Can you bear it? Bear Storytime

Standard

The idea of bears is everywhere: Smokey the Bear, Yogi Bear, the Chicago Bears, and most people have a Teddy Bear connection from their youth (whether a beloved toy or the bitterness of being deprived of having one) but how many of us have seen a bear in the wild? Bears in zoos, yes. Bear in your backyard – much less frequent. I did cross paths (a very very wide path) with a bear at Old Faithful Lodge when I worked in Yellowstone in the late 80s and I was quick enough to get my camera out but he ended up being a speck in the landscape in my photo.

I certainly don’t want to come face to face with a real bear but I have a special place in my storytime heart for Bear Storytime. It was the first formal topic I presented and performed. It is a wonderful time to have kids bring their bears (or other special friends) to visit storytime and as long as they are the stuffed kind – we can all play together.

Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear
Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair.
Fuzzy Wuzzy wasn’t very fuzzy, was he?

Books:

It’s the Bear (Alborough)
Where’s My Teddy? (Alborough)
My Friend Bear (Alborough)

   

This is such a great set of stories. All three feature Eddie, his teddy, an enormous bear, and his enormous teddy. The stories progress through Eddie and the Bear meeting by accident and scaring the bejeebers out of each other, Eddie and the Bear having a near miss of each other at a picnic, and Eddie and the Bear finally really connecting. My favorite is It’s the Bear (the second in the series) because the humor and slapstick are unbeatable but they are all charming. I read this to Preschoolers for the funny stuff and use the title for programs on Bears, Friends, Rhyming, and Favorites. The text is rhyming and the pictures are cute but your delivery will really sell these stories. Go for it!

The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and THE BIG HUNGRY BEAR (Wood)

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Whenever I introduce this book, my voice always gets louder when I say, “THE BIG HUNGRY BEAR” because it is in caps on the cover. I tell the kids that I have to say it that way BECAUSE it is in all capitals. It’s the rule. I think they might believe me. I might just believe me.

This story is slight on text but it is all important as you warn the precious mouse about THE BIG HUNGRY BEAR (ok, I’ll stop), and dissuade him from attempting to hide the strawberry.  That bear will find it no matter where it is hidden, who is guarding it, or – my favorite – how it is disguised. The pictures are rich and entertaining – very Don Wood – and this book comes across really well in big book form, if you have it. I use this title for Mice, Bears, and Food.

As a fun addition, although you never actually see the bear in this story – the kids will probably tell you otherwise.

Old Bear (Henkes)

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While he is hibernating, Old Bear dreams of being a cub again and exploring the world during Spring, Summer, and Fall. He dreams of giant flowers, a daisy sun, blueberry rainstorms, and butterfly leaves. When he wakes up, he discovers that Spring has come for real. Less of a story and more of a piece of art – this is a lovely esoteric offering for an attentive audience. This title is good for Bears, Seasons, and Colors.

Bear Has a Story to Tell (Stead)

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Before settling down to hibernate, Bear wants to tell a story to his friends. Sadly, they are all busy with their winter prep to be able to listen. After the seasons turn and his hibernation ends, Bear tries to start his story again, but has forgotten it. His friends try to jog his memory and the story ends with Bear sitting on the log, beginning his story once more. A gentle circular story good for the Preschool crowd who can appreciate the changing season and Bear’s acts of kindness toward his smaller friends. This title is good for Bears, Friends, Animals, and Stories.

Bear Snores On (Wilson)

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A modern classic! While the wind blusters about outside and smaller animals creep into the cave, Bear Snores On. The story builds quickly as each animal adds more snacks to an impromptu picnic with Bear sleeping nearby but crescendos as a pepper seed gets caught in his snore and the bear. wakes. up! At first he seems angry, he stomps and snarls but then his grousing turns into blubbering and he complains that he wasn’t in on the fun. His friends are quick to remedy that by making more snacks and brewing more tea. It is a party to beat all. But as the storm dies down and the sun comes up, Bear finds himself, once again, in a surprising situation.

The cadence of this book is spot on and the pictures are warm and cozy despite the howling winds just outside the cave. I read this to Toddlers and Preschoolers for Bears, Animals, Winter, and Food. There are several more in the series: Bear’s New Friend, Bear Feels Scared, Bear Says Thanks…they go on. 🙂

The Bear Who Shared (Rayner)

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Norris, Tulip and Violet are all waiting for the last plorringe to fall from the tree. The raccoon and the mouse impatiently inspect that fruit by sniffing, listening to, and hugging it but when at last it falls, Norris the bear catches it. Because he is a wise bear, he shares it with Violet and Tulip and they all become friends.

