Your child will love the colors, rhymes, and fantastical world Eric Carle has created over the past decades in writing and illustrating children’s books. My son requests Brown, Brown, What Do You See? at least twice a day to read. His books are perfect for toddler, preschool, and young elementary children because of the short, simple stories he weaves through brightly colorful art. Your child will realize they have the power of creativity just like him and become avid readers by his whimsical world of storytelling.
Hopefully, you find the ideas in this article helpful for your little one to fall in love with reading and being creative! I love how interactive his books can be for children. I tried to include a different versions of the text in the links that my children enjoyed the most. I’m an Amazon Associate and earn from qualifying purchases from the affiliated links below.
Learn Through Play With Eric Carle Books For Your Child
While reading his books with your child, I recommend watching a short video clip of Eric Carle with Mister Rogers. The segment at his studio is 15 minutes into the video Clío I linked on PBC; Mister Rogers segment with Eric Carle at this studio or visiting his official website. Mr. Carle walks you through his illustrating process.
Many of Eric Carle’s books share similar themes and life lessons, so linking them together will help your child make meaningful brain connections to help them grow and learn. Here is a list of the units of study and books that can be used with your child to enjoy! I’ll write future blogs about these units soon.
Learn about Your 5 Senses
- Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?
- Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?
- Pancakes, Pancakes (taste)
- From Head to Toe (touch)
- Walter the Baker (smell)
Learn about Colors
Learn about the color wheel, complementary colors, mixing colors through his books. His books would be ideal for pausing and looking at the colors, especially in the background illustrations to see how Eric Carle combines and shades with colors. But some books that primarily focus on this concept include;
- Mixed up Chameleon
- The Artist Who Paint a Blue Horse
- Hello, Red Fox
- Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?
Life Cycle & Time
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar (days of the week & life cycle of a butterfly)
- The House for the Hermit Crab (months in a year)
- The Grouchy Ladybug (hours of the day)
- Walter the Baker (times throughout the day)
- 10 Little Rubber Ducks (subtracting and number order)
- The Greedy Python (counting 1-10, measuring & size comparisons)
- 1,2,3 To The Zoo
Learning First Words/Colors/Numbers
Eric Carle has incredible box sets of board books that your child will enjoy from the age 0+! My copy of board books have been loved for years and still withstand sweet, inquisitive toddler hands!
Confidence in Yourself
- The Mixed-Up Chameleon
- The Foolish Tortoise
- The Tiny Seed
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
The life cycle of a caterpillar comes alive as your child flips the pages in this book. I have seen so many incredible crafts with this book on Pinterest lately; please visit my Pinterest page @ChrisCMoreno for links to activities I have found for your little one to enjoy crafting!
Other activities I would recommend to connect to this book include;
- Visit a nature center/ garden and letting your child visit the butterfly section. Have them bring a sketch pad and draw their observations.
- Try a nature walk to look for caterpillars with a magnifying glass.
- Plant with your child flowers that attract butterflies in your backyard.
- Use cardboard and cut out a leaf shape. Let your child paint it entirely, including sides with green, yellow, and black paint. Then go back with the other end of a paintbrush-like Eric Carle and let them add veins on the leaf. Set to dry, and then play with caterpillar figurines. You can also add this to a sensory bin with extra materials for sensory play.
- Make a sensory bin with all things butterfly, garden, and caterpillar fun. I used colored rice, chickpeas, pebbles, rocks, gravel, butterfly figurines, and caterpillar figurines.
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you See? by Bill Martin Jr. Illustrated by Eric Carle
When you read this book with your little one, focus their attention on their eyes. Before starting the reading, ask them to look around the room and do a quick “I spy with my little eye” adventure to get in the spirit of using their sense of sight to explore the world around them. Your child will enjoy the short, rhythmic pattern in this book. Just a quick FYI- different versions of the book have different endings. I somehow own five copies, all from different decades, and let my children compare and contrast the illustrations’ changes, color brightness in the drawings, and the last pages. My son LOVES the flip version, where you open a little pocket on each page to reveal the animal on the following page.
For more details about additional activities with this book, please visit my post that includes free handouts and sensory activities. Favorite Book Activities with Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
Eric Carle Book Activities for After Reading Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
- On various colors of construction paper, have your child do a scavenger hunt around the house to find items that match the colors. Layout the items on the floor and have them correspond to the correct hues and objects.
- Create animal masks to have your child focus on exploring what they see around the house.
