Teaching and learning

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt activities for the Early Years

8 fun Bear Hunt activities to bring the story to life
Group of children going on a bear hunt
April 19, 2024
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In a rush? Here's a quick breakdown:

  • It's a childhood favourite, and now the children can have even more fun with "We're Going on a Bear Hunt" themed activities.
  • Strengthen sensory development, physical development, motor skills, and more with these 8 activities.

"We're Going on a Bear Hunt" by Michael Rosen is one of the most celebrated books in children’s literature. A story about searching for a bear and facing multiple obstacles along the way - no wonder it's a childhood favourite!

With rhythmic and clear language, the book combines several concepts and skills in a repetitive style and expression. This creates the perfect setting for children to act along and take part in dramatic play. It's a great story to base activities off of that the kids will love.

With basic directions, descriptive words, and sequencing, "We're Going on a Bear Hunt" holds different concepts that encourage imagination and inspiration.

We're going on a bear hunt activities for the Early Years

Here are 8 "We're Going on a Bear Hunt" activities the kids will love

1. Swishy Swashy Sensory Spoons

Source: the imagination tree

Sensory spoon with the face of a bear

Sensory storytelling spoons or sticks are a perfect resource to bring the different places in the story to life. Children can join in with the tale by waving spoons and repeating phrases like “Swishy Swashy” from the book. Keep children interested by asking them to raise their spoon when the characters come to that part of the story, while you read the story aloud. For example, the child holding the mud spoon acts out the mud section of the Bear Hunt.

Required resources:

  • Wooden spoons or sticks
  • Paints (preferably washable!)
  • Cotton balls
  • Twigs
  • Aluminum foil
  • Various kinds of material (scraps of felt, ribbons, organza)
  • Markers
  • Glue
  • Scissors

How you do it:

This is a great sensory activity. The children start by cutting different stripes of green ribbons to create green flowy grass and glue them onto the spoon. You can use real twigs and branches from your garden and add some green felt to fashion the dark forest on the spoon. Create the swirling, whirling snowstorm by glueing cotton balls to the spoon, or use white glitter for extra sparkly snow. For the oozy mud, you could texture some brown paint, or add mud from your mud kitchen! The foil can be moulded to create the Bear's cave. Now you just need the Bear!  

2. Spot the Bear! 

Source: Buggy and Buddy
Source: Hands On As We Grow

Binoculars made out of roll tubes

When you go on your very own Bear Hunts, of course, you'll need the right tools. It’s a great way to explore and look for new hidden things in your surroundings through your very own binoculars. Children will love the creative process of crafting a tool in a simple yet innovative way.

Required resources:

  • 2 toilet paper or kitchen roll tubes
  • Glue
  • Tape
  • A hole punch
  • String or yarn
  • Paints
  • (Optional) stickers or decorations

How you do it:

Glue the two tubes side by side to create the basic binocular shape. You can also use tape to secure it. Punch two holes in the top right and left corner and use the string or yarn to tie around it for the strap. The children can decorate their binoculars with paint, stickers, or glitters. Once the binoculars are complete, it’s time to head out and search for the bear. Talk about what you can see through your binoculars as you explore. Watch out in the cave!

3. Thick, Oozy Mud

Girl playing with mud

Source: U-GRO

Sensory play in the Early Years supports children's developing sensory-motor and investigation skills. Encouraging the children to create mud also helps support understanding processes and mixing materials. Describe about the textures of the mud as children investigate it, introducing new vocabulary and making comments about how the mud feels. Walk them straight through the squelchy muddy tray like the family from We’re Going on a Bear Hunt while you read aloud - don't forget the squelchy-squirchy sound effects!

Required resources:

  • Baking soda
  • Water
  • Brown paint or food coloring

How you do it:

Doing experiments is one of the best methods of teaching and making mud is no different. Encourage the children to mix the baking soda and water until you get to the required mud-like consistency. Then just add some dark paint. The children can walk across the mud, acting out the muddy scene from the book, or grab some toys to squelch through the mud too.
You could, of course, just use real mud by mixing soil and water. What's more, real mud is free! You can also substitute the baking soda for flour or cornflour, and the paint for food colouring, if you're working with ages likely to try to eat their mud.

