Tag Archives: Animals

Don’t Wake the Bear!

Here’s a combination of hibernation activities for your preschoolers that fit nicely together for a story time or large group activity.

Bear With Me.  Start out by getting the children’s attention.  Bring them to your story area or large group area by telling them they have to be very, very quiet (whispering yourself, of course).  Using a bear puppet or toy bear, tell them that the bear is sleeping and we do not want to wake him up.  Once everyone has settled in, tell them very briefly about hibernation.

The Deep Sleep.  Hibernation can be a very complicated science topic, but preschoolers just need the basic concept.  When I present it to a group of young ones, my explanation would go something like this (still whispering, of course, so you don’t wake up the bear):

When it gets cold outside, we put on our snow clothes, like coats and mittens and hats.  Many animals do something similar by eating more food and having more fat and fur grow to keep their bodies warm.  It’s kind of like wearing a coat!  (This could be a topic of exploration for quite sometime, in and of itself.  If you’ve already explored that, make some quick connections there.)  Some animals, like bears, eat lots and lots of food, and then they go into their caves or “dens”, the places where bears live, and they curl up and they just sleep.  All winter long!  It’s called, “hibernation”.  Can you say “hibernation”?  It’s a big word, isn’t it?  We use the word “hibernation” to describe when an animal sleeps all winter long.  They don’t even wake up in the day time!  They just sleep and sleep until the snow starts to melt and it’s warm outside again.  Their bodies are designed to hibernate as a way to survive the winter when it’s so cold and the food is hard to find.  Isn’t that crazy?  Do you hibernate?  No, people don’t hibernate.  In the winter, we go to sleep at night, and then we wake up every morning.  These animals that hibernate, they don’t wake up until spring time!  That’s a long time to be asleep!  I have a song about a hibernating bear that I want you to learn with me!

Here’s the song.  I usually have the words written on a song chart or sentence strips and point as we sing, so that the children can make the association with the written word to increase langauge and literacy skills.

Mr. Bear (Tune: If You’re Happy and You Know it)

Mr. Bear says all he wants to do is sleep!

Now that winter’s here and snow is cold and deep!

He is curled up in his den,

And we won’t see him again,

‘Till the spring when all he wants to do is…eat!

It’s fun to hesitate as you sing this song, to allow the children to come up with the rhyming words.  Recognizing those rhymes helps build phonological awareness, a critical pre-reading skill.

I’ll often talk about why the bear wants to eat when he wakes up.  I ask the children if they ever wake up in the morning and they’re so hungry for breakfast.  Then, I challenge them to imagine that they’ve been asleep for one hundred days.  How hungry would they be then?

Bear Snores On

Bear Snores On.  After this discussion and song, I love to read the book, Bear Snores On, by Karma Wilson.  It’s written with such great rhythmic and rhyming text, a perfect combination for preschoolers.  It’s about a bear sleeping through a winter storm while several animals seek shelter in his den, turning it into a big party.  The bear sleeps through the raucous gathering until a tiny fleck of pepper lands on his nose and he sneezes.  He’s angry, and then sad, to realize that he wasn’t included in the fun.  The animals comfort him and assure him that the party’s not over, and they have a great deal of fun together.  That is, until morning when the bear is still wide awake, but the other animals fall asleep!

Sleeping Bears.  As you finish these activities, you can use the same concepts you’ve just covered to make a smooth transition to your next activity.  Have the children curl up like sleeping bears.  Really get them into it.  Have them yawn and curl up, and encourage them to snore (some will imitate the bear in the book, and feign a huge sneeze).  Tell them that when you tap them they can stand up and move to….wherever the next activity is.  This is particularly useful if you need to divide into smaller groups, or put on coats to transition outside or home.  By keeping the children busy and sending one at a time, there’s usually less chaos in the transition.  Usually.

Enjoy some or all of these activities as you explore animals in the winter time with your little ones!

For more wintry activities, click here!

Top bear photo by cece.


