Toddler Homeschool: Bear Week

Last week was our third week of themed learning for J. In our first week, we studied Snow; in our second week we studied Penguins; and last week we studied Bears! It has been a fun few weeks of learning. It definitely lessens the cabin fever a bit, and helps me focus more on learning activities with J.

If you're new to these posts, I am currently staying home with J before he goes to preschool, and before I go back to work (Eek! I hate how quickly the time is ticking away....). These themed weeks and activities came as a result of a dreary and very cold winter, and having to stay cooped up a bit more than usual. Tack on a horrendous flu season, and we are inside for the majority of the time. We were getting a bit stir crazy (me a bit more than J), and so I started researching themed activities for preschoolers. There are a TON of great resources out there; however, I was a bit discouraged to see that many activities I found were geared towards 4-5 year-olds, which limited some of our capabilities. However, the teacher in me saw a huge opportunity for some differentiation!! So these "lessons" and activities are a result of me tailoring the fun activities I've found online to meet J's needs (and interests). Below you'll find suggestions of activities that you can implement at home.

Note: My activities are extremely low-budget (since we don't have a ton extra to spend), but I hope that appeals to you as well.

For Bear Week, here's a glimpse of some activities we did (that you can try too!):
My 1 minute painting (since J wasn't interested)

  • Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas, Natasha Yim
  • Bears, Katie Marco
  • Snow Bears, Martin Waddell
  • Corduroy, Don Freeman
  • Bears (National Geographic Board Book)
  • We're Going on a Bear Hunt, Michael Rosen
Out of all of these, I was sure that J would gravitate toward the non-fiction. Nope; we read Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas every day. Multiple times. And it's a good 10-15 minute read! He LOVED it! There is something magical about fairy tales and stories of the like. The repetition and action in the books must be very interesting. Plus J loved the parts where Goldy made a huge mess around the Bears' house. He would say, "Mess!! Mop!" He is very obsessed with cleaning right now. (Let's hope that continues into his teen and adult years.)

  • Disneynature: Bears (We actually accidentally got the BluRay DVD, and we don't have a player, so we didn't get a chance to watch this, but it looked fantastic)
Gross Motor Activities:
  • Walk like a Bear - do you remember having to walk like a bear in gym class growing up? Well, it's the same idea; just teach your little how to walk like a bear and they will love different obstacles where they have to try out this new way of walking!
  • Bear Hunt Yoga - Read We're Going on a Bear Hunt and engage in yoga poses to "act out" the different scenes in the book. Cosmic Kids has a great video you can follow along with!
  • Teddy Bear Teddy Bear - Read/recite the following poem and do the motions with it:
Teddy bear, teddy bear turn around (turn around in a circle)
Teddy bear, teddy bear touch the ground. (bend down and touch the ground)

Teddy bear, teddy bear reach up high! (stretch your arms up to the ceiling)
Teddy bear, teddy bear touch the sky! (with arms still lifted, jump)

Teddy bear, teddy bear go upstairs, (march your legs, as if you're walking upstairs)
Teddy bear, teddy bear say your prayers. (kneel on the ground, and fold hands together)

Teddy bear, teddy bear turn out the light. (pretend to turn off a light)
Teddy bear, teddy bear say goodnight. (lay your head on your hands and pretend to snore)

Fine Motor Activities:
  • Ursa Major Lacing Activity - I found a picture of the constellation of Ursa Major (aka "Big Bear") and punched out holes on some of the stars. I then attached half of a shoe lace to the card and showed J how to lace the shoe lace into the different holes. This was a challenging but fun activity for him.
  • Polar Bear Painting - Play to Learn Preschool has a great painting activity for this! However, because I didn't want a huge mess (because we don't have a smock for J yet), we used water color. I was glad I didn't waste my time getting out acrylic or tempera paint, because J painted for a whole 2 seconds and said, "Done!" So what you see in the picture is mostly my work to show you what it could look like. I would have done more, but J was very determined to move on to another activity that he kept shutting the paint closed on me....

STEM Activities:
  • Bear Silhouette Matching - I found bear silhouettes and cut out a few of them. I showed J one card at a time and asked him to find the matching/same card. This was pretty challenging, so I differentiated by only having him match 4 at a time. This worked much better.
  • Brown Bear Brown Bear Matching - To work on colors, I used a previous activity I had made using Eric Carle's Brown Bear animals. I held up the color cards and asked J, "What animal is yellow?" We did this until he matched them all. So there is hope that he's actually learning colors. He enjoyed this one immensely (perhaps because we have already done a lot with Brown Bear).