Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Eric Carle

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Eric Carle is such an amazing book with so many possibilities for activities for all ages. Eric Carle's work is easy to spot! His illustrations are done using hand painted paper that is collaged to form beautiful, bright images. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? is a very simple story with repetitive language that asks a variety of animals, "What do you see?" Babies will be attracted to bright illustrations, toddlers will love the repetitive phrases and the opportunity to practice animal sounds, and older children will also love learning about Carle's unique form of creating his picture book artwork. Here are some activities based on this beloved classic, and many of the activities can be transferred to other Eric Carle books as well, such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Very Lonely Firefly, The Grouchy Ladybug, and The Very Busy Spider.

Activity #1: Brown Bear Game
My two year old is getting a little big for walks in the stroller, but Mama needs her exercise and we both need the fresh air so I try to make the walks as entertaining as possible, which means we do a lot of talking about what we observe as we walk. I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to play a little game based on the book that we've read 5 million or so times. I start by saying, "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, what do you see? I see a _____looking at me." I fill in the blank with something that I see as we are walking, such as a green mailbox, yellow leaves, or a red fire hydrant. Then, after a little modeling from me, he repeats what I said and adds his own observation. Such as, "Green Mailbox, Green Mailbox, what do you see? I see a Blue Car looking at me." And so on. You can entertain a toddler for at least 30 minutes with this game. It's enough time to get in a little bit of a workout!

Activity #2: Animal Sounds
As you read the story, model for your child the different sounds that the animals make. Have your child repeat the sounds. Eventually, after many times reading the story, your child will be able to "read" the book along with you by making all the animal sounds.

Activity #3: Animal/Color Recognition
Read the story together with your child. Pause when you get to the line, "I see a (let your child fill in the blank) looking at me". Have your child look at the pictures to identify the "green frog" or the "blue horse".

Activity #4: Collage
Make your own collage artwork in the fashion of Eric Carle. Cut or tear tissue paper and glue the pieces together to create an image. For a young child you might draw a simple outline, such as a sun or a flower and have him/her  fill in the outline by gluing in the tissue paper. An older child can create his/her own images. You might also try to have your child paint his/her own paper and cut it, rather than using tissue paper.

Activity #5: Visit The Eric Carle Museum
If you are fortunate to live nearby, take a visit to the Eric Carle Museum in Amherst, Massachusetts.  There is a little something there for everyone including a gallery of artwork from Carle and other illustrators as well as a workshop where children can create their own artwork.

To see the entire list of activities based on books click here.

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