would look like the caterpillar was floating. (Fishing line might be even better.) I taped the bottom of each piece of thread to the back edge of the table so that the balloons were all in a row. I attached paper eyes and pipe-cleaner antennae to the red "head" balloon using clear tape. This decoration was easy to do and very cute and effective. The food table was covered with a green cloth and I had multicolored balloons all around the house and yard. The plates cups and napkins were a pretty multicolored stripe design. (I thought later that polka dots would have been even better to match the design on the end papers of the book.) I also had a big cutout caterpillar made of green and red posterboard (again with pipe cleaner antennae) on the wall in the living room.
Art Projects: As the children arrived I had two art projects available. One was to make butterflies. The kids could paint a square of tissue paper with watercolor paints to be the wings. (I chose watercolor instead of tempera because it dries faster.) The tissue was put aside on a newspaper to dry and then they could decorate a wooden clothespin (the old-fashioned kind available in craft stores) with markers to be the butterfly's body. An adult supervised the painting and helped the kids add pipe-cleaner antennae. At the end of the party when I was distributing the gift bags I quickly took the (now dry) tissue wings and stuck them into the clothespin bodies. For the other art project I had two pans of regular kids' paint big sheets of white paper and some apples and pears cut in half. I thought that the kids could dip the fruit in the paint and make prints on the paper. The older ones did do this --the little ones just stuck their hands in the paint and smeared them on the paper. Oh well! Also during the art project time I had available some toy fruit and some Very Hungry Caterpillar puzzles (from Toys R Us) for the kids to play with but most of them were plenty busy with the painting.
Story: When the kids were done painting and before we ate we read "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" by Eric Carle. I was able to get it as a "big book" from the library so that everyone could see the pictures. Food: I decided to serve the food that wasn't cake separately from the cake so that the kids would actually eat some. We had ALL of the food that the caterpillar eats in the book! This is what he eats: apples (sliced) plums (I chose small ones and served them whole) pears (sliced) strawberries oranges (I used canned Mandarin oranges) watermelon slices salami cheese pickles small sausages (I used mini hot dogs served on fancy toothpicks) and "nice green leaves." For the "leaves I served salad. I also thought we needed something to go with the salami and cheese, so I added Pepperidge Farm butterfly-shaped crackers to the menu. The caterpillar also eats various sweets, but we had those later. The salad was mostly eaten by the parents, but the kids did eat lots of fruit, and they loved the mini hot dogs! To drink, we had lemonade and chocolate milk.
Games: After we had eaten, we had three games. The first one was feed the caterpillar." I sewed felt beanbags in fruit shapes and drew a big caterpillar on the driveway using sidewalk chalk. The children had to try to throw the beanbags into the caterpillar's mouth (or anywhere on his head). I made them stand back one foot for each year old that they were. The beanbags were a lot of work to make but my daughter and her 3-year-old sister are still playing with them. At the end of the game everyone got a prize which was a "Very Hungry Caterpillar" sticker (from mrsgrossmans.com) to put on their shirt. The second game was the classic toilet paper wrapping game which is usually played at Halloween to make "mummies" --I decided to call it "cocoons" instead. I divided the kids into teams of three or four with mixed ages on each team. Each team had to choose one person to be wrapped and the other kids did the wrapping. Each wrapping child had their own roll of toilet paper. They really loved this and they also liked throwing big armfuls of toilet paper up in the air after the game was finished! The prize for this game was that everyone could get a butterfly stamped on their hand. Finally the third game was a caterpillar hunt. While the other games were going on in the back yard Daddy and Grandpa had been hiding caterpillars in the front yard. The caterpillars were made of egg cartons cut in half spray painted green with pipe cleaner antennae. (For these I decided to skip the red heads and just make the whole thing green.) The kids enjoyed finding them and when they were done they all got a prize of a rainbow swirly lollipop like the one that the caterpillar ate in the book. I didn't want to buy those really huge rainbow lollipops that you see in the drugstore --I finally found normal-sized ones at Oriental Trading.
Cake: After the three games we had the cake and presents. The cake was a caterpillar made of cupcakes with green frosting. I arranged them in a curvy line on a long board that was covered with foil because a cookie sheet wasn't big enough. The "head" cupcake was frosted red and I tried to make the face look just like the one in the book. I used big yellow jellybeans with smaller green jellybeans stuck on top of them for the eyes and a raisin for the nose. For the antennae I used two green birthday candles. (If your child is older than two you could use sticks of candy for the antennae and put the birthday candles on the caterpillar's body instead of his head.) Also on each green cupcake there were two "feet" made of big chocolate chips. This cake was easy to do and very cute! But I wasn't done yet. In the book besides cupcakes the caterpillar also eats chocolate cake and cherry pie. So for the parents I had little cherry tarts and a chocolate cake made to look like the one shown in the book. It was two thin layers of chocolate cake with chocolate mousse in between and more chocolate mousse on top topped with chocolate sprinkles and maraschino cherries. For the ice cream the kids had green ice cream cones filled with vanilla ice cream and topped with rainbow sprinkles and the adults had just plain vanilla ice cream.
Gift bags: The gift bags were rainbow-striped cellophane bags filled with bubbles rainbow colored bouncy balls green jelly beans gummi centipedes (available at World Market stores --or you could just use gummi worms which are available everywhere) Keebler "bug bite" crackers (mini graham crackers shaped like bugs) plastic butterfly barrettes for the girls and plastic bugs for the boys. Also each younger child got a plastic egg filled with play dough because the caterpillar comes out of an egg. (I picked these up in advance --drugstores carry them around Easter time). Each older child five and up got a caterpillar bead kit. (The older kids happened to be all girls). I put these kits together myself with a little package of glass caterpillar beads from Oriental Trading a length of beading cord and a beading needle all in ziploc bag. I also included a little paper with instructions about how to use the beading needle since they don't work the same way as regular needles and I thought that the girls might not be familiar with them."
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