Books on animals are always a good choice to read with young kids. Children are familiar with a large number of animals as they have visited the zoo, watched TV shows, listened to oral story telling and read books on animals…
For this week’s activity, I selected the book “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ by Michael Rosen. All the kids in my group were English Language Learners. They had strong language skills in their mother tongue but were at varying stages of learning English. The book was a perfect choice because of its repetitive text, and the simple, clear illustrations. The central idea of going on an animal hunt was catchy and yet age appropriate.
After pre-reading the book, I selected the vocabulary words—the three prepositions which repeatedly appear in the book—over, under and through. We set up props in different stations and the children had to climb over the jellyfish, crawl under the chair and jump through the hoop. The motor activity prepared them to sit for the book reading.
I read the title of the book, “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.” Together the kids and I tried to find answers to the following questions by looking at the book cover. These questions helped us predict what the book was about.
Who was going on the bear hunt? (The family)
What are they going to do? (look for a bear)
Where will they go? (Forest/zoo)
Where will they find the bear? (Cave/cage)
The title had an unfamiliar vocabulary word ‘hunt’. The five year old connected it to a different story he had read and said, “It means they are going to shoot the bear and put it in the zoo.” We looked at the illustrations to see how the family was dressed and if they were indeed going to capture the bear. I explained to them that in this context ‘hunt’ meant that the family was going to look for a bear. One by one the kids identified instances where they had to look or ‘hunt’ for something (from missing shoes to water bottles to pencil cases).
Next, the kids made personal connections to their lives. I modeled this by thinking aloud, “This family reminds me of my family. I have a mama and a papa, a big brother, and a big sister. There are five of us in my family.” Immediately after, the children identified the members of their family and compared the number of children, “In my family we are only two children but there are three in the book.” “I have only a sister, I don’t have a brother.”
We began to read the book aloud. As the family came to each crossing, we reviewed the vocabulary word and labeled grass, river, mud, snow storm and forest in their native tongues.
The children looked at the illustrations to see what happened to the family after walking through. For example their clothes were wet after crossing the river, they had mud on their boots after walking through the mud and …
After the read aloud, the kids practiced climbing over, crawling under and walking through the props once more. Lastly, they tiptoed to the ‘cave’ and peeked in to see the bear.
The last activity tied in the reading with writing. The children drew a picture of their family going on an animal hunt. Can you guess what animals they are going in search of?