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4. Mission Impossible: Bear Hunt

Girl reading the Bear Hunt book

Source: Learn With Play at Home

An outdoor obstacle mission supports decision-making capabilities as children risk-assess, navigating how to safely conquer the course. In addition to being a sensory walk activity, the children are also strengthening their physical development and gross-motor skills by imitating the movements from "We're Going on a Bear Hunt."

Required resources:

  • Different spaces around your setting, according to the obstacles mentioned in the book.

How you do it:

Like the characters in the book stumble in the forest or tip-toe in the cave, encourage the children to imitate their movements as you read the story aloud. Walk or jog around a lawn, imagining long flowy grass. Take slow long steps in the muddy area copying the feeling of getting stuck. 

5. Who wants to be a Bear?

Bear masks made out of paper plate

Source: iheartCraftyThings

The bear in We’re Going on a Bear Hunt has two big googly eyes, a shiny wet nose, and two furry ears. Children can practice their fine motor skills as they draw the mask and bring the Bear from the book to life.

Required resources:

  • Paper plate
  • Some furry fabric
  • Cups
  • Paints
  • String or elastic
  • Pom poms
  • Scissors
  • Glue

How you do it:

Use the paper plates for the face and the cup for the shiny nose. To extend the activity, support the children to design the face themselves. Depending on age and ability, the children then cut two holes for the eyes and connect the string or elastic from both sides of the plate. The children are free to decorate their Bear masks however they choose. Once the mask is complete, you're ready to be the Bear.

6. From Bear Hunt to Scavenger Hunt

Children walking in the woods

Source: B-Inspired-Mama

You can customize scavenger hunts according to the children’s interests and abilities. Support the children to problem-solve and act out the Bear Hunt on a hunt of their own!

Required resources:

  • A map (of your garden or the setting)
  • Teddy bears
  • Clues
  • Cutout paw prints

How you do it:

Create an interesting map of your backyard or part of your setting where you can hide the bears easily. Next, give examples of how the children have to travel to each hidden bear, like tip-toeing, or making the "swishy-swashy" sound effect on the grass. Draw cutouts or print pictures of bear paws and put them near the hidden bear. Support children to work cooperatively to find all the bears!

7. It’s time to Splash & Splosh!

Boy playing with a bowl of water and red paint

Source: Wordsforlife

Water with different temperatures and textures improves sensory and motor skills in children. It also helps with cognitive benefits as your child experiments with new concepts such as floating and sinking.

Required resources:

  • A bowl
  • Water
  • Different toys

How you do it:

Fill the bowl with water and add blue paint to give it an ocean effect. Add a few toys and let your child move the animals creating splashing sounds as you read the book with characters crossing the river with a ‘splash splosh’. This helps the children create a connection with the characters. Add a few boats or ships that he can use to help the toys cross the river safely.

8. Real-world resources

Boy making art with items he collected in nature

Source: HomeGrown Friends

Children visually and physically learn being around nature, such as soft pointy grass or bright blue water, and much more. This activity encourages children to focus on the Bear Hunt story, both as they collect the items, and as they listen for the right line to add their material to their collage.

Required resources:

  • Cardboard (for the canvas)
  • Grass
  • Dirt
  • White glitter (as a snow substitute)
  • Water
  • Paintbrushes
  • Glue

How you do it:

Read aloud, encouraging the children to collect real items from the Bear Hunt from the garden, like mud or grass. Snow might be a bit tricky, depending on the season and where your setting is! The children can then use these items to create a collage of Bear Hunt art or a picture from the story. Begin to reread the book so that the children can start glueing their elements on the cardboard piece, in the order the family see them in the story. Whether the children make the collage in a sequence or blend all the natural obstacles, the experience will be unique.

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Please note: here at Famly we love sharing creative activities for you to try with the children at your setting, but you know them best. Take the time to consider adaptions you might need to make so these activities are accessible and developmentally appropriate for the children you work with. Just as you ordinarily would, conduct risk assessments for your children and your setting before undertaking new activities, and ensure you and your staff are following your own health and safety guidelines.

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