- Paint like Eric Carle, make background tissue paper with different textures. Let the drawings dry, then cut them out in various animal shapes. Laminate for more extended use and play with or to build your version of the book.
Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. Illustrated by Eric Carle
This book is a follow-up to Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?. This story includes all-new animals and more detailed movements of the characters described. The landscapes change from page to page as your child enjoys seeing wild animals in all different habitats. It is an excellent book to start a conversation about wild animals compared to animals in the zoo after reading the last page.
Activities for After Reading Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See?
- Create habitat background scenes on cardboard, let your child test out different painting techniques like Eric Carle does to form his tissue paper illustrations. Then use animal figurines to play with your different background theatre set and enjoy!
- Visit your local wildlife conservation/rescue center to see animals. Watch short video clips from Disney+ to see animals in the wild.
- Try letting your child make their page for the book using Eric Carle’s tissue paper illustration technique and the phrase, “_, _, What do you see?” With any animal of their choosing.
Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? by Bill Martin Jr. Illustrated by Eric Carle
This book comes in a version with sound buttons. My son quickly learned to switch the sound button on and off and pressed the whistling zookeeper in this book on repeat. I still recommend this version of the book, though, but I recommend keeping it near and dear to your reach instead of your child if you don’t enjoy the sounds as much as they do. Your child will love matching the animals’ sounds in the book to the buttons as they flip the pages.
Activities for After Reading Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?
- A simple activity while reading this book aloud is to flip to random pages and see if they can match the animal with the sound button.
- Try to close the book, say the animal’s name, and have your little one press the button for different animals’ sounds.
- Going on a nature walk or exploring your backyard is an excellent, simple activity to have your child notice the sounds they hear. Then you can play “Your child’s name, your child’s name, what do you hear?” Around the neighborhood
1,2,3 To The Zoo by Eric Carle
My kids loved learning counting 1-10 using Eric Carle’s book 1,2,3 to the Zoo. For examples of the activities we played after reading this book, please visit my post Counting Activity with 1,2,3 to the Zoo.
The Mixed-Up Chameleon by Eric Carle
Similar to The Foolish Tortoise, the life lesson in this book is about self-acceptance. Your child will love the silly changes the chameleon undergoes through this story. While reading the book with your child, it’s a fun challenge for them to spot which parts of the chameleon have changed as the book progresses. This book focuses on the many colors found in animals in nature and would be an excellent book to read while your child is learning to identify their colors.
The Artist Who Painted A Blue Horse by Eric Carle
Different animals are found on each page to have mismatching colors to those colors found in nature. We use this book to practice color for my toddler. For my preschooler, this book is excellent to talk about the color wheel and mixing colors. I enjoyed reading the back of the book that explained how Eric Carle was inspired as a child to create “wrong colors” because of his art teacher that broke the rules to show him impressionist artist’s work in wartime Germany. The information included on the inside covers Eric Carle’s hardcover books have been wonderful to gain some insight into how he gets inspiration for his stories.
Activities for After Reading The Artist Who Painted A Blue Horse
- Freestyle painting- let your child have different size and shaped paint brushes, colorful paints, and watch them be an artist! I recommend having plenty of baby wipes, paint smocks, and rags available for the creative process that will undoubtedly get messy.
- Use the form “I am a good artist”, to use for their painting.
- Compare the colors used in the book to animals, in reality, using nonfiction books, images online, or animal flash cards.
- Let your child get creative with dot art and use inspiration from the polka dot donkey page to make their mixed-colored animal painting.
Hello, Red Fox by Eric Carle
If your child is learning about colors and the color wheel, this is the perfect book for them to read with you. Your child will love the first two pages, particularly in this book. It shows how to focus on a dot to see colors correctly on the pages in the book. Another book that is an excellent complement to this book is Color Zoo by Lois Ehlert. I love reading them back to back and compare animals in the books.
A House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle
Follow along an entire year in the life of a hermit crab as he transforms his house from being “plain” to “perfect.” There are so many skills that can be taught or reviewed using this book! I LOVE IT! As you read this book with your child, pause and have them count the animals on each page. Also, pause to notice how each animal is described differently in the book. This focus on textures will make for a great sensory activity after reading, with all different textures, and have your little one compare and contrast.
For more sensory fun with this book please see my post, Sensory Bin Play with Eric Carle’s A House for Hermit Crab an Activity for Preschool and Kindergarteners.
