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Hungry Caterpillar Story Necklace

Somehow I have gotten obsessed over this idea of "story necklaces" for kids.  A necklace that you can string together and it will tell a story, plus, you can wear it!  Perfect for quick retellings.  I guess it's like a story quilt, but more portable and personal. 

Anyway, I became obsessed with a Very Hungry Caterpillar Story Necklace.  My fellow Toddler Sewing Club teachers and I brainstormed over the best ways to design and execute the project.  We knew that it had to be doable for toddlers, include some element of sewing, and be on the up and up with Mr. Carle.  We decided to focus on what the caterpillar ate and use solid colors to differentiate between the various foods.
I found this great official coloring page and went to town breaking apart the individual food items onto a single page and then blowing them up on the copier and then copying the individual foods onto colorful cardstock.  Truth be told, my method took FOREVER and at one point I had a total Martha Stewart moment where I realized that I was spending way too much time on the copying and cutting, but at that point, there was no turning back!  If you have a scanner, which I do not, I will assume that this part of the process will be much simpler. 
Once you have the individual foods,  cut around them leaving some edge and then punch two holes into each picture.  This makes them into little buttons.  At some point, we decided to make the "stomachache" picture all one big blob instead of a bunch of little pictures.  Not only was this easier prep work, but was easier for the toddlers to sew.
Yay, the project was a success!  The kids loved them and so did the parents.  After reading the story to the group, everyone got a little baggie filled with all the pieces and a lacing string threaded with a plastic needle.  We had lots of copies of the book on hand so that the kids could find the pictures of the food in the book and then string them on the necklace.  While some kids just strung away and didn't follow the story, it was all good.  They were still learning and having fun.  They proudly showed off their necklaces and talked about which foods were their favorites.

As I'm sure you are thinking, this would be a great project for older kids as well.  I can't wait to make story necklaces with my second graders based on their own original stories!
We really packed a lot of good learning and skills into this project.
* Fine motor skills using a needle and threading it through the two holes.
* Color discrimination and names.
* Story sequencing.
* Story retelling.
* Counting with the holes in the pictures and number of items.
* Pride in finishing a new project and the joy of wearing it home.
* Cooperation with parents and siblings.
* Matching of pictures in the story to that in their necklaces.

Who says you can't learn a lot from sewing?!

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