an afternoon with eric carle…don’t forget the underpants

Today we learned all about Eric Carle and his amazing children’s books! We started off by brainstorming all of our favorite books: mine included Anne of Green Gables and Mrs. Piggle Wiggle (which, luckily, almost all of the children had at least heard of!)….Some of the other favorites of the day included Little House on the Prairie, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Goodnight Moon, Charlie and Lola and The Secret Garden. We talked about how many books become more magical with illustrations and what kinds of illustrations we like to see in books. We then looked at a variety of samples of Eric Carle’s picture books, including The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Grouchy Ladybug and Draw Me a Star. We investigated the different ways that Mr. Carle used paper to create his animals and nature scenes. We talked about the various ways an artist can manipulate paper in their artwork – with scissors, by tearing pieces and gluing them together, by painting them and by distressing them through folding and crinkling.

My favorite part of the class was reading Carle’s The Mixed-up Chameleon to the children and hearing their peals of laughter when the chameleon takes on an elephant’s head. (My favorite part, too!)

With that book as inspiration, each child was then given the opportunity to create a collage of a magical animal or person using a variety of papers and materials. The more fantastical the creation the better! The only rule was that each creature had to include at least three different animals or beings. The creations that the children came up with were absolutely amazing…

We had a Bride Kitty Bird with High Heels…

A Bunny Kitty Seal Wearing Pink Underpants…

A Dapper Duck Lady Stork with Bowler Hat and Umbrella…

A Frog Turtle Cat with 3D Tongue…

And a Kitty Bunny Lady with Oversized Purse…

Somehow, accessories put themselves in the mix, and I’d loving the fact that we had everything from pink underpants to oversized purses finding their way into our artwork…

A few fun facts about Mr Carle:

  • Eric Carle has written and/or illustrated more than 90 books!
  • Eric Carle grew up in Germany and moved to the U.S. when he was 23
  • Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see? was Mr. Carle’s first book
  • You can visit the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Mass
  • Mr. Carle’s favorite book is “Do You Want to be My Friend?”
  • When Mr. Carle was a little boy, he wanted to build a bridge from Germany to America so he could walk between the two countries!

And here are a few fun things to do at home. First of all, Read! Read! Read! Visit your local library for the full collection of Eric Carle books – including a few like Dream Snow and 10 Little Rubber Ducks that incorporate sounds into the end. Also, please take a peek at Eric Carle’s web site ( – there you can find a picture gallery, a bibliography of Mr. Carle’s books and fun activities!


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