Activities after Reading A House for Hermit Crab
- Explore the sense of touch by visiting a local marine center to explore or touch ocean animals’ different textures up close. For a sensory bin activity, try and use shells, ocean animal figurines, sand, gravel, rocks, and water.
- Create a flipbook showing the year in the life of the hermit crab. Each page is a different month. A corresponding math activity would be counting numbers 1-12 to correspond with the number of months to the number of animals on each page.
- Re-read the book with your child and focus on the letter S words. We charted and discussed the terms; sea, small, shell, starfish, spied, school, spotted, smooth, swam, sponges, and September.
- Focus your child’s attention to the different verbs in this book, and as a fun game, have them act out what these verbs resemble. We focused on the words gaze, crawl, murmured, whispered, complained, said, cried, cheered, and helped clean.
- Compare letter c words and their sounds in the book. We focused on the words; crab, crusty, claw, coral, cried, cheered, and complained, for this activity. 0Use a nonfiction book about hermit crabs to compare and contrast the illustrations and pictures in the different books.
- Try an art project based on the word plain. Start with just white paper and talk about how this is like the plain shell in the book. Then have your child try to make an underwater scene with animal friends by the end of their creations.
- The way that Eric Carle drew the seafloor in this book is ideal for an art project! Let your child use tissue paper and do layers of splatter dot paint technique like Eric Carle. His website has step by step instructions for his process.
- Use dot art to make a background for puppet theatre to act out the story with animal figurines.
- See my blog about best ocean books and activities for more activities.
Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle
Follow Mister Seahorse as he cares for his little eggs until they hatch. Eric Carle includes male sea creatures that watch after their eggs or babies in the wild. It’s an ideal book for dads to read to their little ones, especially as a Father’s Day book.
10 Little Rubber Ducks by Eric Carle
The inside cover shows an article about how Eric Carle wrote this story from a real-life story of a cargo ship dropping toys, including rubber ducks, in the ocean by accident. This book leads its self well to math skill practice during and after reading the book.
For more details about the water play activities with this book, please visit my post Counting Activity with 10 Little Rubber Ducks.
Educational Activities for Ten Little Rubber Ducks
- Practice numerical values 1st through 10th as shown in the book.
- Review words that describe the time of day using the book for examples.
- Try making a sensory water/beach container to demonstrate the ducks washing up onshore.
- Make a zip-lock bag to make the ocean scene without the mess! Then add ducks to the top to move around and mix the paint like swimming in the sea.
- As you reread this book with your little one, point out that each page subtracts one duck. You can use rubber ducks or animal cutout ducks to practice subtraction from 10-0.
- The book uses directionality on most of the pages. The words used include; up/down, left/right, north/south, east/west, and water/sky. These words would make for a great follow-up activity with “red light, green light,” and use direction words from the book to play.
- The book included descriptive verbs that would be fun for your child to act out from the book; try using the words drift, float, bobbing, blinks, screeches, glides, and chatters.
The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle
This book includes one grouchy ladybug! Time is a great background skill found in this book’s illustrations and text that would make for a simple mini-lesson when rereading this book with your child. For a sensory bin, try using different loose parts that are red, green, and black to form a ladybug in a garden. I started with green sand, gravel, and green gems, then made a semicircle with red items and then used black to make the ladybug base. Then filled it in with remaining items and googly eyes. Your child will enjoy free play with this bin. My daughter wanted to weigh items from the container using a balance beam, making patterns with the gems, and counting.
The Foolish Tortoise by Eric Carle
The message about self-acceptance and seeing the gifts you have is a great universal life lesson in this book. The tortoise realizes life is more enjoyable when you are yourself rather than trying to be anyone else. This book is excellent for animal comparison practice with your young child, also for your child to start thinking about their strengths. It can make for a great discussion starter about different qualities different animals have that are strengths and weaknesses.
Pancakes, Pancakes! by Eric Carle
I feel ungrateful after I read this book of modern life. This story is all about a child helping their mother make pancakes, simple enough. Yet Eric Carle set this book when you have to mill the flour, churn the butter, and build your fire. I like to bake pancakes with Christina Tosi’s compost pancake recipe. If you want to show your child how to bake more delicious foods, Christina Tosí had a Bake Club video and recipes that would be fun to show your child. In 2020 my daughter and I would bake with her all the time. This book reminds me of those days.
Walter The Baker by Eric Carle
Make or enjoy eating some pretzels with your child when you have finished reading this story about a baker who had a mission from a Duke that resulted in creating the pretzel. This book uses many different words that relate to the time of day as well that could be a good focus for rereading the book with your little one.
