Thursday, 23 February 2012

We're Going on a Bear Hunt Messy Play Style...

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We're Going on a Bear Hunt

We're going on a Bear Hunt, it's going to be a messy one...

Bear Hunt Messy Play

So I mentioned before, how I'm always finding inspiration in our favourite bedtime stories. I love the idea of deepening a child's understanding of a story, using their playtime experiences to explore the concepts in what at first looks like a simple text. Ultimately we know children (and adults) learn better when their senses are engaged, which is why we point out pictures and put on funny voices when we're reading to them. 

I decided to turn one of Vinnie's favourite books 'We're Going on a Bear Hunt' by Michael Rosen into a sensory play session. The book is full of descriptive language... 

Bear Hunt Sensory Play

...'long wavy grass' - I'm pretty sure my friends think I'm nuts when I ask if I can come round to borrow their paper shredder, then fill up a carrier bag with the shreddings!

Preschool Storytime

...'a deep cold river' - I coloured some water blue, but as the container I used is brown (a recycled vegetable tray) I couldn't get a decent photo at all!

toddler messy play

...'thick oozy mud' - I thought about this one for a long time, my first thought was playdough, but I used that in the next tray and I wanted to give Vin a completely new texture to explore. I played around with flour and paste and coffee grinds, but in the end I mixed up a batch of chocolate Angel Delight (similar to chocolate pudding in the US) 

ece sensory play

'a big dark forest' of twigs and leaves sunk into some brown playdough 
(our coffee playdough from a while back)

'a swirling whirling snowstorm' - another batch of our Homemade Fake Snow*

'a narrow gloomy cave' - I had wild ideas of making a cave that Vin would actually have to reach into, but I couldn't pull it off as well as I'd envisaged. Instead we had a tray full of rocks and...

...'one shiny wet nose, two big furry ears, two big goggly eyes... it's a bear!'

here's his best 'uh-uh' face!

As I was setting up I kind of expected the contents of the trays probably wouldn't all stay where they were supposed to. What I was not expecting was the dumping of all of the trays into the water...

Interestingly the 'snow' absorbed all of the water and turned blue. Vin then tried looking for the water under the snow, which led to some science-y type conversations. We also got to talk about how the paper disintegrated and the sticks started getting mushy, but nothing happened to the rocks.

So we got to re-tell a bit of the story, before curiosity took over, but I love how this playtime went a completely different route and we got to talk about concepts I'd never have mentioned otherwise!

*ps since I wrote the original Fake Snow post a couple of people have mentioned the stuffing from nappies/diapers might be toxic. I did some research and couldn't find any conclusive argument either way. I spoke with a friend who is a biomedical research scientist, who said that old disposable nappies would have had toxic chemicals in, but that the eco-friendly compostible nappies I use would definitely not be toxic, unless the filling was consumed in large doses (he also mentioned that both oranges or bread can be toxic if consumed in large doses!) If you're still not keen you could crush up some icecubes in a blender or defrost your freezer like we did here.


  1. This is pretty awesome Mama!! I want to play ;-)

  2. so fun! i bet my bear would love something like this! i pinned it!

  3. Such a fantastic idea! I'll be thinking more carefully now when reading bedtime stories :-) Lucy

  4. Great job! It is wonderful to help your child to love books! Happy reading!

  5. So AWESOME! I love how you brought the story to life. Found you on Pinterest!

    Creative and Curious Kids!

  6. What a great idea, my 2 year old will love this. It's always great to find activities based on a good book.

  7. What a fab idea. We love this story! Time to start planning and finding resources!
    Thank you for sharing!

  8. Thanks for sharing on our LOVE BOOKS link up. I love how you are encourage our senses to explore this already enjoyable book!

  9. Amazing! I will do this with my son, I know he will love it. X

  10. Wow, that looks like so much fun, and i love how it turned to science discussion.

    Thanks for linking to Fun Sparks. xx

  11. You could try rice for snow :)

  12. What an awesome go along activity!! Love that it is so interactive!

  13. That's so cute. What a great mom you are! And your blog is fantastic! I posted a link to this post of yours on my blog if you're interested to see it:

  14. I am sharing this with my co-worker who just read the Going on a Bear Hunt to her class...they did the audio book and acted out the adventure. Love the creativity. I have an idea on the cave...old refrigerator box (pick it up for free at retail store!) then cut out a door using a black fabric over the opening, paint the inside and make a felt/fleece bear with glow in the dark giggle eyes to attach to back side. (I actually used this idea to make a solar system viewing booth when my daughter was in kindergarten. she painted the box)

    Misty in WV, USA


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