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A closer look at the 1 book all teachers NEED, 'we're going on a bear hunt'

Updated: Jul 23, 2022

Whether you are starting teaching in early childhood or trying to streamline after years of teaching like I was, then there are some book titles you will NEED. I will cover my number 1 in this BLOG and share the ways I have extended on the book and why I LOVE it.

Here are my 10, I have them in my 42 litre group times container . I have owned more than 4 copies of each over my 20 plus years of teaching and am a huge fan of board books now as they are harder wearing and last longer.

2. Dear zoo

3. The very hungry caterpillar

4. Gruffalo

5. Owl babies

6. The rainbow fish

7. The 3 little pigs

8. Tiger who came to tea

9. Colour monster

10. Giraffes can’t dance

For years I just read them. Well, just reading them for me did also include the art of storytelling and props in group times. In recent years I have used them for more hands-on play and invitations. This all stared with story baskets. I made my first one when I became a teacher and had almost forgotten about them until I met Lee.

Lee loved stories… but struggled to listen from start to end. And yet his play was rich with retelling his favourite story We’re going on a bear hunt. This could have been to do with the outside singing adventures we went on to ‘catch a bear’.

I had purchased a sticker book for the book and set about making props with wooden spoons as the children were really into rhyming spoons. It was then that I recalled using a basket to display a book and props to invite the children to play and tell a story 20+ years ago. I grabbed a cheap Kmart basket, a few cloths, the book and added the props.

I role modeled using the story basket (not reading the book) in a small group as I intended to leave it for the children to engage with. This was when the magic happened, Lee stayed for the entire story.

Not only did she stay she was also an active participant which was a first. I then shared the story basket in a large group session (the book is also in te reo Maaori) and Lee was just as engaged. The children loved retelling the story on their own and with others. They enjoyed it some much that I set up a small world and all the items without the book on a table.

I did notice that the cloths ended up everywhere expect in the story basket and had to rethink them (a rookie mistake). This was when I decided to try one cloth at the bottom of the basket and add other textures which could be material too. The cloth on the bottom brought the basket together and is now a key component of every story basket I make.

I had more stickers from the book and decided to make some story disks. Like the spoons I used mod podge to attach and seal them on. With my new thinking on using one cloth as a stage or foundation I set out the story basket. The cloth did bring the basket together visually and with the play.

I wanted to create a larger play area for the children and was able to after I purchased a tuff tray and used it and a large pot plant saucer (with water in it).

During the 7 day challenge a teacher (Liz Neill) shared crochet circles for the different spaces that the children explore to find the bear and I LOVED them. I was cheeky and asked if I could get some and did!

Rather than using my spoons or wooden disks I decided to make some story stones with a photocopy of the stickers. My latest obsession and 5th story to make them for. I used them in a story basket, on a table top, the children used them on the floor and finally I used them in a tuff tray.

The crochet circles were a little small in the tuff tray so I grabbed some placemats and (an acrylic mirror) used them instead. The offered great texture like the crocheted circles but on a larger scale.

On another day I used images of the children (laminated and slotted into a block). We have a cat that visits and I took a photo to include him instead of the dog. Adding the children to the play saw richer stories from real and imagined adventures being shared.

Recently I used my story stones in a storytelling suitcase. A suitcase offers more space for items and children to gather. It is a smaller than a tuff tray but also great inside or outside.

1. We’re going on a bear hunt

It’s number one as all age groups love it! It can be extended to support children in so many ways and curriculum areas. BUT it is my number one as it offers opportunities to connect with children and children to connect with each other in playful ways that support belonging and community.

From going outdoors with saying or singing the book to having sensory walks, sensory bottles, sensory bottles on a light table (yet to do but Charlotte Read shared her teams) and story baskets it can be brought to life for and with children.

A BONUS is that if the children are interested in dinosaurs or bugs or anything else you can go on a 'hunt' for them.

My next project is to make a felt playmat for "we're going on a .... hunt!"

Until next time


P.S. there are links to my BLOGS and mini-courses + affliate links (NZ & Australia) and if you use them I may get some moolah.

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