Minarik’s Little Bear stories contain many varied topics or themes under child development. I have decided to group some of her stories under specific themes or topics. The categories that I will be utilizing for the Little Bear stories are: Adventure, Family, and Relationships.
Week One -- Day One and Twoo
Every child’s eyes light up when one mentions “bears.” Today’s toy stores are filled with bears that come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and colors. Most children’s lives would not be devoid of a stuffed bear. Mention a “Bear Party” where children are allowed to bring a stuffed bear to their classroom for a day -- hands immediately go up, and the children want to tell about their prized collections. Before we begin our adventures with Little Bear, we will glean some knowledge about the real world of bears..
In her book,
Nature’s Children: Black Bears
(5) Greenland reminds us that although bears, cubs in particular, look as though they belong in a toyshop waiting to be purchased, loved, and hugged, mother bear may be lurking nearby and one should be extremely careful. A mother bear will go to great lengths to protect her cubs even if that means physically harming an innocent observer.
Greenland goes on to tell us that Black Bears are found mainly in North America and Canada with a distant cousin living in the mountains and forests of Asia. Some bears hibernate as long as six months depending how cold it is, and how readily they can depend upon their food source. Cubs are generally born in January or February while the mother is sleeping. What a grand surprise to awake and find out that a new family has arrived! (Greenland,
Nature’s Children: Black Bears
, page 33)
The children will have a fun time along with Happy Friday guessing which bear is the largest. Happy Friday will eventually pull out Greenland’s book
Nature’s Children: Polar Bears
and show the beautiful pictures containing photos of polar bears in their natural surroundings. Unlike its distant relative the black bear, polar bears cannot survive in a warm climate. Greenland describes an undercoat of hair next to the bear’s skin that helps to trap the body temperature, and keep the bear warm. (Greenland,
Nature’s Children: Polar Bears,
page 12) Panda bears are only found in the mountains of western China. There they consume large amounts of bamboo, find a safe place to build a nest, and give birth to their young in the spring.
Happy Friday reminds the children that a bear party is planned for the following day. On this particular day the children are allowed to bring a favorite bear of their own or a borrowed one from a friend or relative. During our party, the children will participate in math games were they sort gummy bears into sets of various colors, put them onto a graph, and then analyze and describe their graphs. Which set has the least/most/same? How can you tell?
Happy Friday prepares the children for the Little Bear stories that are about to begin. He shows them one of the books and asks them if they think we will be reading fiction or non-fiction stories. We will also discuss the characteristics that we learned about real bears and compare them to the bears in our stories. Are there any characteristics that could be true? Why or why not? Do you like the idea that bears will be talking in the stories? Why or why not? As we read the stories, think of another animal that the author could have used instead of bears. Also, think about why the author decided to use bears instead of another character.
Happy Friday tells the children that they are encouraged to make puppet characters at the art center. Groups of four children work at the art center. They will decide what character they want to make from the story. As a group they will act out the story with their puppet creations.
Week One -- Day Threee
A friend of Happy Friday, Willie, will take us on an adventure with
Little Bear and the Missing Pie.
The children discover that Hen and Father Bear are enjoying the pie that was thought to be missing by Little Bear and his friends. However, while trying to find the pie, the characters come across some clues -- a feather that belongs to Duck who just happens to be eating raspberries in the raspberry patch, a missing shoe that belongs to Emily, and eventually Hen’s tracks that lead them to the missing pie. After reading the story, Willie will ask the children if the mystery in the story was scary or not. Why or why not? Could you think of a mystery story that could be scary? What is a clue? How were clues used in the story? Did Duck eat all of the raspberries or did someone else pick raspberries too? When Little Bear said that there are a lot of raspberries gone from the patch, did he mean that Duck had eaten all of them? Or was this perhaps another clue? At the writing center, the children will be asked to write and illustrate their own story. They will be asked to write about something missing and give clues for finding it..
We will use a wheel-like graphic organizer with spokes and write all of the clues from the story. Can we include Emily’s missing shoe as a clue? Why or why not?
After ascertaining that the pie in the story was raspberry, the children will be asked to tell about their favorite pie. The pies will be graphed unto a chart so that the children can tell which flavored pie got the least/most/same votes.
Week One -- Day Fourr
Tuesday’s Cup of Sugar -- who is big on pretending -- will assist in introducing our next set of stories found in the book k
Father Bear Comes Home.
She will be a good assistant for this role -- after all, she is a monkey dressed in doll clothes who just happens to relish getting into trouble and then asking the children for their forgiveness and help..
