The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Ulat yang lapar sekali title pic

We all love the good old favourite children’s classic book ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ by Eric Carle. What’s not to love about it, right? But have you considered it’s many benefits in a primary Indonesian classroom?

When I was in uni I had an assignment to make an Indonesian book that could be used in the primary Indonesian Languages Program. Well, I came up with translating The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Because, why? Because I love that book! Not just because it’s cute and fun but because of it’s many beneficial language learning possibilities and the endless activities that can be used with it. So, I wanted to share some of them with you.

But firstly…

The benefits of using picture story books in the Languages classroom:

  • to engage and inspire both reading and writing
  • literature provides a language model for those who hear and read it
  • models correct sentence patterns
  • develops visual literacy
  • integrates the curriculum; supplements and enriches various parts of the curriculum
  • communicative language approach
  • illustrations provide a creative and artistic learning environment, which children respond well to
  • provides ideal context for literacy practise and linguistic acquisition

Now, for a closer look at The Very Hungry Caterpillar. I’m a big believer in repetition, language learning is learnt and remembered best when repetition is a factor. The more you hear a word, the more chance that you are going to remember it. There are ways of making this a fun experience rather than the boring old rote learning technique. Reading or telling a story that is loved dearly is one of these techniques and students can re-tell a story that they love quite easily.

Ulat Yang lapar Sekali Collage pic

Some benefits of the repetitive language in The Very Hungry Caterpillar story are days of the week, numbers and a variety of foods. Great vocabulary for every day purposeful language use. Other developmental language benefits are; sequencing events in the correct order, using the concept of ordinal numbers, learning the meanings of new vocabulary and listening for a purpose.

Of course you can use The Very Hungry Caterpillar book {Indonesian version of course!} with your Indonesian primary class and they will learn so much from this, particularly as they are most likely familiar with the English version of the book. For a pdf copy of my home-made version of the story {with Indonesian translation}, click here; ‘Ulat yang lapar sekali‘. You could easily make your own or even make one together as a class. Such a fun activity.


There are various specific learning outcomes to using this story in the Indonesian primary classroom.

Learning outcomes:

  • comprehend the story {in Indonesian} read to them and recognise the growing pattern the author uses
  • use a flow map {Thinking Map that shows the sequence of events} to plan the growing pattern of their own story
  • use the writing process {with a model of the book and a model from the teacher} to write their own version
  • revise and edit their own story.

Aside from using the original story of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, have you ever thought about students writing their own version of a ‘Very Hungry’ story but changing it up to have an Indonesian style and focus?

It could include an Indonesian animal such as a komodo dragon or an orangutan, maybe even the hornbill. It could, of course, also include a variety of Indonesian foods and vocabulary. The language pattern could stay the same as the original version but students change the vocabulary to their own choices. The fruits vocabulary could stay the same, or changed up, thats up to you {or up to your students} but fruit is useful vocabulary that students can use on an every day basis. Other food vocabulary could be replaced with Indonesian style foods.

For example; Pada hari Sabtu dia makan nasi goreng, sate ayam, ayam goreng, pisang goreng, mi goreng…

Head to FUSE to access some great food and drinks flashcards in PPT format. These can be found in the ‘Mari kita makan!’ Indonesian eBookbox – there are some great images to source for students to use for a variety of ideas for their own Very Hungry book.

When using picture story-books such as; The Very Hungry Caterpillar, the possibilities are endless and your students could really have some creative fun with modelled writing to enhance their own reading and writing skills. A stack of extension activities could follow on after developing their Very Hungry books, this would of course vary depending on the age of the students and your specific curriculum focus.

Do you include picture story-books in your Indonesian Languages Program?

Have you used The Very Hungry Caterpillar in your classes?

What follow-up activities did you do with your students?

I’d love to hear some of your ideas!


  1. Manjeet Ahluwalia says

    Dear Julie,

    Thank you for this brilliant resource as it is on line. My students delight in reading this story because they are all familiar with the one written in English. It makes it easier and fun which encourages them to try and remember the vocabulary.


    • indospired says

      Thanks for stopping by my blog Manjeet and happy to hear that you found this blog post useful! Yes, I agree, a well known story is a great focus for students as it’s not so daunting for them and they can feel more confidence in the fact that they are familiar with the story and the vocabulary. Picture story books are wonderful to use the Languages classroom. Thanks for your kind words! 🙂

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