Friday, February 20, 2009

The Caterpillar by Douglas Florian

Time for a Poetry Break!

Poetry for Children and Young Adults
Texas Woman’s University
Professor: Dr. Sylvia Vardell

Module 2: POETRY CHOICE: DOUGLAS FLORIAN—Post a Poetry BREAK with a Douglas Florian poem of your choice OR a Poetry BOOK REVIEW on a poetry book by Douglas Florian of your choice.

Douglas Florian’s poem, “The Caterpillar” from the book Beast Feast: Poems and Paintings, would make a nice poetry break and introduction for second grade students who, according to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), must study insects. (See TEKS below). Bring the poem to the classroom during springtime and bring in a box of tender green leaves that have been eaten by a caterpillar, ideally with the caterpillars! Or bring a leaf for each student to hold that has visibly been eaten by a caterpillar.

Read the poem and show the painting that accompanies the poem. (A hole has been eaten from the center of the leaf as the caterpillar travels around and around!)

The Caterpillar
By Douglas Florian

The caterpillar’s not a cat.
It’s very small
And short and fat,
And with those beady little eyes
Will never win a beauty prize.
The caterpillar’s brain is small -
It only knows to eat and crawl.
But for this creepy bug don’t cry,
It soon will be a butterfly.

Have the children create a human caterpillar by holding on to each other’s shoulders or waists and weaving around the room while they repeat each line of the poem. The small space between each student would represent the joints of the caterpillar. Explain to the children the different colors of caterpillars and how the colors indicate the butterfly that will be produced.

Extension lesson. If possible, plan a field trip to a butterfly farm during the larva stage before the butterflies hatch. Or plan a virtual field trip on the Internet. Here is an example of one that I registered for: There are several other virtual field trips available. Prepare a lesson that has the children match the caterpillars to the butterflies.

After the field trip, have the students plant a butterfly garden near the school's playground (with permission from the principal!) Bring in several lantana plants for the children to plant. The garden should be in bloom at the end of August for the beginning of the next school year.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________ TEKS: January 5, 2009 – Proposed Recommendations for the Science TEKS, Grades K-5 Page 15 of 28 (10) Organisms and environments. The student knows that organisms resemble their parents and have structures and processes that help them survive within their environments.
(C) investigate and record some of the unique stages that insects undergo during their life cycle.
End of Grade 2

Virtual Butterfly Field Trip


Butterflies: "Unblocking the mystery of the metamorphosis." 2006. E-field trips. (accessed February 20, 2009).

Florian, Douglas. 1994. "The caterpillar." Beast feast: Poems and paintings. San Diego, CA.: Voyager Books. 34.

(Picture of butterfly from my personal collection taken at Clark's Garden in Mineral Wells, Texas, summer 2007).

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