The story centers upon imagination, and how much fun it can be when friends and family become part of the make-believe adventure. Father Bear is out fishing -- way out on the ocean. Mother Bear needs a fish before Father Bear can bring one home, so Little Bear is asked to bring home a fish. However, after catching a little fish, Little Bear pretends along with his friends that he is catching a large octopus and a whale. Little Bear is convinced that Father Bear will bring something exciting home. He tells his friends that Father Bear will bring home a mermaid. Father Bear did not bring home a mermaid, but on a picnic Mother and Father Bear encourage Little Bear’s imagination by telling him to invite the mermaid to their picnic if he happens to see one..
Tuesday’s Cup of Sugar will invite children to discuss fishing trips with their family members. They will be asked to bring stories to class about fishing excursions. Where did they go fishing? What kind of fish were they fishing for? Were they fishing from a boat, a pier, or a bank? What is the difference between a boat, pier, or a bank? Some children do not know the meaning of a bank. Tuesday will describe a bank -- that is the side of a stream, river, or lake. He will also ask them for another meaning to the word, “bank.”
Tuesday will ask the children about the mermaid in the story. Is Little Bear disappointed that Father Bear did not bring home a mermaid? Why or why not? He told his friends that Father Bear would bring one home. Is he embarrassed in front of his friends when Father Bear did not produce one? How did Mother Bear and Father Bear help Little Bear to overcome his embarrassment? Do your parents help pretend with you? How?
The children will be asked to write and illustrate a story about a make-believe fishing trip. How could you use your imagination and hook something on your fishing line that would be really big? What would you do with it?
Week One (Day Five)
One could surmise that Alphabet Thursday is a distant relative of Little Bear except for the fact that perhaps his head is not as round and his fur is bright red. His voice certainly would pass for a bear with his deep guttural sounds. So he will be perfect for introducing our story,
Father’s Flying Flapjacks.
He will ask the children for a prediction. What are flapjacks? Why are they called flying flapjacks? Do you think Little Bear helped Father Bear make the flapjacks? What clues from the cover illustration do you see that would help you answer the question? Have you ever made pancakes? How did you make them?
After Alphabet Thursday reads the story, he will lead the class in a discussion. How did Father Bear and Little Bear make the pancakes? How are they trying to surprise Mother Bear? Where do you think she is while they are making the surprise? How do you think she feels when she sees the mess on the floor? Does it look like she is angry when the family sits down to eat the breakfast? Why or why not? Who do you think cleans up the mess?
The children will be asked to think about a time when they surprised their mother. What happened? Ask your family if they ever made a surprise and what happened. Ask your parents to help you write the story and bring it to class.
At the writing center, the children will be asked to choose a food item that they would like to prepare from a recipe and describe the steps showing how you would make it.
As a follow-up activity, the children will be encouraged to bring food from home that they have helped to prepare from a recipe. They will share the food and the receipt with their classmates at a special Recipe Day.
Week Two -- Day Onee
By now it will be Monday in our unit about Little Bear stories. Blue Monday would be mighty disappointed if he were not invited to join in the fun of introducing the stories. Before he helps to read the story, he will ask the children what special day they think it will be in the story
Father Bear’s Special Day.
What do you think fishing might have to do with the story? Fishing seems to be a recurring theme in our Little Bear stories. Why do you think the author includes fishing in many of the stories? Does it have anything to do with bears? Why or why not? If you were writing non-fiction stories about bears, what would you include in your stories?
Father Bear and Little Bear are going fishing on Father’s Day. What would you have done if you were Little Bear and your friends wanted to tag along -- especially when you were planning a special time with your father? How did Little Bear feel when he had forgotten to bring the worms and Duck is able to dig for them so quickly? Did he feel any better when Emily helps him put the worms on the hook? Why not? The children will be asked to think about a time when they felt like Little Bear and write a story. The class will brainstorm and come up with various words that show feelings to use in their stories. In the story, Little Bear is able to get that special time with Father Bear. He also expresses the fact that he doesn’t feel very competent in comparison to his friends. Father Bear reassures him that he is a wonderful bear and having him for a son is a great Father’s Day present. Then he gives Little Bear a hug and a kiss. The children will be asked to write a conclusion to their story telling how someone helped to take away their sad or disappointed feelings..
A special Father’s Day will be planned for a future date. Fathers will be asked to come into the classroom and speak to the class. They will be asked to reflect upon a time when they were small and what effects family members had upon them in helping to mold their future.
