In the beginning, I did not plan on having my students engage in an author study; there were just Eric Carle books that fit with the things we were doing in the classroom! It started with "The Tiny Seed" - we have a large garden/small farm at our school, and as we explored it, we read every book we could about growing things. Then came "The Very Hungry Caterpillar", which went along with our very own caterpillars in our classroom. It was fun to read about this caterpillar's journey as we watched our caterpillars make their chrysalises and transform into butterflies.
When we got our classroom pets (hermit crabs), it just made sense to read "A House for Hermit Crab". We talked about the homes of our hermit crabs as we made observations.
When our school volunteer, Farmer John, began cooking with us, he suggested that we start with pancakes. Realizing that I also owned "Pancakes, Pancakes" (yep, by Eric Carle!), I knew that not only did I have to read it for the obvious classroom connections, but it was time to talk about Eric Carle as an author and his work.
I was fortunate enough to meet the wonderful author when I was younger and I have several of his books, a couple of which are signed. It started very simply, and without much of a plan - we kind of just went with the flow. But I'm happy to say, my students love Eric Carle and are really excited to learn about his work. We discussed an author's job, and as the students began to recognize Carle's work without my prompting, we dove into some real research. We visited Carle's website and watched him read "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" to us. We also looked at his pictures, and the children loved guessing who the people in the photographs were and what they meant to Carle. They really love that he "looks like a grandpa" and have very interesting and insightful theories about his life and work.
They discussed amongst themselves how he came to make his books -
M: "When he was small, he didn’t know how to do it"
S: "When he got big, he thinked and thinked until he stopped thinkin’ and then wrote it. "
It's really amazing how quickly and thoroughly they absorb the information - they compare and contrast pictures of him when he was young and recent pictures, they can tell which books he illustrated, and have been asking a lot of questions and have been talking about him on their own. Even my students who never went to our library center before started heading that way, picking out his books. And they asked to go to his museum... I wish I could take them :-(
Anyway, this is a really long post, sorry - but I wanted to kind of summarize everything that we have done so that future posts will make sense, as we continue to explore Carle. One of my students already said he wished he could make pictures like Carle, little does he know we are going to be discovering illustrations and becoming illustrators as we continue or study!
I'm also really excited to get back to school and our study tomorrow, because thanks to Teach Preschool I found out that Kohls was selling Carle books and stuffed animals for 5 dollars each! What a great addition to our library center and wonderful way to get the kids reengaged after a long break!