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Children’s Illustrators #2: Eric Carle

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Lesson Overview:

In this lesson, children are introduced to the basic elements of Eric Carle’s artistic style.  They will make a Carle-inspired “collage” using a blended color technique.

Lesson Plan:


Identify and describe the artistic style of illustrator Eric Carle.

Suggested Time:

45 minutes – 1 hour

Success Criteria:

Students will be able to recognize an Eric Carle picture or book and describe basic elements of his style.  Students will also complete a “Very Hungry Caterpillar Collage” using the style of Eric Carle.


If you have studied other illustrators, briefly review what the children have learned.  Introduce illustrator Eric Carle by holding up a few books whose covers the children should recognize.


Today we’ll look at the work of illustrator, Eric Carle.  We’ll do the following things together:

  1. Look at some illustrations.
  2. Read a book together.
  3. Watch a short interview with Eric Carle
  4. Create a piece of art in the style of Eric Carle.

1.     Show the children some of Mr. Carle’s character illustrations and as them to look very carefully.  What color(s) do they see?  Use, for example, The Little Cloud.  Ask the children if they see the color white?  grey? silver? blue?  The butterfly at the back of The Very Hungry Caterpillar or the star in Draw Me A Star are also excellent examples.

The big idea should be that in Mr. Carle’s work you can see many colors.  He uses paint to blends colors on paper, allows them to dry, then cuts out shapes and puts them together in a collage to make his pictures.  Make sure that the children understand the concept of blended colors and collage.

2.     Read The Very Hungry Caterpillar together.  Pay close attention to the end papers.  The cutout circles are central to the storytelling.  A lot of teachers skip the cutout circles, or dots.  Do not skip them!!  Make sure that the children notice them!!

Discussion questions:

  • Why do you think that so many people like this story?
  • What makes this a classic picture book?
  • How many colors do you think that Mr. Carle used?
  • Why do you think the book has holes and different sized pages?

3.     Watch the interview clip(s) of Eric Carle.  Check understanding by asking a few simple questions:

  • What does Eric Carle love?  (Color)
  • How old is The Very Hungry Caterpillar (40+)
  • What technique does Eric Carle use the most?  (Collage)
  • What is the responsibility of the illustrator or designer?  (To make something beautiful for the people to enjoy.)

4.     Give students the Eric Carle coloring page.  Ask them to use Eric Carle’s technique of blending colors in the fruits, food, and caterpillar.  Once they have finished a few parts, have them cut out the parts and reassemble them on a different paper, perhaps a colored paper, so that the finished product resembles a collage.

Note:  Although Mr. Carle blends colors with paint, I have always kept this lesson simple by using crayons or colored pencils.  The children will surprise you with all the colors that they combine.


Encourage the children to read Mr. Carle’s books, look carefully at his illustrations, and try making an illustration of their own in Mr. Carle’s style.


1.     Official Eric Carle Website:  http://www.eric-carle.com/home.html

2.     Eric Carle interview:

·      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fvRcCKP5v6Q  (Eric Carle interview, Waterstone, 40th Anniversary of The Very Hungry Caterpillar).

·      http://www.readingrockets.org/books/interviews/carle   (Eric Carle Reading Rockets Interview, clip #1 on visual pollution).

3.     Assortment of Eric Carle books

4.     Eric Carle Coloring Sheet for The Very Hungry Caterpillar, taken from Mr. Carle’s web site.  http://www.eric-carle.com/ColoringSheet.jpg

Art supplies including scissors and colored pencils or crayons.


I have found the blending colors takes some time.  The children love to experiment and use different color combinations and shadings.  Some may like to draw their own characters and illustrate them in Eric Carle’s style.  There are an endless number of Eric Carle projects and lessons on Mr. Carle’s website and on sites like Pinterest.  But, I found this simple one to be very effective in combining the literature, art, and interview with an easy activity to give kids a general understanding of Mr. Carle’s works in one period.

Recommended Books for This Lesson:
  1. The Very Hungry Caterpillar
  2. The Grouchy Ladybug
  3. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
  4. The Tiny Seed
  5. I See a Song
  6. The Very Busy Spider
  7. Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me
  8. A House for a Hermit Crab
  9. The Lamb and the Butterfly
  10. Animals Animals
  11. The Very Quiet Cricket
  12. Polar Bear, Polar Bear, what Do You Hear?
  13. Pancakes, Pancakes!
  14. Walter the Baker
  15. The Mixed-Up Chameleon
  16. Draw Me a Star
  17. The Very Lonely Firefly
  18. Little Cloud
  19. Mister Seahorse
Key Terms:

Eric Carle, Color, Colour, Illustrators, Illustration, Art


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