Week Two -- Day Twoo
Grandparents can play a very special role in the lives of children. We will begin this special day by calling it “Grandparents’ Tea.” In advance, we will invite grandparents to our class. Perhaps they would like to bring a special treat for our class. Grandparents have a lot of special stories to tell from their childhood days. We will invite them to tell stories and bring any memorabilia that they may have to show our class. If our grandparents cannot come, we will be happy if our mothers want to come and participate in place of grandparents.
Now we are ready to read our story,
To Grandmother’s House,
with Wednesday Delight. Little Bear wants to take a gift to his grandparent’s house. His mother helps him to fill his wagon with special treats -- soup, cookies, and a jar of jam. Little Bear adds some sweet smelling pine boughs. On his way he meets Duck, Cat, and Hen. He shares his special gifts with his friends, and then discovers that he does not have a gift for his grandparents. However, something else is in his wagon. His grandparents are so happy to see him, and are delighted with the sweet-smelling pine boughs..
Wednesday Delight will ask the children if this story reminds them of another make-believe story -- perhaps a fairy tale. How is the story different? How is the story the same??
Week Two -- Day Threee
Maurice Sendak illustrates the book,
He uses a combination of black and white colors along with various shades of brown and blue for his illustrations. Although warm and nurturing, he gives more life-like characteristics to his characters. The expressions appear more stern, the eyes more compelling. We will discuss and compare the illustrations with some of the other books. The children will express their likes and dislikes, giving their reasons for choosing one over the other. Sendak uses both small and large pictures to depict scenes. Sometimes, he places various characters and things from the story around the written words. For example, in the story “Little Bear Goes to the Moon,” there is a page where Little Bear is shown with a box on his head in a flying position at the top of the page, in a jumping position on both sides of the page, and a walking position at the bottom of the page. In our story for today, “Birthday Soup,” he uses the vegetables from the soup to blend in with the border on the page. He uses a border on every page giving the book a feeling that it happened a very long time ago. In other words, one feels as if they are reading a classic. Perhaps we are!
Willie will assist in reading the story, “Birthday Soup,” from our book,
Just mention the word “birthday,” and every child shares their birthday date, trying to tell you about a special birthday that they have experienced. Or the children may remember that a sister, brother, uncle, aunt, mother, or father -- any family member’s birthday will soon be celebrated. After Willie reads the story, he will ask the children how their birthday dinner would be different if they had a hen, duck, or cat at their party. What foods do suppose you would serve? How would you serve them? Little Bear invited his friends for his birthday. Mother Bear was not around. He thought she had forgotten his birthday. So he makes vegetable soup for his friends. Then Mother Bear arrives with a birthday cake. Do you think it was a good idea for Little Bear to prepare the birthday soup without his mother’s assistance? Why or why not? Why do you suppose Little Bear did not know where Mother Bear had gone? Do you think she had gone far? Why??
In Ann McGovern’s book,
some of the same ingredients are used to make a soup. The story will be read in class. The children will discuss and compare both stories. How are they alike? How are they different? We will use a diagram called a venn diagram to compare and contrast the two stories. We will place two large overlapping circles on chart paper. One circle will represent
and the other circle will represent “Birthday Soup.” If a description is different we will place it under the perspective title. If it is the same we will place it in the overlapping part of the circle.
The children will write a story about a special birthday memory. They will illustrate their story using the same colors that Maurice Sendak used in his illustrations. They will also add a border around their story like the one Sendak used in the
Week Two, Day Four
Willie will help to introduce today’s story,
Little Bear’s Visit.
We will notice that Sendak uses green instead of the blue in his black, white and brown illustrations. After hearing the story, the children will decide which color they like best -- green or blue. We will discuss if the green or blue gives us a different feeling after reading the two stories. For example, in the book
the first story talks about winter. The illustrations show snow. Does blue give one a colder feeling than green? In today’s book most of the story takes place outside in a garden. How does green help us to think about a garden in the summer time? Perhaps you have other suggestions why Sendak chose those colors. Tell us about your ideas.
In the story, Little Bear’s grandparents tell him stories. Grandma tells a story about when Little Bear’s mother was small. She finds a baby robin that is too little to fly and cannot find its nest. Mother Bear takes the baby robin inside her house. She nourishes it until it can fly about the house. One day, however, the little robin is sad. It cannot sing. It cannot fly. It said that its heart is sad. Mother Bear realizes that the robin must be set free. Before the robin flies away it tells Mother Bear that it loves her and that it will return every year.
