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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Teacher Tuesday: kindergarten lesson for "Going On A Bear Hunt"

I love using books and stories in my music lessons, especially with the younger students! Today I'll be sharing my favorite activities to use with the book, "We're Going On a Bear Hunt" by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury.

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First of all, this book is just the best. I have never met a child who doesn't like this story. You can get the book here:


The first thing I do when I use this book with kindergarten is read the story to them out loud. Before I start, I tell them to listen for "sound words". I read the story with a steady beat, and show the steady beat with my arms (swinging back and forth like I'm marching) which I say the words. I don't explicitly tell them to, but the students usually start keeping the beat along with me while they listen.

Afterwards, we talk about the "sound words" in the story- wonderful words like "swishy swashy" and "squelch squerch". Then I ask for volunteers to try making the sound with their own voices. I read the story again, but this time I ask all of the students to march on the beat during the refrain ("we're going on a bear hunt...") and make the sound with their voice when I get to the sound words. They love this! I love it too because besides being silly, it helps reinforce the concept of voice timbres, found / nature sounds, and steady beat.

Next we review the steps in the journey that they heard in the story. By now they have heard it twice, so they can usually remember the different parts of the excursion, like going through the grass and into the cave. Then I introduce our own bear hunt through the classroom! I use this activity to assess and practice their ability to follow a set of directions, their gross motor skills, and their understanding of directional vocabulary. I just use whatever I have laying around the room- this past year we had the following steps:





There's nothing fancy about it at all, but the children react as if it were a real adventure- they get so excited to take their turn! I demonstrate it once for them, emphasizing the direction words (over, through, etc), then have them go through all of the steps one at a time. Last year I had quite a few students that struggled with directions, so this was really good practice for them! Remembering 4 things in sequence like this is not as easy as it may seem for this age.

After our adventure through the classroom, we went over to the projector and copied the motions while we watched the video of Michael Rosen, the author, reciting the story. If you've never seen this video, you have to watch it- it is absolutely mesmerizing!


You can use these activities over a period or several lesson, use all or some of them in one lesson, or incorporate various parts into other lessons and revisit the story. I've done it all different ways and had great success with each. The activity where students listen for sound words and use their voice to make those sounds is a great lead-in to a deeper study on timbres in general. I recently posted some ideas for using another book about a bear, "The Bear Snores On", in this post, which is a great way to study timbres.

I'm linking up with Jennifer Bailey at Sing To Kids to share some of my favorite lessons to use with children's literature. Head on over to the link to see tons of other amazing ideas from other music teacher bloggers!

Have you ever used this book in your music classes? I would love to hear any other ideas you might have to go with this book! Leave a comment :)

14 comments :

  1. I love everything about this post! I did this activity with kindergarteners too, and it was always one of their favorites :)

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    1. Thank you! My kindergartners last year were directionally-challenged, so this was a particularly helpful lesson for them :) And it's just so much fun!

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  2. Fabulous! I've used this story but not the book. I love the video piece too.

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    1. I LOVE the video- it was my new discovery last year and I almost died of cuteness when I first saw it :)

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  3. I do this with K every year, but I actually set up a bear hunt around the school! I came up with other places we could go and sound words for them- their favorite is A Big Field of Flowers (Sniff, Achoo!). It's a ton of fun and gets us out of the classroom, which they really enjoy!

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    1. That sounds AMAZING! I may have to see if I can pull that off this year- thanks for the tip! :)

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  4. Elizabeth, I do this song as part of my yearly Kindergarten Teddy Bear Picnic but not in such a grand way! I look forward to trying this with them this year!

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    1. Yay! I'd love to hear how it goes :) What other songs/activities do you do at your picnic?

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  5. This is great! I'm excited to do this with the kids after Easter Break!

    I LOVE to use books with the kids! The love the pictures, and there are just so many activities. Here are a couple of ideas I have used -

    Jump, Frog, Jump!: Robert Kalan, Byron Barton - We make different sounds for each of the animals
    Pout, Pout Fish - I use it at the beginning of the year to teach a steady beat, then add instruments and things

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    1. I hope it goes well- I love doing this with my kindergarten classes! They beg to do it again and again the rest of the school year too, haha! I am excited to check out your book recommendations- I hadn't heard of those before! Thanks so much for sharing!!!

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  6. I love this idea and can't wait to try it with my kindergarten class as well as maybe even my first grade class. Another one of my absolute favorites is reading the book Hand Hand Finger Thumb by Dr. Suess. I read it in the rhythm of the story and the kids naturally start to tap their laps or feet to the steady beat and then we add drums and or different instruments. They LOVE this lesson. I actually found it on Pinterest if you want to see how it is structured.

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