The Very Hungry Caterpillar: ESL Lesson Plan [Free PDF]


Navigating the world of English can be a wonderful journey, filled with discoveries that engage the mind, heart, and senses. Teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) requires an approach that combines language instruction with engaging, relatable content. What better way to facilitate this learning process than through the delightful, colorful world of a classic children’s book?

the very hungry caterpillar esl lesson plan

This lesson plan is centered around Eric Carle’s beloved book, “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.” The story provides a unique opportunity to teach English vocabulary related to food, days of the week, and the natural life cycle of a butterfly, all within a narrative that delights and inspires curiosity.

Through a series of interactive activities, including reading the story, sentence construction, drawing, and role-playing, students will be immersed in the language and concepts of the book. These activities not only build language skills, but also foster creativity, critical thinking, and comprehension skills.

By the end of this lesson, students will have enhanced their vocabulary, practiced using new words and concepts in context, and experienced the joy of learning English through storytelling. With “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” as our guide, this journey into English becomes a memorable adventure of discovery and learning.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar: ESL Lesson Plan (1642 downloads )


Students will be able to understand and use vocabulary related to food, days of the week, and basic life cycles using the popular children’s book “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle.

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Approximately 60 minutes.


  1. A copy of “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle
  2. Flashcards featuring food items, days of the week, and the stages of a butterfly’s life cycle
  3. Blank paper and colored pencils for drawing
  4. Sentence construction strips

Warm-Up (10 minutes)

Vocabulary Introduction

Introduce key vocabulary from the story using flashcards. Vocabulary should include:

  • Caterpillar
  • Butterfly
  • Egg
  • Cocoon (or chrysalis)
  • The days of the week
  • Names of the food items that the caterpillar eats

Check comprehension by asking students to match the words with images or descriptions.

Presentation (15 minutes)

Reading the Story

Read “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” aloud to the class, showing them the illustrations and emphasizing the key vocabulary. Pause periodically to ask comprehension questions and reinforce vocabulary.

Practice (20 minutes)

Food and Days of the Week Practice

Distribute sentence construction strips that contain phrases from the story such as “On [day of the week], the very hungry caterpillar ate through [number] [food item].” Students should fill in the blanks with the days of the week and food items, based on the story.

Life Cycle Drawing

Instruct the students to draw the life cycle of a butterfly as described in the story. This activity will help students understand the concept of a life cycle and reinforce the related vocabulary. They should label each stage with the appropriate term (egg, caterpillar, cocoon, butterfly).

Production (10 minutes)

Role-play Activity

Split students into pairs or small groups. Assign each group a different day of the week from the story and have them act out the caterpillar’s activities for that day, using the food items and action verbs from the story. This activity will help students put the vocabulary they’ve learned into action.

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Wrap-Up (5 minutes)


End the lesson by encouraging students to share what they’ve learned from the story and the activities. Ask them to reflect on the new vocabulary they’ve learned, and discuss how they might use these words in their everyday lives. Also, encourage them to think about other life cycles they might be familiar with.

Through this lesson, students will gain a basic understanding of natural life cycles while also expanding their vocabulary in a fun, engaging way. By focusing on a popular children’s story, the lesson also promotes the development of literacy skills. This lesson plan offers a comprehensive learning experience that is as enjoyable as it is educational.