Bill Martin Jr.’s book, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? is a favorite of both children and adults alike. One each page, we are introduced to a new animal who helps us discover which creature will show up next. Young children love the repetitive text and singsong rhythm of the words, and the bold and colorful illustrations by Eric Carle. For the teacher, this wonderful picture book provides a wealth of activities for young children from preschoolers to elementary students.
Below you will find five fun activities for the preschooler using Brown Bear that cover several curriculum areas. Make the entire day a Brown Bear, Brown Bear day, or do an activity a day and make it a week-long theme. All of these lessons can be used in the classroom or just as easily at home.
Begin by reading the book. If you choose to spread the activities out over the week, read the book before you begin each activity. This one has such repetitive text, that soon your child will be “reading” with you and then, by themselves!
More than likely this is a book that you have read with your child before. For children who are familiar with the book, this activity works great! Remember, pointing at the words as you read helps your child understand that those letters on the page are coming together to form words. It helps with one-to-one correspondence and more. In this activity, you begin and let the child finish the sentence, For example:
YOU – Brown Bear, Brown Bear, what do you see?
CHILD – I see a red bird looking at me!
Continue this through the entire book. Before you know it, your child will be “reading” the entire story with you!
Language and Literacy
Brown Bear’s Color Word Match – this fun literacy activity uses cards for the child to match the animals with their color word. For this you will need large index cards, one for each animal (don’t worry about the teacher) in the story, glue and markers. If you are not creative, you can use the printable templates found on DLTK (you will need to make them a bit smaller when you print so they fit on the cards).
On one half of the card have a picture of the animal from the story, and on the other half you will write the name of the color using that particular color ink (for example – the word ‘blue’ would be written in blue, “purple” would be written in purple). For a more advanced option, write all of the color words in the same color ink (preferably black). Once all of the cards are made, cut them in half so the animal is on one half, the word on the other.
To play, mix up the cards, then spread them face up on a flat surface. Have your child match each animal with its correct color word. You can also play a version of the game Memory by placing the cards face down, and having the child find the matching pair.
Gummy Bear Math
Using nothing more than a bag a Gummy Bears, you can work with your preschooler on all sorts of math skills including counting, estimating, sorting, patterns and even simple graphing. All of these can also be adjusted based on age and skill level.
Counting – have your preschooler count the number of gummies in a pile. Ask your preschooler to show you 5 bears, Ask her/him to count out 7 bears, etc.
Sorting – work on sorting the bears into groups based on color and/or number.
Patterns – make simple patterns with the bears then have the child tell you the pattern. Then, switch it up and ask the child to show you a pattern such as red, yellow, red, yellow.
Estimation – pull out a specific number of bears (keeping it under 5 to begin with) and ask the child how many they think are in the pile. Take it a bit further, pull out a large amount of bears, and have him/her estimate how many red bears, yellow, etc.
In the book, each animal is being asked What Do You See? This can be a great way to learn about our senses.
Brown Bear Color Tasting – this activity focuses on using the senses of taste, feel and smell in place of sight. Children will also make educated guesses.
You will need foods that are the same colors as the animals in the book. Try to get a sampling of food with a variety of textures, smells and tastes. Some examples are:
Brown – chocolate pudding, Hershey Kiss, brownie
Red – strawberry, cherry, a candy Red Hot
Yellow/Gold – cheese, banana, lemon
Blue – blueberries, blue M&M’s
Green – grapes, celery, lime Jello
White – milk, cream cheese, crustless bread
Black – black olive, jelly bean, Oreo
Purple – grape juice, jelly bean, Skittles
Blindfold the child and have them guess what each food is by using their sense of touch, smell and taste. Begin by telling them you are giving them a taste of a brown food, brown like the Bear in the book – do this for each color food.
First have them touch the food. As they touch it, ask leading questions such as is it hard or soft? Rough or smooth?
Next have them smell it (if possible) Ask them leading questions about how it smells.
Have them take a guess at this point.
Next, have them taste the food, then ask them if it tasted sweet, sour, bitter, etc.
Finally, ask if they can tell you what food it was.
Brown Bear Comes to Life – make stick puppets so your child can recreate the story whenever they want!
For this activity you will need to use the printable templates found at DTLK (same link as above; print in black and white) or make your own if you can draw. You will also need glue, craft sticks, a black marker and tissue paper (torn into small squares) in the same colors as the animals. I love using the tissue paper because the puppets turn out looking similar to the way Eric Carle illustrated them in the book. You can also use paints.
Cut out (or have your child do it, if they can) each animal you printed. Using the black marker, color in their eyes. Then let your child add the glue to the paper – this is a great opportunity to talk about how less can be more – and add the tissue paper squares on each animal using the appropriate colors. Once they have completely dried, glue a craft stick to the back of each animal.
Once the animals are completely dry, re-enact the story with your child using the puppets!