Thursday, February 20, 2014

We're Going on a Bear Hunt: Inspiring Reading and Play

We added Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury's We're Going on a Bear Hunt to our son's library a little early (at around 13 months), but I am glad that we did because it has been one of B's most-requested books ever since!  This book is a fun way to share the classic chant, "We're Going on a Beat Hunt."  I remember doing that chant back in nursery school (and I have done it with my own classes), but my husband had not heard of it before!  Have you?  The repetitive chant, rich with onomatopoeia, follows a family on a journey to find a bear.  (My husband thinks the parents in this book must be the worst parents in the world...they take their baby through a river and a snow storm and more to find a bear!)  Again and again, they chant, "we're not scared."  But wait until you see what happens when they finally find the bear!  Helen Oxenbury's illustrations are as warm and cozy as always and remove any edge of scariness in this book.

We have the gift set shown above, which would be a sweet gift for a toddler or younger preschool aged child.  I like to hide the bear and then pull it out once we get to the page with the bear!  This is a great book to share with children of multiple ages, and both the small board book edition and the larger hardcover have their merits.

Who Loves It:
Children ages 1 to 5 and their caregivers will enjoy sharing this together.

Why We Love It:

  • Repetitive chant invites young children to chime in
  • Onomatopoeia encourages children to build phonemic awareness
  • Strong rhythm makes it a fun read for all ages
  • Strong use of positional vocabulary (over, under, through, up, down) helps to teach important early math concepts
Suggested Activities:
  • Younger toddlers will enjoy finding their own eyes, ears, and nose once the bear is found
  • Hide a teddy bear while you are reading, and take it out when the bear is found in the cave.  Chase around your little one and tickle!
  • Invite older toddlers and preschool aged children to chime in as you read.
  • Preschool aged children might enjoy acting this one out.  Try adding "bear hunt" props, such as a backpack, binoculars, or a safari hat.  Create a cave with blankets and furniture.
  • Create sensory bins that represent the various parts of the family's journey: water for the river, cotton balls for snow, Easter grass for the long, swishy grass.

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