Inch By Inch

Written By: Leo Lionni

Before Reading

Explore Illustrations and Text:

Take a moment to look over the cover and illustrations before you begin reading. Ask about your child’s observations, predictions and prior knowledge with questions like:

What do you notice on the cover?

What do you think will happen in this story?

Why is this worm called an “inch worm”? Have you ever seen one in real life? How does it move around?

{Flip to a certain illustration} What is happening in this picture?

As You Read

To make the story more engaging, treat it as a seek-and-find book by simply asking your child to find the inch worm in each picture. It won’t be long before your little one is pointing out the inch worm on every page without any prompting from you.

Vocabulary Building:

The inch worm is seen in the story measuring the tails of varying types of birds, so you can take this opportunity to name each bird and provide one or two different facts about that type of bird. For example, when the inch worm measures the hummingbird, you can say, “Hummingbirds are one of the smallest birds. Why do you think they are called “hummingbirds”? They are called hummingbirds because their wings flap so fast that they make a humming sound.” Other birds shown in Inch by Inch include:




Making Connections:

The inch worm is confronted with a problem when the nightingale threatens to eat him if he doesn’t measure his song. Ask if your child has found him/herself in a difficult situation by asking, “Can you think of a time when you had a problem that you didn’t know how to fix? What was it? What did you do? What do you think the inchworm will do?”

After Reading

Summarize and Interpret:

Ask questions like these to gauge your child’s understanding of the story, as well as his/her thoughts and comments:

Did you like the story? Why or why not?

How did the inchworm stop the first bird from eating him?

What did the nightingale want the inch worm to measure?

The inchworm’s intelligence and quick thinking saved his life twice in the story, and can show children how to think creatively to solve their problems. Ask your child, “How did the inchworm trick the nightingale? Why was it easy for the inch worm to hide in the grass? Can you think of another way that the inchworm could have escaped the nightingale?”  

Activity: Hide the Inchworm

Adapted from Teach Preschool

Supplies: Tan or white paper, green paper, green paint, plastic forks, scissors, and glue (Optional: other paint colors)

  1. Let your child help the inch worm(s) hide in the grass with this fun, hands-on activity!
  2. Cut out one or more thick, long strips from the green paper to create the body of the inchworm. To incorporate letter recognition into the activity, cut out circles that can be used as the head of the inchworm (also forming the letter I).
  3. Put glue on either end of the inchworm and place it on the page so that the centers stick up, as if it were inching along the page. Then glue the circles slightly apart from one end of each strip.
  4. Add green grass by placing the fork in green paint and pressing it repeatedly on the paper. The more paint your child adds, the harder it will be for any birds to find the worms! Your child may even get a little crazy and cover the whole page with paint like in the image below. If your child feels so inclined, s/he can add flowers and other things in the grass as well.