Where do I start? I LOVE this book. This version of the story has been around since 1989, so it’s not surprising that you can find activities galore online, (like these freebie printables from a site I discovered when I was teaching in the UK – there are TONS of other printables here – you’re welcome ♥) preprepared kits and inspiration by your little ones after having read it through. The options and extensions for learning are incredible with this seemingly simple story. This is a book that we used frequently at Profound Play and Learning to bring the group together or to shake our sillies out. It was a favourite by all of us and one that led us to so many activities that were easy to create on a whim when the children were interested and with little planning needing to be done ahead of time.
This is the perfect time of year to bring Bear Hunt out. Spring is just around the corner (although already here on the calendar) so outdoor adventures become new again as the cold air starts to taper off. Just as our little loves are keen to get out and play in the spring air, it’s the perfect opportunity to talk about hibernation and the star of this story, the bear! We pair hibernation lessons with Sleep, Bear! by National Geographic Kids, which follows a bear cub and its family as they prepare to hibernate for the winter. Through simple and engaging text features, kids will be introduced to vocabulary in concept, helping them make connections between words and expanding their understanding of the world. I’ve listed more great hibernation and bear stories below that are wonderful resources for supporting and enriching this theme.
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt is a great story to get everyone up and moving. There are songs that provide a variation on the story (see link for free playlist including Bear Hunt songs here) that are fun to act out. Taking this story outside allows for littles to take the journey to the dramatic as they act out parts of the tale, or come up with their own hunt to find themselves on. We’ve taken the language from the story, and the descriptions of surroundings into the terrains we find outside to build on vocabulary and those muscles through gross motor development as we climb and jump and run through our own drama!
If weather doesn’t allow you to get outside to act out the story, or you wanted something more visual and auditory for your little learner, the author of this story, Michael Rosen, did a reading which you can watch below! ↓
Explore the Outdoors with Early Literacy:
In such a short story, you will find concepts that encourage literacy skills, such as descriptive words, repeating language, using your senses to make sense of your environment, sequence and order – it’s brilliant! With this as my guide, I took my daughter on an I Spy walk around her grandparent’s yard. Using the forest floor as our game board, we used descriptive language to say what we saw on our walk. Emergent readers start their comprehension using symbols and oral language through play and create meaning with it. An activity as simple and silly as coming up with funny, repeating words to describe what we saw in the woods are those first steps toward my daughter reading stories on her own.
For some inspiration on things to do outside, check out the free outdoor scavenger hunt printable found here.
Building on a walk or hike through even your own yard can turn into a sensory experience as you investigate what you find around you. Leaves, snow, grass, mud, rocks, sticks are all loose parts which are discussed here, and invite small world play when you add familiar toys. Collecting the odds and ends you find along the way to create a sensory bin to take indoors for extended play is a great way to have your little scientist learning about the world around them while increasing language and manipulating materials in new ways.
Here, we filled a bowl with snow during our outdoor play, which we then took inside to watch and see what happened. We made predictions (which I wrote down as F spoke to show the connection to literacy) and investigated our now cold water. The learning continued as we added our dirty water to our outdoor sensory bin. Real life science through play! My favourite ♥
For Our Youngest Readers:
Karma Wilson thought of everything. Introduction to bears, spring, and hibernation isn’t only for toddlers and preschoolers. In these two favourites of ours, the early concepts of colour, and counting to five are all around the forest friends of this incredible series of books. ♥
Emotions and Feelings:
My daughter was nervous when I first discussed this book, hesitant of the bear chasing the family at the end of their adventure as they scramble to find their way back home. But it was a great opportunity to talk about fears, respecting animals, dark caves, and so many other things. This concept on it’s own turned into a big theme in our daycare for quite a while and was a wonderful way to safely express those things that made us feel a little apprehensive.
More Books about Bears and Hibernation!
What started as a circle time story quickly grew into a world or learning about bears, and quite a collection of bear books for our little (or not so little) library. We use books as the key to most everything we do and the jumping off, and connection points to so many of our activities. Here are a few we loved when we talked about a sleepy bear waking up at this time of year to fill his now empty belly!
