Sunday, April 27, 2014

Have a Bear Day!

So let's start with BEARS!  Pick and choose what of the following ideas work for you in your space and timeframe.  You can put it all in one day or enjoy many BEAR days!  Songs mentioned can be found on the internet.


A few good BEAR BOOKS you may have or may want to check out from your library.                                      Mama's Little Bears by Nancy Tafuri
                                                 Jamberry by Bruce Degen
                                                 Ask Mr. Bear by Marjorie Flack
                                                 Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson
                                                 The Bear Went Over the Mountain by Iza Trapani
                                                 Good Night, Baby Bear by Frank Asch
                                                 Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey
                                                 The Three Bears by Byron Barton
                                                 The Bear Who Shared by Catherine Rayner
                                                 Orange Pear Apple Bear by Emily Gravett

Gather any other bear books you have around your house.

Round up as many teddy bears as you can find, or draw and cut out a few simple teddy bears on a piece of paper or download a bear or two from online coloring pages to use in the activities.

Anytime during the day take a Bear Break to read a favorite bear book or try a new one.

Eat one meal as a Teddy Bears' Picnic even if you don't know the song.  Make up a bear song!  And be sure to invite your teddy bears or your pictures of bears.

You can find this traditional children's song on the internet, or make up a song about a bear on a mountain.  Make a big pile of sofa and bed pillows in the middle of the room and climb back and forth over your own mountain while you sing loudly, then quietly, then slowly, then quickly, then growling like a bear!! How silly can you be?!

Read with great energy and rhythm my following action rhyme I KNOW A BUSY BEAR.
Read it again and ask your child (and anyone else in the room) to echo each line with you.
Now learn the actions and then put them together with the words.  The actions work well sitting or standing.
Keep the feel of the steady beat as you say the words and make the movements!

(Action rhymes are valuable because of both the physical involvement and the sound and rhythm of the rhyme. You can, of course, make up your own actions.  Your child may have different action ideas.  All the better!  Be sure to sit facing your child, or place both of you in front of a mirror to do the actions.  Even if your child does not do all of the actions at first, his/her brain mirror cells are picking them up.  That brain is developing all of the time!)
                                                    I KNOW A BUSY BEAR
                                      I know a busy bear who lives in a cave.
                                      He's very, very funny, and he's very, very brave.
                                      Bear likes to catch fish with his big, furry paws.
                                      Bear likes to climb trees with his big, sharp claws.
                                      Bear dances in the meadow to the bluebird's song,
                                      and he sleeps and he sleeps all the cold winter long.

                                                                                          Jane Willis Johnston
                                                                                          Copyright 1999                                                                                                                                   

                                              I KNOW A BUSY BEAR

                                    I know a busy bear who lives in a cave.
           (Make your hands into fists and hold them above your ears for bear ears.
             Now hold your hands together over your head to make an arch for a cave.)
                                     He's very, very funny, and he's very, very brave.
            (Hold your hands up next to your face and wiggle your fingers,
              then fold your arms across your chest.)
                                      Bear likes to catch fish with his big, furry paws.
            (Reach out both arms and grab with hands and pull back to chest, keeping up
             the rhythm of the words with four beats.)
                                      Bear like to climb trees with his big, sharp claws.
             (Stretch out your fingers to make claws and reach up to climb.  You can take
              high steps, too, if you are standing.  Reach up four times with the rhythm.)
                                       Bear dances in the meadow to the bluebird's song,
              (Make dance moves with whole body, sitting or standing, to the rhythm,
                turning all the way around if you want.)
                                       and he sleeps and he sleeps all the cold winter long.
               ( Lean your head to one side and tuck your hands together next to your cheek,
                 close your eyes, then lean the other way.  You can even curl up on the floor.)

Once everyone learns the actions, do it all over again!!

This action rhyme is a limerick, that special rhyme pattern with two long lines that rhyme, then two short lines with a new rhyme, then a last long line that rhymes with the first two lines.  You need to be aware of that pattern as you speak A BIG BROWN BEAR.  For action, you can stand and walk in place slowly, then climb the tree reaching high and taking high steps, look surprised, then run in place.  Or, sitting, you can beat the rhythm slowly on your knees with your hands, climb the tree reaching up, look surprised, then beat the rhythm quickly on your knees to help that bear get away from that bee!

