“Oliver’s Fruit Salad” by Vivian French & Alison Bartlett (or use any fruit book, e.g. Handa’s surprise or very Hungry Caterpillar)

oliverThis is a less well known book, I’ve picked it as Jumbles really likes it, and it makes a great springboard for fruit activities. However, if you can’t get a copy, really any book about fruit could be substituted. The most obvious would be The Very Hungry Caterpillar, but I wanted some variety.

Begin by reading the story, the book is a story about a boy who keeps telling his Mum about the fruit he picked in his Grandpa’s garden when he stayed there, and how Grandpa didn’t have tinned  or packet fruit. Oliver is a picky eater, but in the end eats fruit salad. I’m not going to say this book will help your picky eaters, but it’s a helpful springboard for playing with fruit.

After reading the story, head to a somewhere that you can buy fruit. Allow your children to choose some fruit to buy.

Activity 1: fruit printing – much like potato printing, but more edible

wildthingsandoliver 045Mix up some paint. We used homemade edible paint, mainly because I figured that Bean would eat the fruit whether it had paint on or not. There are a variety of edible paint recipes. Unfortunately, my favourite involves Kool Aid, which you can’t get in this country (or  if you can it’d be crazily overpriced). Fortunately for me, my parents live in The US, so when they visit I get them to bring sachets over. If you have Kool aid or similar, then mix it with water and flour until you have a thick, vibrant paint. The reason I love this paint is it takes seconds to mix and smells and looks great, plus it is of course totally edible.

If you don’t have kool aid, simply mix flour and water with food colouring (gel colours are best for vibrant tones).

This craft is really process art, that means it’s about the process, or activity itself, not about creating a finished product to keep. These paints have no preservatives in, so I don’t know how long they would last, so wouldn’t recommend if you are planning to keep the art for months.

Cut up the harder fruits (apple, pear, pineapple) into large pieces, suitable for your childwildthingsandoliver 046 to grasp.

Depending on the age of your children, they may be able to help cut some of the fruit. Jumbles (3) cut the apples using an apple slicer. Sometimes when printing, my more artistic husband will carve intricate designs into the ends of the potatoes, carrots etc for them to print with, but today we were happy just using the whole fruits.

I tried to demonstrate how you could make flowers by using the apple slice to print petals. However, smooshing down the top of the pineapple proved to be the most popular with both children, closely followed by swirling the paint around using the fruit.

wildthingsandoliver 067Whilst they were busy painting, Daddy cut up the rest of the fruit ready for the fruit salad, ensuring that he let Jumbles slice the banana and put all of the bits into the big bowl. Then let them help dish it up and enjoy, add yoghurt if you wish. I must admit, both of mine love fruit, so I can’t comment on whether doing this will improve fruit eating levels.

External Links:
Borrow “Oliver’s Fruit Salad” from your local Library
Buy “Oliver’s Fruit Salad”

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“The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle

veryhungryThis was my favourite book as a child, so I love enjoying it now with my own children. Jumbles loves joining in with the “pop” bit as the caterpillar comes out of the egg. They both enjoy putting their fingers in the holes and we count the fruit. It really is a classic.

There are a lot of activities you can do with this, so I’ve picked a few, which we did over the course of 2 days, but may revisit this book at a later date to do more.

Activity 1 – Fruit Kebabs:hungrycaterpillar 002

I wanted to start with real fruit, I enjoy getting the kids to explore real foods and get involved in food preparation. An activity I’d done very successfully while working in libraries was making fruit kebabs with older children. I thought that this was perfect, nice and simple, but fun, plus if we put a caterpillar face on the end of the kebab then we would make it look like a caterpillar was eating its way through the fruit.

Materials needed:
The fruit from the book (apples, pears, plums, strawberries, oranges)
Wooden skewers
Red paper
Pipecleaner
Pen

1) Prepare caterpillar faces by cutting red circles of paper or card, bending half a pipecleaner in half for antenna and taping it to the back.

2) Cut up fruit (children may be able to help depending on age) into small segments, our children did not help as we stupidly decided to do this at crank o’clock (around 5:30/6 in our house).

3) Either put all of the fruit in bowls in the middle, or, what we did, was count out ready the right number of fruits into a bowl for each child, that way, when Bean inevitably scoffed all of the strawberries before they could be threaded onto a skewer, she wasn’t spoiling it for Jumbles.

4) Give each child (or adult, we joined in too) a skewer and either try to put the fruits on in order, practising counting, or just let them try to poke the fruits on in any order.

hungrycaterpillar 0071 apple, 2 pears, 3 plums, 4 strawberries, 5 oranges

5) Attach the caterpillar face to the end of the skewer (I did this by sticking masking tape to the back, but having a kind of flap, which I then poked the skewer through, not sure this makes sense. blu tack would also work.