A lovely story with beautiful watercolor illustrations that bring a sweetness to the characters. The kids will ask if plorringes really exist – and I almost believe that they do. Use this with Preschoolers for Bears, Food, Friends, and the Senses.

The interstitials (the space fillers):

Fingerplays

Teddies in the Bed

There were 5 in the bed and the little one said, “I’m crowded, roll over.” (show 5 fingers, nudge elbows to each side)
So they all rolled over and 1 fell out.  (roll hands, show 1 finger)

There were 4 in the bed…
3,2
There was 1 in the bed and the little one said, “I’m lonely.” (make sad face) So they all climbed back into bed! 

(update: 2/8/15) You can also do this as a flannel. Knocking the bears onto the floor always elicits giggles.

Teddys in the bed   teddys out of bed

Flannel Play

Hide and Seek: Bear and the chair

Little Bear, Little Bear
Are you behind the _____ chair?

I have the kids cover their eyes and count to 7 with me. Some of them will cheat and you can gently remind them to cover up. While they are counting, move the bear around the flannel board, in and out of behind chairs. I always have my hand at the end of touching one of the chairs (not the correct one) as they are finishing counting and opening their eyes. Invariably, they all think the bear is behind that one.

We go through the motions of guessing the chairs – I never start with the right one. Sometimes I have them raise their hands to vote on which chair it is – gently chiding them if they vote more than once.

We go through all of this at least 3 times. The second time, I usually hide him in the same place as the first. They definitely don’t think I would pick the same place twice – to which I usually respond, “Have you NOT met me? Don’t you know I’m sneaky?”

This game can be a laugh riot with Preschoolers. To use it with Toddlers, I would have much less banter and also let part of the bear be seen from behind the chair.

Other variations include Duck/Truck, Snake/Rake, Mouse/House, Snail/Pail, and Frog/Log.

bear and chair

Songs

The Bear Went Over the Mountain

The bear went over the mountain(x3)
to see what he could see (x3)
The bear went over the mountain (x3)
to see what he could see

and what did he see?
The other side of the mountain (x3)
was all that he could see!

I slap my thighs alternately while singing this song. Then I stop and ask the kids, “and what did he see?” I start slapping again to finish up the song.

Put Your Teddy Bear….
(tune: If You’re Happy and You Know It)

Put your teddy bear on your head, on your head (x2)
Swing your bear around and jump up and down
Put your teddy bear on your head, on your head

Put your teddy bear on your tummy, on your tummy (x2)
Swing your bear around and jump up and down
Put your teddy bear on your tummy, on your tummy

on your knee…
on your toe…
on your bum…

We stand up to do this song and dance and the kids usually think the tummy is the funniest…UNTIL we do the bum. Then it turns into a giggle-fest. And of course, have everyone dance with the teddies (or other friends) they brought along.

Craft

Teddy Bear Ears

I cut headbands for the kids – usually out of old book covers. But eventually, we will run out of those, so you can use long strips of construction paper. Prepare circles in brown, black, and white. Cut them in half (to look like bear ears!) and then each kid gets a headband and two ears. I let them color them and glue them on to the headbands – which can be colored, too!

Have the caregivers fit the headbands to the kids’ heads and staple or tape them. Be sure to staple them so the prongs are facing out. Save those precious skulls from scrapes.

Making any sort of costume or mask really promotes creative play with the kiddos. Have them growl and lumber around the room. Have them pretend to reach into a tree for honey or strip some bamboo to eat.

Jennwa had a nice picture of how these usually turn out.

These are the bits of fabulous that I picked for the theme this time

Toddler lineup:

Poem
Bear Snores On (Wilson)
stretch
ABCs song
The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and THE BIG HUNGRY BEAR (Wood)
The Bear Went Over the Mountain
Teddies in the Bed
Ran Sam Sam
Mascot visit
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear

Preschool lineup:

Poem
The Bear Who Shared (Rayner)
stretch
ABCs
Teddies in the Bed
It’s the Bear (Alborough)
Hide and Seek: Bear and the chair
Bear Snores On (Wilson)
Put Your Teddy Bear….
The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and THE BIG HUNGRY BEAR (Wood)
Ran Sam Sam
Mascot visit
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear

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