This has long been a favourite in our house. My daughter received this book when she was born and we have since come to buy as many Karma Wilson books as we could get our hands on! In Bear Snores On, a whole host of animals and birds find their way out of the cold and into Bear’s cave to warm up. But even after the tea has been brewed and the corn has been popped, Bear just snores on! This provides great conversation about how deeply a bear can sleep during hibernation, but what happens in this story when this bear wakes up to find his home filled with all his friends!
The Animals’ Winter Sleep nonfiction into the realm of bedtime read-to-me stories, this rich, melodic text paired with detailed color pencil illustrations describes how 13 North American animal species—such as black bear, ermine, pileated woodpecker, porcupine, river otter, and ruffed grouse—survive harsh winter snows snug inside their dens, nests, burrows, and lodges. Additional information, geared to very young children, includes animal winter survival adaptations, such as the foods they eat, nesting materials, camouflage, and predator survival along with a series of questions that encourage children to look back at the illustrations for clues. A line art diagram of the final panorama illustration that identifies the location of all 13 animal species is also included. This is an incredible resource!
Everybody at the station! It’s time for winter hibernation in Michelle Meadows story where the rhyming text of this book have children dreaming about what it’s like to hibernate. Young readers will be soothed and delighted as this story introduces them to different types of hibernating animals. The creatures on the train are preparing to snuggle into sleep, although with a passenger list that includes chipmunks, bears, snakes, hedgehogs, groundhogs, frogs, turtles, mice, bats, and more, there’s lot of noise! Will the tired critters ever get to sleep? Take a trip to Hibernation Station to find out!
Kate Messner describes how over the snow, the world is hushed and white, while under the snow lies a secret world of squirrels and snow hares, bears and bullfrogs, and many other animals making their winter home under the snow. This nonfiction picture book exploring the subnivean zone reveals the tunnels and caves formed beneath the snow but over the ground, where many kinds of animals live through the winter, safe and warm, awake and busy, but hidden beneath the snow.
This is an introduction to hibernation while remaining developmentally appropriate for younger readers. Margaret Hall’s story goes beyond bears and uses real world photos to build on learning, and explains how and why some animals prepare for and experience hibernation each year
In Forest Bright, Forest Night, someone is always awake –and someone else is always asleep! Some animals are alert in daytime and sleep at night. Others are alert at night, and are sleepyheads during the day. Plus be sure to count the animals. This book is a very pleasant way to combine science and literature, and is a fun flip around book that your littles will love.
In Jane Yolen’s book, winter’s snow creates a soft blanket of silence, nothing is more comforting than curling up under a cozy quilt. Whether slumber awaits in a warm bed, a rocking hammock, or a nest of leaves, the feeling of comfort and the infinite world of dreams are universal.This reassuring lullaby and gentle illustrations show that the little details truly make a place into a home.
In The Bear’s Winter House, Bear wants to be able to sleep instead of staying awake, shivering, as usual. So he sets about building a winter house. The other animals laugh at him, but when winter comes, bear is cozy while the other animals are in the cold. Being a kind bear, he invites them in to share his house. Unfortunately, they are so excited it seems he’ll get no rest at all this winter! But when spring arrives, he finds a solution.
In Frank Asch’s book, Winter is coming and Mama Bear has found the perfect spot for hibernating. But Baby Bear doesn’t want to go to sleep. First he wants a snack. Then he wants a drink. And now he wants the moon! What is loving, but very sleepy, Mama Bear to do? (This story line sounds very familiar to my house…)
In Jennifer Ward’s book, there are spectacular illustrations rendered in oil paint, and a rhyming text that describes a tree’s activities from its roots to its branches, introduce young readers to the amazing activities that go on in a tree. Acorns nibbled by chipmunks, ants scurrying across a trunk, a spider spinning a web, and so much more. Although not directed bear and hibernation related, this is a beautiful story that opens up the world of the forest.
Do you have any other great resources you have seen for hibernation activities or animal activities in spring?! Let me know what you do to keep your littles excited and engaged at this time of year by commenting below or reaching out to me directly ♥