6) Eat your kebabs!

Activity 2 – Assault course:

For the Saturday’s food, I didn’t really want to get out real vhungrycaterpillar 018ersions of all of those different foods (chocolate cake, ice cream, swiss cheese etc) so I decided to go with something a bit different and to set up an assault course for the children to crawl through pretending to be caterpillars.

Materials needed:

10 large sheets of paper, or a roll of lining paper
Furniture or large toys that children can crawl through or under
Pens
Tape

1. Draw each of the items from the book onto thungrycaterpillar 014he sheets of paper, have the children colour them in (I am a terrible artist, but I find that even I can copy well enough to satisfy a 3 year old, and the pictures in this book have the advantage of being fairly simple) Jumbles doesn’t stick at colouring for long, and Bean started colouring things she shouldn’t – like the book, then while I was sorting that out, Jumbles drew on the wall, so I put the pens away at this point, hence the not terribly coloured nature of our pics. I think after we take the assault course down (we did it this morning as Jumbles is only at preschool in the afternoon, but he asked me to leave it up for him to have another go after preschool) we will get tissue paper and PVA glue and try to do some collaging on the pics.

2. Arrange furniture around the room in interesting ways, creating tunnels etc. Over each opening tape one of the pictures.

3. Read the “Saturday” page, and have your children crawl around the room pushing through each page to “eat” it.hungrycaterpillar 022

At the end of the assault course, I left a blanket, when Jumbles got there (Bean never completed the course, she mainly tried to pull the things down, though she did crawl through bits) I then coccooned him, which he found very funny, though I did realise that really I should have made a leaf to eat too, I just told him he had to pretend to eat a leaf before I coccooned him, but maybe you could add a leaf to yours.

Sorry, it was really hard to get a photo that shows it well, but hopefully you get the gist. You can also do timed laps of this course, if, like me, you’re trying to tire your kids out 🙂

Activity 3 – Coffee filter butterflies:

Materials Needed:
hungrycaterpillar

Disposable coffee filters
Felt tip pens
Water in a shallow container that their fingers can fit in. e.g. takeaway tub.
Pipe cleaners

I love making coffee filter art, it’s so simple, easy to do and looks most effective if children scribble, so it’s great for little ones.

1. Carefully open out a coffee filter for each child onto a protective surface as this may stain your table.hungrycaterpillar 027
Give them felt tip pens and have them scribble all over the filter, you don’t need to do neat colouring, but you also don’t want too much white space.

2. hungrycaterpillar 031Wet fingers and flick water over the filter, this will make the ink run creating lovely patterns. Don’t let them pour the water on (like Jumbles did just after this photo, as you’ll find it actually washes most of the colour off completely, and makes a big mess) a little is all you need, just make sure all of the pen has run.

3. Leave to dry

4. Scrunch up the middle and wrap a pipecleaner around as antennae et voila! One butterfly.

Also, if you need a Mothering Sunday card for this weekend, simply stick the butterfly to the front of a card. It looks very effective.

Stage and Play (commercial activity set)

hungrycaterpillar 034This was a lovely gift from my Mother in Law as she knew I was planning on doing activities for this book. It’s a strong cardboard activity set, and is a very nicely presented, easy to store set, with robust cards and a stage that they slot into. The cards fit in a tray under the stage when not in use, making it very transportable. Jumbles had fun playing with it, Bean was less interested. I gave him pipecleaners to use as pretend caterpillars, and he enjoyed poking them through the holes in the fruits etc.

Unfortunately, I do have a big criticism of the set, which is that it doesn’t have the correct number of each fruit. There are just 2 of each, Jumbles was searching for the rest of the plums etc and realising there were too many apples and was confused. I think that’s a shame, as counting is one of the obvious activities to do with this book. Also, the other foods are double sided, e.g. the chocolate cake is on the back of the swiss cheese, so you can’t set up all of the Saturday food to be viewed at the same time. Again, I thought this was a shame, I don’t know if they did it to save production costs, if that was the reason it’s a shame, as it’s a really well made set, where they haven’t scrimped on quality. It could have been done to save space on storage, but I think having the right number of items would have been worth it being a little less portable. Also, there are several different caterpillars in the set, a bending one, a curled up one etc. I would say these are less necessary than having all of the fruit. We may well make our own fruit to add to it for the next time we play.

External Links:

Borrow “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” from your library
Buy “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”
Buy Stage and Play