1 Comment

Filed under book activity, Building Readers, Fingerplay, language activity, Learning through Play and Experience, music and movement activity, science activity, Transitions

A Camping We Will Go!

camp signKids love the adventure of camping!  Particularly when it comes to camping in a dramatic play scenario, anything can happen!  When I set up a camping theme dramatic play area this week, my own 3 year old asked, “And where is the bear?”  I could guess he already had a storyline brewing.  In the course of a few days, he and his friends camped, chased bears, were bears, and in a strange twist, even turned their tent into a tank and joined the military.  (I told you anything could happen!)


So here are the supplies I suggest for a camping dramatic play area.  PLEASE let me know what you like to add!

  • A tent, of course!  I used a play tent here, but I’ve also used a real dome tent in larger areas or outside.
  • Backpacks – stocked with blankets, flashlights, old cell phones, compasses, binoculars, and play food.
  • Location, location, location!  Add something to make your woodsy retreat.  If you’re setting up outside, great!  You’re done!  Here I used a tree prop.  It’s made from a large cardboard box (from a car seat, I think), opened on one side and then folded out into a large strip.  These folds make it much easier to store.  I tape up fall leaves, apples, and anything else I may need to make a more specific tree.  You can’t see the color much in this photo, but I colored the canopy of the tree using three crayons in different shades of green, holding all three at once, and drawing curly cues all around.
  • Reading Resources.  You may add some field guides, or nonfiction animal books for the campers to use to identify their furry and feathered neighbors.
  • Characters.  With my son’s request, I also added a bear puppet.  You may want to add other animals as puppets, stuffed toys, murals, or even birds suspended from the ceiling if you’re that ambitious!

Dramatic play encourages symbolic thinking, a necessary skill for reading.  Also, social and language skills grow by leaps and bounds as they negotiate and implement roles and plots.  (To learn more about dramatic play, click here!)  Camping is a great dramatic play theme for many nature units, including trees and leaves, fall, and animals.

What would you add to this camping props list?

For more favorite fall activities, click here!

Top photo by porah.


Filed under dramatic play, Learning through Play and Experience

Lumpy Bumpy Dinosaur Scales


dino scalesAs you’re talking to your preschoolers about dinosaurs, it’s great to talk about what they might have looked like.  No one was around to see them, so no one knows for sure, but paleontologists have used some clues to help them make some really good guesses.  Some “mummified” dinosaur remains show dinosaurs with scales.  That would make sense since they are considered reptiles!  (The name brontosaurus actually means “thunder lizard”, just a tid-bit kids love to hear.) Here’s a great activity to explore the scaly nature of dinosaur skin while also building creativity and motor skills.

Start this one out with a discussion about dinosaur’s skin.  I have used the book  Dino Pets, by Lynn Plourde  to introduce this idea, since it does a great job of illustrating and comparing the many characteristics of dinosaurs.  I’ve also used samples of leather (or imitation leather, it may be easier to come by) for the children to feel the bumpy, scaly texture.  Then, using a dinosaur outline as your base, (I found these dinosaur outlines online), have the children rip colored paper into small pieces and glue them on the dinosaur to represent the dinosaur scales.  (It may be easiest just to cover the dinosaur with your glue stick before tearing.)    Don’t be tempted to cut the paper for them!  The tearing action utilizes the pincer grasp and builds fine motor strength and control.  These are all skills children need to develop in order to have the physical ability to write.  Of course, since we have no way to be sure what colors the dinosaurs were, the children can use their imaginations and implement any colors they like.  Challenge their creativity and talk to them about their ideas as they make their own colorful dinosaurs.  Where would such a colorful dinosaur live?  What is it called?  What does it eat? 

Now inevitably, some children will be so enamoured with this ripping and gluing action that they will cover their papers with these colorful scales and completely obscure the dinosaur outline.  That’s OK!  Remember the objective of this activity is not to create a cute dinosaur.  The objective is to learn about the science concept of scales as a dinosaur characteristic, and to build creativity and fine motor strength.  Those things can be done whether you have an obvious dinosaur outline or not.  Enjoy creating these colorful, scaly creatures together!

Fore more dinosaur activities, click here!


Filed under book activity, Building Readers, Create, fine motor skills, science activity

Book Activity: If You Give a Pig a Pancake – Syrup Paint!