The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle
The Tiny Seed is a great book to read at the beginning of spring when you are ready to plant with your little one. I recommend going for a walk or backyard nature exploration after reading this book. You can use this book as the initiating activity about plants and the structure of a plant. I like to read Planting a Rainbow by Louis Ehlert. Try having your child use various loose parts to build the tiny seed into a beautiful flower for a sensory activity. We used mini erasers, sequins, rocks, gravel, foam shapes, and colored fake snow for this example from my blog about sensory bin activities.
From Head to Toe by Eric Carle
Your child will enjoy watching Mister Roger’s visit to see Eric Carle at his studio, see his illustrating process for making this book as well as his reading this book aloud to Mister Rogers. This book teaches the body parts and how they can move. Children will love to act out each page with the animals in the book.
- After reading the book, play the “Simon Says” game to act out even more ways our bodies can move. Playing twister as a family is another simple game that connects to this book.
- After watching Eric Carle’s illustrating process, give your child the same materials as him, test out his directions and see what they create. It’s fun to see their creativity come alive with a paintbrush in their hands.
Little Cloud by Eric Carle
I always point out clouds to my kids on walks, so I LOVE this book! It is all about the shapes that a little cloud forms in the sky. Your child will get mesmerized by watching clouds after reading this book. have them talk about what they see and even try pausing to take a picture to compare to the book when you come back in from outside. After reading the ending, ask your child why it rained? What happened? What caused that to occur?
Science Activities that Connect to Little Cloud
- Discuss different types of weather and why they occur.
- Types of clouds
- Connect this to Magic School Bus book about clouds that includes the water cycle as well.
- Try an introductory lesson about the parts of the water cycle.
- Use shaving cream to make a cloud painting.
- Cookie-cutter white paint clouds dry and cuts out in different creative shapes to form a cloud collage similar to Eric Carle’s style.
“Slowly, Slowly, Slowly,” Said the Sloth by Eric Carle
Jane Goodall writes the forward in this book! It is a beautiful read for parents and teachers to get some background information about sloths before reading, but also for children to understand some facts about these incredible creatures. So many rainforest animals come to talk to the sloth throughout this book. Try using rainforest figurines for a retelling activity for this book. A great book to read in connection with this is The Great Kapok Tree. The habitats are the same, and Jane Goodall’s message will be in more depth in this book. I like using the two books to compare and contrast the animals in the rainforest.
Activities after Reading “Slowly, Slowly, Slowly,” Said the Sloth
- Draw a picture of a hanging sloth upside down.
- Discuss synonyms and use the sloth’s speech as examples for the word slow.
- Give your child rainforest animal figurines and play dough for simple sensory fun.
- Make a layered sensory bin to demonstrate layers in a rainforest where a sloth lives.
Do You Want To Be My Friend? by Eric Carle
This book has only a few words on the first page and explicitly designed for pre-reading children to be creative and draw inspiration from Eric Carle’s illustrations and beginning text to build their own story. The “Note To Parents and Teachers” page before the story starts an example of how Eric Carle would develop the story if you need a sample before letting your child have fun creating their telling of this book. Have your child try and predict why there is a green line on the bottom of the page. Focus on it as the story continues, “What might it be?” Then as the book ends, have them review their prediction and think about what might happen next in the story.
The Greedy Python by Eric Carle
I recommend reading The Greedy Python right before or after Do you Want to Be My Friend? Because of the snake that is similar in both books. This rhyming book is about a python that eats anything and everything he comes across. Don’t worry; no animals are consumed by the end of the book, except for the greedy ones. You can reread this book with your child to count all ten animals that the snake tried eating. This book is also great for size comparison work. If your child feels comfortable, you can even use a ruler in the book to compare the animals’ sizes and chart the findings in their journal. We measure animal figurines we had to measure and observe.
Does a Kangaroo Have a Mother, Too? by Eric Carle
The simple rhyme in this book is perfect for your toddler to enjoy with you. It has a similar pattern as Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? Your child can try their example of thinking of an animal as they draw an animal. Try using the sentence from the book below their artwork. Your preschooler’s activity is to go back through the book and reread to focus on sight words. We worked on the terms; you, too, me, have, has, and, yes, a, does from the book.
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I hope you enjoyed this post about book activities using Eric Carle books. For more learning through play activities for little learners, please visit my other posts below. Thanks- Chrissy
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