Willie will lead the children in a discussion about birds migrating from colder regions to warmer climates. Why do some birds fly to warmer climates in the winter? He will ask the children to suggest a title for a story that tells about a mother bird and her babies making preparations to fly to a warmer climate for the winter. Then the class will write a story. What do you think will happen in the story? Where do you think the story will take place? What illustrations do you think we should use in the story? The class will draw the various pictures for the story.
Willie tells the children that bears do not migrate to warmer climates for the winter but they do something else. He pulls out a sleeping bag, and pajamas from his box. Do you think that bears use these during the winter months? Why do we use them? Willie asks the children if they remember what we learned about bears hibernating during the winter. He leads the children in a review discussion about hibernation. Our Breakthrough to Literacy program has a lovely book called
Time for Bed, Little Bear.
It is an endearing story about a mother bear and her little cub preparing for the winter months. After reading the story, Willie tells the children that Mother Bear wants her cub to go into the cave before winter sets in. However, Little Bear wants to wait for winter. Why do you think that Mother Bear thinks going into the cave is important? Why does Little Bear want to stay up longer and wait for winter? Do you like to stay up late? Why?
Week Two, Day Five
Happy Friday will ask the children to make a prediction thinking about the title,
Mother Bear’s Picnic,
and by looking at the cover picture. Why do you suppose the title says that it is Mother Bear’s picnic? Why wouldn’t it tell us that it is a family picnic, or perhaps Little Bear’s picnic? Father Bear is dressed in a suit and tie; Mother Bear is dressed in a long skirt and blouse. Do you think that they are dressed for a picnic? How do you dress when you go on a picnic? Why? Let’s read the story and find out who went on the picnic, and why the picnic was for Mother Bear.
We will proceed to use a story map. The story map will help us with comprehension skills. First we will discuss the setting of the story. We want to know exactly where the story takes place. “In the garden” will not give us enough information. We want to know exactly what kind of garden it is, and where the picnic will be held in the garden. For example, the story takes place in the flower garden under a dogwood tree. Then we will proceed to tell about the characters, giving them vivid descriptions. For example, Father Bear is happy. He smiles throughout the story. He is dressed in a gray suit and tie. He looks as if he just came home from the office. After describing the characters, we will write about the problem in the story. Father Bear tells Mother that the sandwiches are for a fishing trip. Mother Bear leaves the house looking very sad. Quickly Little Bear sets out on the garden path with the picnic basket. However, the basket is too heavy so he takes some of the plates and cups out of the basket and places them along the path. Then he hears Mother Bear’s voice and hides behind a tree. Mother Bear sees the plates and cups and returns to the house for a basket. The solution begins when Little Bear gathers the plates and cups, spreads out a blanket and sets three places. He is picking flowers for Mother when he hears Mother and Father returning down the path. Mother Bear is laughing and telling Father Bear how happy she is that he is going to help her with the plates and cups that she found by the path. Little Bear jumps up and surprises her with the Mother’s Day picnic.
The children will write about a special family outing that they have experienced with their family. They will describe the setting, think about and write a problem that they have experienced, and explain the solution. They will also describe the characters in their story, using descriptive words to describe how they were dressed, and what sort of mood they displayed.
This will be a great time for our nature hike. Also, we will incorporate a picnic. It will be fun to bring our bears again. We will brainstorm about what foods we want to serve. But then again, if we think about Little Bear’s picnic foods, sandwiches and lemonade, sound exactly like a picnic that we might consider.
Week Three -- Day Onee
It is Blue Monday’s turn to introduce and read our book,
A Present for Mother Bear.
It is Mother Bear’s birthday. Father Bear is making a cake. Little Bear decides to pick wild flowers for Mother Bear. As he strolls through the forest, he meets his friends. Each one has a perfect present that they want to exchange for Little Bear’s present. In the end, everyone has their original presents and Little Bear gives Mother Bear the wildflowers. Blue Monday will lead the children in a discussion about choosing gifts for family members. How do you decide what gifts to give? Did Little Bear go to the store for his gift? Why not? Do gifts have to be purchased from stores? Why? Why do you suppose Mother Bear thought Little Bear’s gift was perfect? Mother Bear gave Little Bear a kiss. Little Bear said that the kiss was sweeter than the flowers. Why do suppose Little Bear made that statement? Father Bear asked Mother Bear what she thought about the cake. Mother Bear gave him a kiss too and said that his cake was sweet also. Why is it important to thank everyone for the kindness that they show?
Today after reading the story we will prepare a graphic organizer using a sequence-of-events map. We will write each event in a box then place an arrow pointing to the next box and write the next event. We will uses boxes and arrows until all of the boxes have been filled.
