Did you ever have a unit that could go on forever and never run out of ideas? Bears and camping is just one of those units for me. There are so many great things to do that I always feel guilty about some of the great ideas I just don't have time for.
Each child brought a "bear buddy" to spend the week with us. We began our week singing and reading one of our favorites, "Going On A Bear Hunt". This activity was repeated many times throughout the week, by popular request (or more accurately, threat of pre-k lynch mob) sometimes at our spots, sometimes moving around the room, using little obstacles like balance beams and beanbags.
Colored counting bears are pretty much a standard in every pre-k classroom I've ever been in. We talked about the colors of the bears and the sizes ( I do have a special set that has small, medium and large). We sorted by color. We weighed and compared bears.
One of our favorite free creative movement songs is the "Gummy Bear Song" that one of my kids sent me last year. It's sort of a techno mix and the kids get more movement out dancing to that song than most of the rest of our day combined, and we're a pretty busy bunch! Our bears even danced with us a few times.
(Note: I've never played the video for the kids just the song on cd.)
We learned how to make a graph with gummy bears. Quite a challenge, but lots of fun. I know that is is something that takes lots of practice, and we'll do a lot more this year. For now, my main goal was to let them place the gummy bears on the correct location on the grid.
We talked noticed who had a lot or none of a particular color and which color we each had the most of. I've been in classrooms where this particular activity is a quiet one and the students are expected to listen, but this is not a quiet activity in my class. We talk a lot about our graphs and we speak out occasionally, but we are using this as a language experience as well. We did attempt to record the data, and some of them did pretty well, but I wasn't concerned with them getting every box colored correctly. Our goal was to understand the experience and to use language to further our understanding. Besides, we were excited to eat the results!
We wrote our very own camping story to read while we "camped out".
We took our bears outdoors and hung out and played. Sometimes, we just read a story to our bears.
We made binoculars using recycled tubes and tried them out on a nature walk. We also put a piece of masking tape around our wrists sticky side out and set out to "see what we could see". After we came back, we shared some of the things we found and saw along the way.
We practiced making shapes with toothpicks and mini marshmallows. I get such a kick out of their "discovering" how to make a square or triangle. Most of the shapes are pretty simple, but they also made a pentagon, hexagon, some 3 dimensional shapes, a star and even a chain!
We read many versions of "Goldilocks and the 3 Bears". The friends role played the story with dolls in the dollhouse center.
One of my favorite Goldilocks activities is to have the students take turns acting out the story. Last year, the group I had doing this activity really did a great job and were so animated. I have several siblings of those classmates this year and have been excited to have them repeat this activity to see how they do.
This little friend reprised her sister's role as Goldilocks!
We had a teddy bear picnic in our pjs with Honeycomb cereal, Goldfish crackers, Teddy Grahams and Honey Bear cookies. We sorted and patterned before the more serious work of eating our bear snacks.
We made these cute bear headbands from circles and decorated the faces. This one just struck me with it's simplicity. It's "just right", as Goldilocks would say!
No camping adventure could possibly be complete without making s'mores. They're oogey, gooey treats that are almost as much fun to make as they are to eat. S'mores make a wonderful lesson on introducing changing states of matter. After we microwaved our s'mores, we discussed the changes in the marshmallows and chocolate. And then, of course, we ate them up!