Hungry caterpillar music!

Greenwich Early Years Music took part in Greenwich Book Festival 2016, delivering a free class for 0-5s at Charlton Toy Library inspired by Eric Carle’s classic storybook “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”.

Bethan Scolding, head of Greenwich Early Years Music, talks about leading the class and using storybooks as inspiration for music-making at home…

This was a lovely class to plan and teach. Eric Carle’s book is such a classic and well-loved book, with beautiful illustrations, and the story of a caterpillar’s life-cycle is fantastic food for imagination and play, with opportunities to explore creepy crawlies, favourite foods, butterflies, colours, flying, growing and changing.

In this class we created a musical re-telling of the story using songs, movement, percussion and voice sounds. We used our voices and percussion to make the sound of moonlight and sunrise, and the pop of the caterpillar hatching out of his egg. We wiggled and moved like caterpillars as we sang about the caterpillar munching on food and growing bigger and bigger the more he ate. We thought about our favourite fruits and vegetables and made a wonderful imaginary pie to share. We sang as we spun an imaginary cocoon and got sleepier and sleepier before turning into a beautiful group butterfly, using colourful scarfs as our wings as we flew away! Throughout the session we explored loud and soft sounds, high and low sounds, and found different ways to join in every song with our voices, movements and instruments. The Toy Library was a fantastic venue for the class. They had been making caterpillar pictures during their weekly craft sessions and they even had some real caterpillars that the children will be watching grow over the next few weeks before they are released as butterflies into the garden. 

Storybooks are a great starting point for exploring sounds and creating music. You can take almost any story and add music to it, or re-tell little bits through sound. Percussion instruments can illustrate a character’s movements, or create a sound effect for a particular event. Equally, voice sounds, tapping on the floor, and making sounds with household objects are all great fun and good opportunities for listening to and playing with sound. Changing the words to a well-known song to fit a story is another great starting point. Stories can be great resources for primary music education as well. I recently gave a piano lesson where we composed musical sounds for five different mermaids’ hairstyles in a picturebook, and another piano student has been creating rhythms for different aliens in space, and the sound of a shark under the sea.



Find out more about Greenwich Early Years Music classes.