As I looked for good books and activities for the cave theme I was planning, I came across a lot of fun things to do with the book, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen. So, I decided that the last week and a half of the cave theme we’d focus on this book. So we read the book each day (a few days she watched a video of it instead of me reading it to/with her). Sometimes I had her read it to me. One time I acted it out very dramatically. My dramatic “What a beeeeeeaaaauuuutifuuuuuul daaaaaay!” stuck with her, so that’s how she said it from then on. 🙂 Then each day I did at least one activity or she watched one of the videos or she helped me prepare for the Bear Hunt Party we had. It was a lot of fun to plan, and I think the kids really enjoyed it.
I printed pages 7 and 8 of this printable, put them in a plastic sheet protector and gave her a dry erase marker to try and follow the lines (a la this “tot notebook” — which I also put together for her. She loved drawing and then wiping it off with an old rag. It kept her busy and quiet for about 20 minutes at church services!)
She also colored these pages. I was also going to use them on the party invitations (see below), but I ran out of printer ink.
I also printed out this simple version of the book. I ended up altering the directions a bit, and using everything I had: fake grass, cotton balls, leaves for trees, dirt for mud, and glittery blue glue for water. She had a great time. (In my excitement to have her glue everything on, I forgot to have her color the pages first. Next time!)
- We’re Going on a Bear Hunt
This is the picture book animated. It also is read in a bit of a sing song fashion. Beware – it will get stuck in your head. 🙂
- Tha Sinn a’ Dol a Shireadh Mathan by Grounds for Learning
A group of young kids from an elementary school in Glasgow Scotland do the bear hunt in their very cool schoolyard. And it’s all in Gaelic! My daughter loved it. And today at the library, when we saw a small board book version of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, and I’m pretty sure she said her version of “tha sinn a’ dol a shireadh mathan.” 🙂 In addition to this, I also printed out a French version and dusted off my high school French to read it to her. I also printed out a German version, but unfortunately, I don’t really know German. Thankfully, my dad’s fluent, so I had him read it to her. Both were just a good opportunity for her to hear another language.
- Going on a Bear Hunt Song by the Learning Station
This is a great song for children. Like most children’s music, I found it a bit hard to listen to, but of course she liked it.
- We’re Going on a Bear Hunt (24 minute animated video)
Not quite the same as the story, obviously they’ve got to add a bit more to make it longer. The bear is friendly, but may be a little too scary for little ones. They added a story about the kid’s grandpa having died — a little at the beginning and end.
A post from My Little Happies inspired me to have a party. I was going to do this great sensory activity for my daughter, then realized I could invite a few other toddlers to join us. So, we had four little friends come and join my daughter for a little Bear Hunt Party.
Creating the Bear Hunt
I followed the storyline of the book, and set up our little plastic play house right in front of the grass for our adventurers to start at (and later to run back to after they found the bear). But, since they’re all so young, they usually didn’t want to run back, but instead play in the water or mud, which was fine. If teaching kids has taught me anything, it’s not to get too upset when my awesome plan isn’t as appreciated or participated in as I’d hoped. 🙂
Grass: We just happen to have a section of tall (slightly dying) grass-like plant next to a tree, so I just used that. (ferns to walk between would work too…and if you saw the inspiration page, she just used green crepe paper, which works too.)
Forest: We happen to have a bunch of logs we are planning on using for a future natural playscape (you can see some of what I’d love to do on my Pinterest board). Of course, actual trees would be better, but we don’t have many of those in our backyard. 🙂
Snow: We have a tree that has concrete all around it and a chain link fence with a little door. It was there when we bought the house. We have no idea what it was for, but I used it for our snowstorm. I hung white crepe paper on the front bar and from the tree. I put a white blanket over one side of the fence. I was going to put out pinecones I have, but forgot. I was also considering throwing white glitter around, but forgot that too.
Braving the blizzard…
Mud: We moved into our house a year and a half ago. We’ve put most of our time and money into the house itself, so as you can see the yard is still a blank canvas (which is a nice way of saying it’s just dirt). So we just picked a spot and dug a hole for the mud pit.
Water: Filled a small pool with a little water.
Cave: tables with black table cloths draped around all sides.
And of course, in the cave was a bear. A very realistic red bear. 😉
Here is what we did, and also the additional ideas I thought of or saw during my search.
- Mud: berry applesauce mixed with unsweetened applesauce
[alternates: chocolate pudding/hummus]
- Snow: whipped coconut cream (just in case there were dairy sensitivities)
[alternates: cottage cheese/yogurt/whipped cream/small marshmallows]
- Forest: pretzel sticks
- Grass: sliced cucumbers (the mom bringing these had the great idea of putting them in peanut butter, like they were grass. It was really cute and the peanut butter didn’t end up on the cucumber when they were pulled out.)
[Alternates: green bell peppers/lettuce]
- Cave and bear: cupcake with a Teddy Graham cookie inside.
Everything came out really fantastic. And the kids loved it!
