Cart 0

Learning Sequencing Through Eric Carle Books

Author: Pamela Elters


Mitchell Elementary School

Year: 2011

Seminar: Children's Literature

Grade Level: Kindergarten

Keywords: counting, Eric Carle, illustrations, maps, size

School Subject(s): English

This curriculum unit is written for children in the first grade but could be adapted for either kindergarten or second.  In my unit I wanted children to learn sequencing through the stories and artwork of Eric Carle.  As an author, Eric Carle writes mostly about sequencing or order.  The children can enjoy learning days of the week, months of the year, time and elapsed time.  They can also explore maps, size order and counting.   The most exciting parts of Eric Carle’s books are his illustrations.  He uses painted, cut pieces of paper for his pictures through the art of collage.  In this unit, the children will choose a form of sequencing, write a book, and illustrate with Carle’s style.

First graders thrive on learning through repetition.  Eric Carle provides this learning style in most of his books.  The children’s work will be mostly hands on as well.  Through illustrating their own books they take ownership and are able to be creative.

Download Unit: 11.01.02.pdf

Did you try this unit in your classroom? Give us your feedback here.

Full Unit Text
Content Objectives


Children must master the various forms of sequencing at a very young age. How can we combine this journey with literacy? In studying the first grade curriculum of The School District of Philadelphia one finds that we need to teach time, days of the week, months of the year, maps, and times of the day. In covering these standards the subject areas are math, social studies, science and literacy.

This unit will look at the works of Eric Carle. He has succeeded in teaching these sequencing objectives in a fun, colorful, and exciting world a child can enjoy. The children will learn through repetition, reading, visuals, art, and writing their own sequencing published piece.

In reading through the rationale of the unit I will explain why children need to learn the concepts of sequencing. It will discuss the importance of telling time and elapsed time, reading maps, calendars, and months of the year. These are all essential pieces of everyday knowledge that must be taught since they are not a part of naturally inherent knowledge.


Telling time, reading maps, knowing days of the week and months of the year are all part of the background knowledge a person needs to live an everyday life. Children’s minds are sponges that are able to absorb this information at an early age. These concepts must be repeated over and over in various ways for them to master them. By exposing them to these concepts through literature it opens other avenues for learning. The concepts are taught through repetition and illustration.

According to Booth, much of sequencing can also be taught through music. The repeating of the order of things through song helps children make a natural connection to the patterning and sequencing (Booth, 2006).

When we can make connections to sequencing through literature, just like in music, it becomes a fluent way of learning. Through repetition, choral reading, and visuals we help the child to remember what they hear and see. This way the visual and auditory child is included in the lesson.

Barns tells us that children have a natural curiosity and enthusiasm. This enables the child to build the framework to understand relationships. These relationships include days, weeks, months, today, tomorrow, yesterday, or next week (Barns, 2006). Having a calendar in the classroom and talking about elapsed time for events to happen help to make connections between abstract times and actual events. For example, when a child knows the month of his/her birthday, sequencing the months of the year puts the time until their birthday into perspective. In discussing what events happen before and after a period of time, the child learns sequencing or order.

Following the relationship of calendars to elapsed time, the notion of analogue clock time is also a concept that can be taught through stories and daily routines. In a classroom there is a schedule for the day broken down by times. Children eventually connect the time of the activity to the time on the clock. Younger children have a difficult time understanding the passage of time. Through literature they can sometimes visually connect to how time is spent.

Authors’ illustrations are also an important part of publishing. In exposing children to various art forms used to illustrate books, we enrich their imaginations and their knowledge. Eric Carle began as an art illustrator for magazine ads. One day, he was contacted by educator and author Bill Martin, Jr. Bill had seen a picture of a lobster Eric had created for an ad and he wanted Eric to illustrate a story he’d written. The result of their collaboration was Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? (Henry Holt) published to great acclaim in 1966—and still in print ( We want children to become invested in their writing, and in the early stages, illustrations are sometimes more important than the words. Beginning reading and writing begin with pictures.


This unit is intended for students in first grade. They are in a self-contained classroom for all major subjects. Art, Library, Computers, Physical Education, and sometimes Music are taught by a specialist teacher outside the homeroom for 45 minutes every day. They have a 45 minute lunch/recess period; when it is nice they go outside for 20 minutes of the time, if not they sit in the lunchroom for 45 minutes. Some children receive special education for math or reading for 3o minutes each day.

