The Hungry Caterpillar Play Dough Story-telling

We’ve combined two of our favourite things, play dough and stories, to come up with a fun new way to re-tell our favourite picture books! Using coloured, no-cook play dough, wooden food, a butterfly toy and a well-worn copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, the girls retold the story in an exciting, active way from memory!
Early literacy skills are fundamentally built upon a knowledge of rhyme and stories. The more stories young children hear, the better their understanding of language and literacy and the greater their ability to read and write with comprehension as they get older. You can read about the theory of reading the same stories repeatedly until children can memorise them and retell independently in this original post about our 5 a Day Books scheme.

 We made some of our easy no-cook play dough in red, green and yellow for creating the caterpillar with. Then we collected some wooden play food using the book as a guide to help us find what we needed. We had most of the items that the caterpillar eats through in the story, but not all, so the girls had to problem solve the missing ones!

I laid it all out on the table as an invitation to play, and Cakie started to make a caterpillar model immediately, copying carefully from pictures in the book. I love how she rolled thin strips of yellow to create the outlines of the eyes- something I wouldn’t have thought of at all!
Pop was inspired by her big sister (always the way at the moment!) and started to make her own caterpillar too. I absolutely love the developmental contrast between the two finished pieces! This is why open-ended play and creative prompts are so important and appropriate at this stage. If we had been doing a fixed outcome craft instead we would have ended up with 2 identical products and absolutely no suggestion of age, developmental stage or creativity!

 They then used the food and butterfly toy to retell the story, turning the pages and matching up items as they did so. C noticed that we didn’t have some of the food and she set about making it from play dough instead. She made wonderful representations of the sausage and cherry pie! Pop also played along, using some of the key elements of the story that she could remember, with the main features in the correct order. Fantastic early literacy skill practise and emergent reading just beginning!

Here are some other creative ways to re-tell stories:

Gruffalo Play Dough story telling

Little Red Riding Hood Story box

Goldilocks and the 3 Bears Dramatic play

Learning links:

literacy: story-telling, recount, key elements of stories, emergent reading

Cakie: 3.11
Pop: 2.5
Bean: 6 months

What story would YOU choose to retell with play dough?!


  1. says

    Love this, The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a constant favourite at our house. Thank you for the great playdough recipe too, will be trying that out tomorrow!

  2. says

    This is great! Especially the 2 very different creations by your girls. We just retold Thumbelina using play dough a couple of days ago. I also linked-up to your Little Red Riding Hood story box post.

  3. says

    We also love the book and thank you soooooooooooo much for the wonderful idea!! very impressed with the two caterpillars!!! congratulationsssssssssssss

  4. says

    So beautiful! Love the caterpillars made by the girls as well! We got a book in Dutch about a monkey and a donkey in a heated debate on something they found, they try it as a had, they wonder if you can sit on it, if it is for swimming etc etc… it turns out it is made to read: it is a book. But that would be great with dough as they learn all sorts of up/under words and visualize them as well as activities.