High school students from the Eastern Suffolk BOCES Bellport Academic Center (BAC) had a date with preschoolers at the Early Childhood Education (ECE) class to read "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" by Eric Carle. Everyone gathered in the Cozy Corner to hear the tale of this pesky insect and voracious feeder. The book follows the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly, after consuming a wide variety of foodstuffs.
Each year, through the National Reading Program, and the collaborative efforts of ECE teacher Jayne Kaht and special education teacher Mary Bickford, high school student volunteers visit the ECE classroom and read to the children. Stacey S., Longwood CSD; Ashley G., Bay Shore UFSD; Jessica G., Miller Place UFSD; Camryn M., East Islip UFSD, and Sean S., Sayville UFSD are members of the BAC Student Council and earned the privilege to read to the preschoolers. Ms. Bickford said, "It's a satisfying and valuable experience for the high school students."
Reading aloud is beneficial to both age groups. Each can appreciate a positive shared learning experience. For the preschoolers, it's fun to sit back, relax, and focus on the story, especially when it's read dramatically and with vocal inflections. The high school students get the opportunity to practice their language skills, and infuse the characters and story with life. Additionally, the students utilized a storyboard display with flannel board pieces. As the tale unfolded, the preschoolers chanted the food being eaten by the caterpillar - "two pears, three plums, four strawberries, five oranges," until the storyboard was filled with the many, many different foods consumed by the caterpillar. After much anticipation, the caterpillar transformed into a butterfly and fluttered onto the storyboard. The preschoolers cheered and applauded the transformation of the hungry caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly.
The book teaches an array of concepts through colorful illustrations, like counting, days of the week, and different types of food.