The objectives for the unit are as follows:

  • read a simple map
  • create a map for a treasure hunt
  • write and tell time to the quarter, half, and hour on an analogue clock
  • repeat the days of the week
  • repeat the months of the year
  • choral read phrases with repetition
  • publish a book using sequencing
  • illustrate their book by using painted paper collage technique of Eric Carle

Teaching Strategies

The strategies for this unit will encompass a variety of methods. Direct instruction will be the dominant strategy. Included in the direct instruction will be read-alouds of the various Eric Carle materials. There will also be discussions of the sequence focus of the story. The students will be involved in using their prior and learned knowledge to answer questions orally and on paper. They will engage in a variety of activities to reinforce the lessons. The writing process will be used for brainstorming, rough drafts, editing and publishing.

Direct Instruction

Direct instruction is teacher led. Many methods can be used for direct instruction.

Shared Reading

The strategy of shared reading will be used in every lesson of this unit. Shared reading is a read-aloud to the entire class. Through this method, children learn reading skills by listening to inflection, phrasing, punctuation, and questioning. After the reading, children interact by discussing various skills such as beginning, middle, end or characters, problems, and solutions.

Prior Knowledge

By activating prior knowledge the child begins to make connections to things they already know. They use schema to connect to self or connect to other stories that have been read by them or to them. When the child can make a personal connection, the book holds much more value to their person.

Graphic Organizers

Graphic organizers are types of mapping that let the child put things in order. When using these aides it is easier for them to recall and see the events in the story. By connecting what is in their brain to paper we are securing the knowledge.


Modeling is the strategy where the teacher shows certain behaviors he/she is expecting from the students. It can involve reading, writing, or math. The teacher verbally explains as they demonstrate the activity for the class.

Shared Writing

The culminating activity will be to write a book. Shared writing shows the child with precise directions for the writing process. The process will include a story web, rough or ―sloppy‖ copy, editing with teacher, and final copy.


The culminating activity will include illustrations. The method of illustrating will be the painted paper on paper that Eric Carle uses in his children’s books.

Classroom Activities


The students will engage in the following activities for assessment in various subjects:

  • making treasure hunt maps
  • worksheets on telling time
  • write the month of their birthday
  • drawing the sequence of the day from morning to night making a months of the year booklet

The time frame for the activities will be six lessons. Each lesson will vary in length from about 45 minutes to 1 hour. The final lesson, which involves the writing and illustration processes, will be an ongoing activity for writing that will take one writing period for five days in a row. The lessons will all relate Eric Carle storybooks to a form of sequencing. The lessons will all involve a follow up activity.

Their culminating activity will be to publish a book with the theme of sequencing. They will choose what type of sequence activity they will use for the main idea. The full writing process will be involved to create a published piece. The student will also illustrate in the same style as Eric Carle. Eric Carle paints tissue paper and then cuts out pieces to collage his illustrations. We will use regular paper since tissue paper is too delicate for first graders to work with. They will then share their works with their classmates.

Lesson 1: Days of the Week

Objectives: The student will be able to choral read repeated phrases. The student will be able to recite the days of the week in order. The student will be able to name an activity they do on each day of the week. The student will be able to make a booklet of the days of the week in order and illustrate with the activity they have chosen for that day.

Materials: Today Is Monday by Eric Carle
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
T chart paper for booklet
Crayons for illustrations


Procedure: Sing days of the week song to engage prior knowledge. Today Is Monday and The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Question children about things they do on certain days of the week, ex. ―What do you do on Sunday?‖ Make an ordered list on the board of the days of the week. Children copy the list onto a T chart. Explain that the booklet they make must be in the same order as the list. Children will proceed to make their booklets and illustrate them.

Extension: Have some individuals share their books with the class.

Lesson 2: Months of the Year

Objectives: The student will be able to put the months of the year in order. The student will be able to write a sentence about their birthday month and illustrate.

Materials: A House For a Hermit Crab by Eric Carle
Calendar of the year


Procedure: Read through the calendar of the year, making special note of the twelve months of the year and the beginning and ending of the year. Read aloud A House For a Hermit Crab. Discuss how the hermit crab changed during each month in the book by asking questions about it. Distribute drawing paper. Have students write the month of the year when their birthday falls at the top. They then write a sentence about that month and what is special about it, or something they do that is special during that month. The children complete their work with an illustration to go with the sentence.

Extension: Several students can share their sentences and illustrations. Ask students if they know what happens in another month of the year.

Lesson 3: Telling time and elapsed time by the hour

Objectives: The student will be able to tell time by the hour on an analogue clock. The student will be able to tell elapsed time from hour to hour. The student will be able to write time to the hour on a clock.