Week Three -- Day Twoo
Tuesday’s Cup of Sugar comes out and tells the class that she is having a very bad day. She lost her hat. When she found it there was a big hole in it. The banana that she was going to eat for breakfast has turned all soft and brown. She only found one shoe and that one has paint splattered all over it. She suggests that perhaps she could be excused so she could sleep and come another day. Before Tuesday leaves, she asks a student to read our story,
Little Bear’s Bad Day,
to the class. The children discover that Little Bear is also having a bad day. In the story, Little Bear spills his milk, he knocks over his paint, the kite jumps out of his hand, and he snags his finger on a fishing hook. Little Bear is discouraged. He climbs a tree and tries to sleep. His friends come along and cheer him up by telling him that he is a good friend. They encourage him by saying that he makes them happy, and that they always have a fun time together.
Tuesday’s Cup of Sugar comes out again. The children tell her about Little Bear’s bad day. Tuesday asks the children if they have ever had a bad day? She reminds the children about Cat and Hen and what they did to encourage Little Bear. Does it help when someone is having a bad day to poke fun at them and call them names? How could you help someone who is having a bad day?
Tuesday tells the children that today they will write a story. In the story they will tell about a bad day. What happened during your bad day? Did someone come along and encourage you? Write about it.
Week Three, Day Three
A good book to follow
Little Bear’s Bad Day
A Kiss for Little Bear.
Little Bear draws a picture for Grandma Bear. Hen is asked to deliver the picture to Grandma. Grandma is very pleased with the picture and asks Hen to send a kiss to Little Bear. The kiss is passed to a lot of animal friends and finally ends up with Little Bear.
After Wednesday Delight reviews the sequence of events in the story, she will tell the children to look at the detailed drawings that Maurice Sendak made for the story. All of the animals have minute detailed lines showing their fur and feathers. Even the trees, grass, and leaves have those same detailed lines that make them stand out and seem life-like. Wednesday will ask the children to choose a character from the story and try to imitate Sendak’s pictures. They will write a sentence describing what their animal is doing.
Week Three, Day Four
Alphabet Thursday asks the children if they have ever had a loose tooth. Of course, all of the children want to share their experiences. -- first graders love to do that! He tells them to wait for their responses. How do you think Little Bear’s tooth will come out? On the cover we see Cat and Hen. Do you think they will have any suggestions for their friend? How do you think the tooth will come out? Suppose Little Bear puts the tooth under this pillow. Do you think the tooth fairy will remember Little Bear? What will the tooth fairy bring to Little Bear? After the story is read by Alphabet Thursday, the children discover that Emily, Cat, Duck, and Owl all have different suggestions for pulling the tooth, but none of them work. It’s Mother Bear’s corn on the cob that brings the tooth out. Little Bear is so happy that he wants to whistle. However, he discovers that he cannot whistle. What does the tooth fairy bring Little Bear? Of course, a nice big, red, shiny whistle!!
Alphabet Thursday tells the children that now it is their turn to write about their loose tooth and the tooth fairy. He will tell them that they will draw three pictures -- their loose tooth, how the tooth came out, and what they did with the tooth..
Week Three, Day Five
Happy Friday will share the last Little Bear book that we will be using in our unit,
Little Bear’s Friend.
Little Bear meets a new friend in this story. Actually we have met her before -- Emily. But we did not know how Little Bear met her. Emily and her family are camping in the woods nearby Little Bear’s house. Emily introduces her doll, Lucy, to Little Bear. The three of them become good friends. At the end of the summer, Little Bear is sad to see Emily leave. She almost gives her doll Lucy to him, but gives Little Bear a fountain pen instead. Soon after she has gone, Little Bear writes a letter to his good friend, Emily..
Happy Friday asks the children why they think the author brings a human character to the Little Bear stories. Also, it is interesting that Emily is the only human character in the stories, and she is not in all of the stories. Could we pretend to be Emily in the story? Is it impossible to imagine that we are the other animal characters?
The children are told by Happy Friday that he wants to thank all of his friends for helping to share the Little Bear stories with our class. He suggests that the children write a letter to one of the puppets telling about a favorite Little Bear book and why they liked the book. He will also remind the children that the Little Bear books are in our classroom library. They may read them during any free moments throughout the day.
Happy Friday tells the children that he is going to choose a friend from our room. Everyone is going to write a letter to that person and place it in a special mailbox. They will begin just as Little Bear did to Emily telling about the weather. Then they will tell about something that they did at home with their family or a fun activity at school. They will end their letter by saying something kind about their friend. Everyday Happy Friday will choose a new friend for the class so that everyone receives a special letter.