The Hungry Caterpillar

By Sonia Salunke, Girls Innovate! Teen Committee

Working with kids is one of my favorite things to do. So, when the opportunity came up with the Teen Committee to conduct an activity amongst the summer campers at Steve & Kate’s Camp, I signed up right away.

Emma and I decided to work together. Fortunately, when we sat down to brainstorm, we immediately agreed on an idea. Just weeks before, we had done a leadership activity that emphasizes teamwork at one of our Teen Committee meetings. The task was to work with your teammates and use objects around you to create the longest chain possible. The team with the longest chain wins. In order to make it more enjoyable for the younger kids, Emma and I decided to give it the theme of the ‘Hungry Caterpillar’. Each grade level would have to make their caterpillar the longest.

On the day of the presentation, I was really excited to see how the kids would react (but also a little nervous as to whether or not Emma and I would be authoritative enough). We came in 15 minutes early with paper bags full of common materials. We de-briefed quickly, then waited for the kids to march in.

Once all eyes were fixed to the front of the room, the Steve & Kate’s Camp coordinator introduced us. It reminded me of when I was in elementary school and used to sit on the cold gym floor, watching with anticipation during some sort of presentation, trying to guess the speaker’s intentions. To be on the other side was new to me and extremely exciting.

Emma and I ran through the activity, demonstrated a couple methods, and answered questions. Then, the kids were off to create the longest chain with their only resources being the brown bag and its contents – plus themselves and their imaginations.

Within 20 minutes, I saw all kinds of unique thought processes and ideas being tested by kids from kindergarten to 7th grade. Finally, time was up, and we concluded by explaining that we could make all their ‘caterpillars’ longer if they connected to each other. A loud ‘ohhhh!’ echoed through the room, as the ‘caterpillar’ began transforming into a ‘butterfly’. The overall experience was unlike any other, and I learned a lot about teamwork through it as well.

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