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Grow a green caterpillar

Plant some seeds, then wait for them to sprout and give your grassy caterpillar a new hairstyle.

You will need

  • Scissors
  • String
  • Craft materials (for example, tissue paper, pipe cleaners, stickers)
  • PVA glue
  • Grass seed
  • Peat-free compost
  • Tights
  • Newspaper or something to cover tables

Before you begin

  • It’s best to use low denier tights so the grass can grow through the holes.
  • Cut the tights up so everyone has a section the same length. We found that you can make about six caterpillars from each pair of tights, but it’ll depend on the tights you use (and how big you want your caterpillars to be).
  • Tie a knot at one end of each caterpillar and leave the other end open.
  • Cut some pieces of string that are long enough to tie around a stuffed caterpillar. Everyone will need two or three pieces. If you don’t have string, you could use elastic bands.
  • Cover tables (and the floor) with newspaper or tablecloths – this activity’s likely to get a bit messy.

Story time

  1. Everyone should sit in a circle.
  2. Someone should read Cai the Hungry Caterpillar by Jess Connett. Make sure you save a copy before the session.
  3. After reading the story, everyone should take some time to reflect on it as a group. We’ve included some questions to help you reflect in the pink box below.


Craft a caterpillar

  1. Everyone should help to mix the grass seed into the compost.
  2. The person leading the activity should give everyone a piece of tights. Everyone should find the open end, and stuff their caterpillar full of the grass seed and compost mixture.
  1. When their caterpillar is full, everyone should tie a knot in the open end to keep the compost safely inside. An adult may need to help with this – it’s a bit tricky.
  2. Ask everyone to wash their hands.
  3. An adult should help everyone to tie two or three pieces of string around their caterpillar to create a head and sections of body.
  1. Everyone should get creative and use the craft materials and glue to give their caterpillar features and bring it to life. They could add eyes, tentacles or antennae, and a mouth.
  2. Ask everyone to wash their hands.
  3. Everyone should sprinkle their caterpillars with water and leave them on a windowsill to soak up the sunshine. To look after them, they’ll need to water them once or twice a week.
  4. Over time, everyone should see their caterpillars grow bright green hair. If they want to, they could give their caterpillars a haircut.

Reflection

During this activity, everyone learned more about plants and how they grow. They also worked together to solve problems and complete their caterpillars.

Cai the Hungry Caterpillar

  • Can you remember what types of food Cai ate?
  • What is your favourite food to eat?

Craft a caterpillar

  • Why is it important to have lots of plants that bugs (and people) can enjoy?
  • Did anyone find parts of this activity tricky? What helped to make it easier? People could think about asking a friend for help or trying again when things didn’t go to plan.

Safety

All activities must be safely managed. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Do a risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Always get approval for the activity and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.

Scissors

Supervise young people appropriately when they’re using scissors. Store all sharp objects securely, out of the reach of young people.

Gardening and nature

Everyone must wash their hands after the activity has finished. Wear gloves if needed. Explain how to safely use equipment and set clear boundaries so everyone knows what’s allowed.

Glue and solvents

Supervise young people appropriately when they’re using glue and solvent products. Make sure there’s plenty of ventilation. Be aware of any medical conditions which could be affected by glue or solvent use and make adjustments as needed.