Materials: The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle Large
Clock with moveable hands
Individual student clocks with moveable hands
Worksheet for writing time on clocks


Procedure: Sing ―Hickory Dickory Dock‖ while moving the hands on the large clock to different times. The children then show the time on their small clocks. Repeat several times modeling how the minute and hour hands move from one hour to another. Read The Grouchy Ladybug. While reading, show the clocks on the pages and how they are moving to the next hour with each page. Discuss how long the ladybug has been traveling.

Extensions: Involve children in a discussion about what they do at different hours during the day. Model how to complete worksheet on telling time.

Lesson 4: Sequencing movement using maps

Objectives: The student will be able to read a simple map. The student will be able to follow verbal directions to navigate a map. The student will be able to construct a simple treasure map.

Materials: The Secret Birthday Message by Eric Carle
Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me by Eric Carle


Procedure: Access prior knowledge with a discussion about what a map is and how they can be helpful. Read The Secret Birthday Message and Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me. Have the children follow the simple maps in the books. Retrace steps of the children in the book. Question what happened first, second, etc.

Extensions: Find places on a simple map. Design your own treasure map. Fold a paper into fourths. In each block write and draw the sequence of the day. Morning, afternoon, evening, and night.

Lesson 5: Illustrating with painted and cut paper

Objectives: The student will use painted and colored medium to illustrate a page from their months of the year, a self-made sequencing booklet.

Materials: Short film
Various Eric Carle books for the use of their illustrations


Procedure: Share with the children the various illustrations from the Eric Carle books. Ask if they can describe how the illustrations are made. Explain that Eric Carle paints tissue paper. Then he cuts out pieces and builds his pictures. Show the short film about his illustrating technique. Demonstrate with paper, paint, and crayons how they could make and build their own illustration. (Use regular white paper because tissue paper is too delicate for first graders). First they will draw a sketch of the illustration they want to build. Then allow them to paint or color their pieces and glue them to make the illustration.

Extensions: When they have finished, discuss how easy or difficult the job was. If they were to write a book, would they choose this method of illustrating? If not, what would they choose to use? Give them choices such as sketching, painting, coloring, photographs, etc.


Reading List

Barnes, Mary Kathleen. ―How Many Days til My Birthday.‖ Teaching Children Mathematics, Feb 2006, Vol. 12, Issue 6, p290-295.

Booth Church, Ellen. ―Early Childhood Today.‖ Oct 2006. Vol. 21, Issue 2, p33-34.

Jenkins, Kate. ―Positioning Picture Books within the Mathematics Curriculum.‖ Australian Primary Mathematics Classroom, Jun 2010. Vol. 15, Issue 2.

Kennedy, Alexandra. ―An Interview with Eric Carle.‖ Cricket, Apr 2010. Vol. 37, Issue 7, p27-30. ―Lifetime Achievement Awards- 2010 Contemporary: Eric Carle‖

Student Resources

Carle, Eric. A House for Hermit Crab. New York, NY: Scholastic Inc., 1987.

Carle, Eric. The Grouchy Ladybug. New York, NY: HarperCollins, 1996.

Carle, Eric. The Secret Birthday Message. New York, NY: HarperCollins, 1971.

Carle, Eric. The Very Hungry Caterpillar. New York, NY: Scholastic Inc., 1969.

Carle, Eric. The Very Quiet Cricket. New York, NY: Philomel Books, 1990.

Carle, Eric. Today Is Monday. New York, NY: Philomel Books, 1993.

Carle, Eric. Papa, Please Get The Moon For Me. New York, NY: Scholastic Inc., 1986.


Appendix: Worksheets

(see PDF)

Appendix: Standards

The School District of Philadelphia has a core curriculum that is aligned with the Pennsylvania Academic Standards in Math, Social Studies, Literacy, and Science. The following standards will be assessed at the end of the unit:

1.1.1.G.1 – Retell a story in a logical and sequential order including some detail from text

1.1.1.G.3 – Connect the new information or ideas in a story to real life events

1.1.1.H.6 – Demonstrate connections with information while reading

1.4.1.A.2 – Select appropriate illustrations to accompany story

1.5.1.C.2 – Include a beginning, middle and end when writing a story

1.6.1.B.3 – Identify the chronological order within a story

1.6.1.E.6 – Sequence steps in an activity, event or situation

2.3.1.C.1 – Determine and compare elapsed times

2.3.1.D.1 – Tell time to the nearest hour and half hour using analog and digital clock

7.1.1.B.2 – Identify and locate places and regions

2.6.1.A.1 – Gather, organize, and display data on a bar graph and/or pictograph