I saw an idea a few weeks ago to make a Very Hungry Caterpillar painting using kid thumb/fingerprints. (Original Very Hungry Caterpillar Fingerprint Craft post on itmom here.) I thought it was a brilliant kid craft idea, but I knew my son would never go for it.
1) He hates getting his fingers messy
2) He likes clear directions. Free form creative art puts him in a spin.
But he does love the hungry caterpillar book. So I showed him the original post, and showed him my stencil stippling foam brush (that round blue thing up there) that he could use to make the body segments without getting paint on his fingers. He was willing to try it. I asked him to look at the cover of the book for inspiration and tell me which colors we needed. Then we got to work.
He did great! Granted, I had to hold his hand to help him place each dot. And I helped with the feet and antenna because he claimed (screeched) that he didn't know how to do it. But he did mix colors with gusto, so I'm calling it a success!
Your normal, likes-to-get-messy-and-create child will love this craft, whether you do finger prints or brushes. (My daughter would have made a zillion little caterpillars with that brush!) You could read the story, paint the picture, and then have a snack based on the book. Though I wouldn't suggest eating all the things the caterpillar ate, having a few of them followed by a nice green spinach leaf would be fun.
(Oh, and if you don't know the variety of foods the caterpillar ate because you haven't seen the book, run, don't walk to your favorite library or bookstore and read the book. Even if you don't have kids. Promise! Eric Carle is amazing.)