Article Type Making Art Together Making Art Together Categories Painting Printmaking

Very Hungry Caterpillar Day Collaboration

Recently, students from Holyoke Community College’s Curriculum in Early Childhood class worked with The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art to design a studio project to celebrate Very Hungry Caterpillar Day. Students planned the event, prepared materials, and facilitated art making in the Art Studio. One of those students, Kiara M. Nazario-Cartagena, wrote a reflection on the collaboration, and following is her description of the project:

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Day was a fun-filled event where visitors of all ages created a piece of art which was then added to our community caterpillar in the museum’s Art Studio. This project started in the halls of Holyoke Community College as the education class, Curriculum in Early Childhood EDU 210, brainstormed ideas after having the opportunity to visit The Carle and truly experience everything they had to offer. As EDU 210 student Dylan Burns stated, “the Eric Carle Museum reminded us to take the time to see the depth and complexity of what could be easily glanced over.” This idea helped our class develop something extraordinary yet simple.

There were several activity ideas proposed for this event by our class, but the idea of creating a community caterpillar seemed to fit with the museum’s philosophy; a project that used recycled materials, was open ended, and adaptable to varying ages. Once we had the idea for the project, the class along with the museum staff worked hand in hand when it came to the finishing touches. Student Michaela Neylon stated, “this was a once in a lifetime experience, to be able to work with the museum of the author we grew up reading.” Therefore, we were all excited to celebrate The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s 50th birthday and collaborate on this project.

Image courtesy of Holyoke Community College, EDU 210

As the day approached, our class met at the museum, we prepared the materials that were going to be used for the event, helped set up the order in which things were going to be placed, and thought of all the details that would have an effect on the visitor’s experience. 

Image courtesy of Chris Yurko, Holyoke Community College

We wanted this day to be unforgettable for the museum’s visitors who chose to participate in our project, as it was for those of us who had the opportunity to develop it.

The big day finally arrived and we were all excited to see the project come together. The Carle was nice enough to let the students in our class take shifts in order to assist visitors and experience the project we had created. We built a caterpillar head with the idea that this would be a starting point for our community caterpillar. Visitors would have the freedom to design circles to their liking, and add them to the caterpillar throughout the day.

As one of our students, Julia Levesque stated, “I loved the way that this activity was focused on the participant, and I loved that the answer to most questions in the art room was ‘yes’,” This made it easier for visitors to let their imagination and creativity run wild when it came to creating distinct and unique circles.

Throughout the event, the caterpillar grew as everyone added on their art pieces. By the time it was finished, the caterpillar was so big that it took over almost all of the Art Studio windows. Being able to see how much people enjoyed being part of this project was rewarding in ways that cannot be described.

Our goal was to create an unforgettable birthday experience for The Very Hungry Caterpillar, as well as for the museum’s visitors who were there to celebrate with us. After participating in this event, our EDU 210 class now has valuable insight into what it feels like to create a project and to see it fully develop. We were able to work on our communication skills, teamwork skills, and used our imagination towards this project, all of which will have a great impact on our academic and future careers.

Image courtesy of Chris Yurko, Holyoke Community College

As future educators, we all greatly benefitted from this project. Student Julia Tonelli added how she “was able to learn a lot about how to step back, observe and let people go straight into an activity with minimal specific direction.” Fellow student Julia Levesque stated how she “really loved this project and it only confirmed that education is [her] path in life” and Hannah Young added how proud she felt “to have contributed to this event seeing as it made many people happy and helped bring the community together for a day of fun and creativity.”

We are all so happy to have had the great opportunity to celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Very Hungry Caterpillar and be part of this Service Learning project. We want to take the time to thank The Carle and everyone who came out to celebrate with us, thank you for making this such a memorable day.

- Kiara M. Nazario-Cartagena