The Very Hungry Caterpillar Sensory Storytelling Tub

Make a sensory tub inspired by the classic story The Very Hungry Caterpillar for creative and playful storytelling with kids!
Using story props and sensory play materials is a fantastic way to bring favourite stories to life for young children. It encourages oral storytelling, sequencing, thinking about main characters and events and is a perfect way to introduce early drama skills too! A little while ago we brought the story of The Very Hungry Caterpillar to life using play dough and story props, and now we have had more fun doing the same using a sensory tub! We made this for a friend’s 3rd birthday party as a game for the little ones to enjoy.
Tub Contents:
dyed green rice (leftover from our Christmas sensory tub 2011)
coloured large bottle tops
coloured lolly sticks
cardboard tubes with shiny tape wrapped around for pouring (from the Willy Wonka birthday party tub)
neon plastic shot glasses for scooping
coloured cotton reels
coloured pom poms
wooden fruit, cakes, ice creams and other food items from the story
a few real clementines for a real sensory experience!
a Very Hungry Caterpillar butterfly toy (a caterpillar would be a fabulous addition too!)
a copy of the book 

As with all sensory tubs, we all immediately loved to scoop, pour and run our hand through the rice (me most definitely included!) It can have such a calming effect and is very therapeutic at the end of a hectic day she the kids are cranky and tired. The girl recognised the butterfly and realised that the items in the tub could be found in the book. They started to tell the story, focusing on their favourite elements (ice cream and cake of course!) and were able to remember the key events in the correct order.

Little Bean loved it too and at first I was hesitant to let her get her hands in it, but after a while there was not stopping her curiosity and she just loved picking handfuls of rice and dropping them again. She only tried to taste it one time but I gently pushed her hand away and said “no”, and after that she tipped and poured with it instead. The next time we got this out to play with, she got right into it and sat down!

What they are learning while they play:
literacy: storytelling from memory, retelling in correct order, sequencing, remembering key elements of a story, using storybook language in play
motor skills: scooping, pouring, tipping, pinching and raking through sensory materials
maths: counting out numbers of objects to match those in a book, problem solving

Cakie: 4.5
Pop: 2.10
Bean: 11 mos

To see dozens of other Playful Literacy ideas click the image!

See our other sensory tubs!
Golden Cinnamon Tub
Flowers and Fairies Tub
Baking Sensory Tub
Patriotic Sensory Tub
Lunar Landscape Sensory Play
Gardening Sensory Tub

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  1. says

    My youngest is 11 months! I never thought I could do a sensory tub with her. How cool. I’m excited to go make a tub & let all the kids play. Great idea! :-)

  2. says

    If you wanted to sell a kit for these tubs, I’d buy it! I just dont know how id get hold of all these items without spending a fortune (and where would I find them!) I just dont have a varied toy collection yet as our LO is our first. Would LOVE to do this for the Gruffalo though, as my 20 month old knows it basically off by heart! “The mouse found a NUT and the NUT was GOOD!”

  3. says

    Hello! I’ve written a round up of bottle top play and learning ideas and have included this awesome post. I hope that you don’t mind me using one picture and your link. If you’d like me to take it out of the post just give me a shout :) The post will be live on Monday 11 February. Keep up the fabulous work :)