Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Going on a Bear Hunt: Read and Reenact to Build Gross Motor Skills

Baby bookworm and I not only check out books from the library, but also lots of CDs.  As having a baby gives me an excuse to relive my childhood, at some point in time I had checked out a classic version (i.e., 70s or 80s) of Sesame Street songs.  Not really to my surprise, baby bookworm took to these songs, despite their being decades old.  Recently, though, after listening to a song on this CD sung by Grover called Over, Under, Around, and Through....I thought, wow, that reminds me of that book We're Going On A Bear Hunt  (I'm constantly looking for inspiration and connections from our daily lives that I can reinforce through books). I can CLEARLY remember sitting at circle time chanting We're Going On A Bear Hunt in my first grade class with my teacher, Miss Custer.  So at this week's trip to the library, I decided to revisit this fun, chanty, sing-a-long kind of story with an element of excitement.  My learning agenda with this book was threefold: I could reinforce those prepositional words from Grover's song (i.e., enhance vocabulary/comprehension), further develop her gross motor skills in a fun way by recreating our own bear hunt, and teach her about onomatopoeic words. So, alas, here we are going on a bear hunt....and he's our learning experience.

Of course, as I have mentioned in my Read Aloud Tips, I always read the book through at least once with no learning agenda so that I don't disrupt the flow of the book and baby bookworm can get acquainted with the story and characters.  I tried the first and third objectives below on the second read through.  The second objective was more of a reenactment of the story and I didn't try to "read" the book at the same time....we did it from memory. 

1) Comprehension/Vocabulary - The words over, under, and through are used frequently throughout the story because the story line is repetitive in nature (which makes this a great book for infants, toddlers, and school-aged children).  Rather than just reading these words, I specifically pointed them out to my baby bookworm.  So, for instance, in the story when they get to the river and say, "we can't go OVER it"...I put real emphasis on the word OVER and asked her to repeat it (she's really getting the hang of this talking thing).  Then I basically had a conversation with myself (using some dialogic reading techniques), "how would they go OVER the river?" "When do we go OVER rivers? How?" Then I did the same sort of thing with under and through...

2). Gross Motor Skills - Let's face it, most people (and kids) learn by doing.  Learning theorists such as Piaget and Vygotsky have long suggested that taking an active, rather than passive, role in learning is critical to the process of acquiring new knowledge (this is known as a constructivist view of learning).  So, I decided to act out the story with my baby bookworm so that she would actually be going OVER, UNDER, and THROUGH....  I got my inspiration for this activity from a great book called Read! Move! Learn! Active Stories for Active Learning by Carol Totsky Hammett and Nicki Collins Geigert.  Baby bookworm and I created a river (which was really her bathtub filled with water and a toy fish and crab), a snowstorm (which was really bubbles), we pretended we came across mud and took our shoes and socks off to go THROUGH the mud, a cave (made out of a dark basket with a bear, of course), and then we climbed UNDER our covers like in the book, to get away from the bear.  This is just what I had around, but use your own imagination to create a bear hunt that caters to your child.  She had lots of fun climbing over, under, and through (while at the same time enhancing motor skills).

Our "river"

Our "cave" and bear

Back to safety under the covers like in the picture in the book (shown below)

From some Baby Einstein flashcards we have....it has great information about bears we read on the back of the card

3). Onomatopoeic words - Each time the characters in this book go THROUGH something (like the river) it makes a fun sound (e.g., splash, splosh!).  Baby bookworm and I had a blast saying these words, and they helped her to learn about letter blends in words. 

I hope you all "catch a big one"!

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