                                                      A BIG BROWN BEAR

                                A big brown bear took a walk in the wood.
                                He moved just as slowly as a big bear should.
                                              He climbed a tall tree
                                              where he met a honey bee!
                                So he scrambled right down just as fast as he could!

                                                                                              Jane Willis Johnston

                                                                                              Copyright 2005


Making up stories together is a creative, effective way to build imagination, vocabulary, listening skills, a sense of sequence, an appreciation of consequence, teamwork and attention span.  And, of course, it is just plain fun!

Choose a teddy bear and sit with your child or children facing each other or in a circle if there are at least three of you.   Hold the bear, say "Once upon a time," and begin a story.  It works best to start simply, such as "Once upon a time there was a bear with brown fur who decided to go for a walk."     Now, pass the bear on to someone else to continue the story.  Suggest that the next person repeat what you said, then add something to the story.

If you have never tried this before with your child, you may need to ask a question, such as "What did the bear see on his walk?"  Your child may answer with one word, "A bird."  You create the sentence, "The bear saw a bird."  Then repeat the two lines and, encourage your child to repeat the two lines.  Then pass the bear to the next person.

Keep going around the circle, passing the bear and creating the story.  You take the lead in bringing the story to an end, maybe after each person has had only one or two turns so you are sure everyone understands the process.  The shorter the better to build confidence!   Then start another story.  Maybe your child will want to begin the next story.  Great!  You take the lead again and get really silly, suggest something outlandish, get things rolling.  Very young children can be surprisingly literal-minded and sometimes need a nudge to try something new.


Partially hide a bear in a "cave" around the house while your child covers his/her eyes.
When you are ready, take a tour with your child and say,
              Do you see a bear?  Do you see a bear?
When your child sees a bear, they should say, (You will say it with them until they learn the words.)
              Yes, I see a bear!  Yes, I see a bear!
You say,
               Well, where, oh, where do you see a bear?
They say,
                I see a big (or little or red or sad or funny) furry bear right there!!
You say,
                Please put that bear on a chair.  (You could say "on a stair" if you have stairs.  You could alternate "chair" and "stair" to make it even more interesting.)

Stop when you run out of bears or chairs.  Take turns hiding bears and finding bears.

A DAY FULL OF STORIES:   Before everyone in your household goes to bed, tell each other the story of your day full of bears, remembering all of the things about bears you explored and shared.  Be sure everyone gets a turn to talk.  Give everyone a bear hug and say "Good night!"

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Opening Day!

I believe that Every Day Is Storytime in the lives of busy families. 

This blog is dedicated to exploring the fun of finding and appreciating the words and stories tucked into the corners of your family time together. From infants to adults, the sounds and rhythms coming from your own voice and the voices of others can make for wonderful ways to connect with each other and the world: all from the telling of or the listening to a story as classic as The Little Red Hen, to the making up of your own The Tale of What I Had for Lunch Today to the repeating of a poem or song as many times as makes you happy.

There are many remarkable, resource-rich blogs and websites out there for you with lots of storytime ideas and materials for you and for libraries, schools and daycares.  I am not skilled at all the computer wizardry that produces such amazing sites.  So I shall just share on my own simple terms and hope you can make use of what I have to offer.  My focus is to supplement your parenting efforts with my creativity in celebration of the amazing opportunities of childhood.   

I recently retired from over thirty years of developing and presenting programs for children at a public library.  I designed over forty themed preschool storytimes. Each storytime consisted of an opening song, which I wrote, usually three books alternated with action rhymes, songs or finger plays, sometimes a cut-and-tell story, a flannelboard story told with felt figures, and a closing circle song.  We always had such a good time with stories and words of all kinds! 

When I could not find enough material to fill out my plan, I just wrote it myself.

With this blog I publish some of my writings for you to use with your preschool children as you experience these exciting and crucial developmental years together.  I consider preschool to be any age before five.  Perhaps someday I will put all of this into a book, but for now I include a booklist, some activity ideas and a few suggestions for creating your own stories.  Some posts will feature some of my poems or song lyrics (you can make up your own melodies) or fingerplay/action rhyme.  I want to help ensure Every Day Is Storytime in the life of your family.