Sharing the photo of Eric Carle's messy studio got me thinking about the Very Hungry Caterpillar, which in turn got me thinking about actual caterpillars. There are tons of butterfly crafts (here are six of mine) but with the exception of the Very Hungry version, there are not a lot of caterpillar crafts. Since the monarch caterpillar is distinctive, beautiful, AND the larval form of the state insect of 7 states (Alabama, Idaho, Illinois, Minnesota, Texas, Vermont, and West Virginia), it was the perfect choice.
I chose to use yellow and white paint on black cardstock for my monarch caterpillar. If you use black and yellow paint on white cardstock, you'll get better coverage. If you want to avoid paint altogether, just cut the stripes from the appropriate colors of cardstock or construction paper.
Monarch Caterpillar Craft
- cardstock or construction paper
- paint and black pen (optional)
Cut out the following caterpillar body parts from cardstock or construction paper: 1 oblong body (slimmer than the one below- I trimmed mine later), two large tentacles (filaments) and two smaller ones, four prolegs, and three true legs. Insects, including caterpillars, have six legs but only three will show on each side.
Paint white stripes onto the caterpillar's body. At this time, add a circle of white onto each proleg. If you are using paper instead, cut strips for the body and circles for the prolegs and glue them in place.
When the paint has dried, paint every other white stripe yellow. (Or, glue strips of yellow in place.) Let the paint dry, then use the pen to draw black lines on either side of each yellow stripe. At this point, I realized my caterpillar came out a bit more plump than the real thing, so I trimmed it.
Glue the tentacles, prolegs, and legs into place.
Indulge me in a brief soapbox moment regarding monarch caterpillars. You may have pleasant memories of raising monarchs as a kid. It is fascinating to see them go through their life cycle and it feels amazing to release them into the wild. This used to be a fairly common practice in elementary classrooms, but captive rearing is now thought to be harmful. Those who care about the future of monarchs should focus on efforts to protect their breeding and overwintering territories. Our kids' kids and their kids deserve to have a world filled with monarchs, too.