If You Give a Pig a Pancake Big Book (If You Give...)Laura Numeroff has a good thing going.  And it keeps going, around and around as her circular stories charm children every time.  As part of her series that began with If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, Numeroff explores the cause and effect cycle from the obvious to the outlandish as a pancake leads to syrup, then eventually tap shoes and even a tree houses!  All coming full circle as the pig is led to ask for another pancake! 

 As you read this book with children, pause before some of the pig’s requests to see if the children can anticipate what will come next.  After reading, you might even pose some hypothetical questions, like, “What if you gave the pig a blanket?  What might she ask for next?”  Remember that there isn’t a right answer.  You might think the logical request would be a pillow, but a child may connect the blanket with something entirely different.  Just as a pancake eventually leads to a tree house, your children will have reasons for their connections, so let them explain!  This kind of discussion reinforces the concept of cause and effect, while also allowing for creative thinking.

After reading and discussing, try syrup painting for an extension activity!  In small containers (the plastic baby food containers from Gerber are perfect) pour a bit of corn syrup, and then color it with watercolor powder or food coloring.  Stir with a toothpick until the color is smooth.  This shiny colored syrup takes on a jewel-like quality and is so enticing!  Have your piggie painters use eye-droppers to move the syrup paint from the containers to their papers (which you could cut in the shape of pancakes if you wish).  The syrup is more viscous than regular paint and goes on much differently.  Some children may experiment with the way the syrup makes strings of shiny balls of color.  Others may mix the colors together and spread the syrup so that it’s more flat.  Let them experiment as you talk with them about the properties of the paint, what it reminds them of, and what they are trying to do with it.dscn14471

Depending on how thick the syrup is on the finished product, the papers will need to dry flat for a day or two before hanging to dry, or gently being transferred home.  The children love to see how shiny and feel how smooth these pictures are once they’ve dried!

dscn1451This activity not only extends a literacy experience to a creative experience, but also expands vocabulary and sensory skills as you talk about the characteristics of the paint.  Using the droppers requires the use of fine motor skills and introduces the use of a scientific tool.  Bet you didn’t think you’d get all that with your pancake!


Filed under book activity, Building Readers, Create, language activity, Learning through Play and Experience

Where’s Kitty Hiding?


Photo courtesy of night fate.

I like to start this activity with a great fingerplay.  It’s an adaptation of one I found years back somewhere on the internet.

Kitty Is Hiding

Kitty is hiding under a chair. (Thumb under opposite hand.)

I looked and I looked for her everywhere. (Look around with hand above eyes.)

Under the table, and under the bed,  (Pretend to look under.)

I looked in the corner and then I said,

“Come Kitty, come Kitty, I have milk for you.”  (Cup hands as though holding bowl.)

Kitty came running and calling, “Mew, mew!”

Game time!

After doing the fingerplay a few times, I tell the children we are going to try to find Kitty in our own game.  One child comes up and closes his eyes.  Then, I give a toy cat to one of the children to hide behind her back.  I really play up the trickery and encourage all of the children to put their hands behind their backs to try to trick the “guesser”.  When the children are ready, the “guesser” can open his eyes.  Instead of just trying to guess who has the cat, he asks someone, “Where’s Kitty Hiding?”  The child can not give him the name of the child hiding it, but can give him clues like, “Kitty’s hiding behind someone with long hair/ black shoes/ the letter “S” in his name/ etc.”  The guesser then uses the clues to try to figure out where the kitty is hiding.  The game continues with a clue from anyone who doesn’t have the cat, and a “Right Here!” from the one who does!  As you’re explaining this game to the children, take some time to explain how to give clues.  Point out a child and say, “What clues could we give about Blake without saying his name?”  Work through a few examples with the children before starting the game.

This activity combination works great with a small or large group of children.  With the fingerplay, language skills are strongly supported as rhythm and rhyme are used and the location word “under” is exemplified.  The group game supports social skills by encouraging the children to follow simple rules and work as a group.  Giving and following clues also supports language and cognitive development.

Leave a comment

Filed under Fingerplay, game, language activity, Learning through Play and Experience