Each area was labeled with the name and the sounds to make. I originally did this for myself so I’d remember the sounds for each one. Little did I know that by the time the party came, I would have pretty much memorized the entire book. 🙂 I also did it as a way to have words up for our little ones since seeing words is good for kids, even those who can’t read yet.
I printed up these paw prints, laminated them and put them throughout the backyard. My inspiration site had put them up as a little trail, but I actually printed and hid them around the yard, just in case they got bored on their own and needed a little structure game. They didn’t get bored, but they ended up seeing them and saying they were like little clues along the way, so that was cute. And later, when the big kids came for just hanging out, they went and found all of them and then one of them hid them all again.
I emailed the moms about three weeks in advance so they could get the book in time. But, we also made invitations. My daughter colored them and handed them out. From what I hear, they were a big hit. Here’s what we wrote inside:
As you can see, I asked the kids to bring a backpack and bring along a flashlight for the cave and anything else they thought was important. My daughter put some water, a scarf (for the snow), and a flashlight in her very first backpack. She loved it…until she didn’t and wanted me to carry it for her. 🙂
I also made binoculars out of toilet paper rolls. There were tons of instructions for those online — everyone did them a little differently. I spent maybe 10 minutes wrapping (badly I might add) blue painters tape around two rolls, punching holes on each side and tying some string to them. The kids really enjoyed them despite the poor construction. Even the big kids were using them. (You can see them in action in the picture at the top of the page.) And just in case they needed more for their backpacks, I put together a basket that was the first thing they saw. I didn’t think of it, but I could’ve added sunglasses as well.
I printed out this simple version of the book that my daughter had done. Then I made a sandwich bag for each item: fake grass, cotton balls, leaves, sand/dirt, etc. When I realized that I couldn’t put our blue glue along for the river, I cut up blue tissue paper and added that to the bags instead.
At the beginning of our cave unit, I’d bought a little bag of teddy bears that someone was selling on craigslist. We used these for building caves around and playing with. But, I really wasn’t interested in having more stuffed animals in the house, so into the goodie bags they went. I also decided to include a little baggie of Teddy Grahams and gummy bears.
Finally, I had my daughter color the paper bags — I thought of bear stickers a little too late, but that would’ve been cute too.
Here’s what they looked like:
Lesson Learned: Good call on having the big kids come later (since they pretty much destroyed everything by the time they were done). 🙂 But since they first enjoyed everything, next time I might need to include the big kids in the party. Maybe they’ll be invited an hour after the toddlers. 🙂
Here’s everything I did to prepare for the party in case you want to not plan and just want it all in a list ready to cut and paste. 🙂
Most things I already had (I’ve been accumulating arts and crafts, sensory items, and toilet paper rolls since she was a baby 🙂 ). And because I asked the other moms to bring one of the food items, I only ended up buying about six things on the list below, so the party ended up costing somewhere around $20.
To send out before the party:
- construction paper for invitations
For the party:
- white crepe paper
- toilet paper rolls (2 per child)
- white balloons
- print out of the paw prints (laminate them — or put them between two pieces of contact paper)
- a piece of white, yellow, green, brown, blue and red construction paper for signs
- string and single hole punch
- food (see below — I asked each mom to bring one item, so I didn’t have to provide it all)
- logs (or not, if you have a couple trees to walk through)
- mud (I saw some people just use bins of mud to walk through)
- a small pool
- a spot with grass or fake grass if you’re backyard is like mine
- a make shift cave
- plates, spoons, cups, stickers for identifying cups (since none of them knew their names)
For the goodie bags:
- small bear (one per child)
- gummy bears
- Teddy Grahams
- print out of these (one for each child–I had 2 and 3 year olds, so I cut out the cave part and put it in a baggie as well, but older kids could do that on their own.)
- brown lunch bags
- sandwich bags
- fake grass (like from spring baskets — only about five small individual pieces per child)
- cotton balls (one torn into three bits)
- dirt (very small handful)
- leaves (three small or cut up leaves per child)
- blue tissue paper (four to five little squares per child)
Here’s the info I sent the moms about two to three weeks beforehand:
Timing: Get here from [time] onwards. I figure the easiest thing to do is just go on the hunt with your own child once, so they see what to do, then they can do it again or just play afterwards.
Book to read: We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen. (any version would probably work though). It’s super repetitive so if you read it a few times, they’ll probably have it memorized.
I thought we could also do a snack that works for the theme, so if you could pick one thing to bring, and let me know. Bring enough for six kids and a little extra just in case we all want to dig in too:
cucumber sticks (grass)
pretzel sticks (woods)
whipped [coconut if you prefer] cream (snow)
Here’s a video that reads the book for you 🙂 http://www.youtube.com/
(I initially was going to make the cupcakes, but checked with one of the other moms, bc I knew she likes to bake with her kids. So, that’s why it’s not on the list…and I didn’t want to have to explain it. 🙂 )
For more ideas/activities, check out my Pinterest page: Going on a Bear Hunt Book Theme
Part of a series of themes and units for Tot School. You can find the whole list here.