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We all love to use books in the music classroom. Brown Bear Brown Bear is one of my favorites—and it has so many extensions! I am planning to do a bear themed unit in January, so I am trying to find some fun things to do. If you have some ideas for bear themed lessons, let me know in the comments!
This lesson includes a solo singing game, a book, and a rhythmic/composition extension my students have really enjoyed.
You can get the Brown Bear book here.
I also saw this version in one of our first grade teacher’s rooms this week. It’s about polar bears and it uses the same structure, but with endangered animals. I am planning to buy it soon.
Update: My kids loved this book! I did it the week after Brown Bear, and then we played animal sounds and tried to guess what they were. Hilarious.
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Also read: Free K-1 Music Lesson: It’s Raining and Que Llueva
You can level up your lesson by purchasing the accompanying activity on Teachers Pay Teachers. It includes a powerpoint of the lesson and the game direction, printable lesson plan, and printable animal cards to use if you don’t have stuffed animals! Get it here!
Brown Bear, Brown Bear lesson
- First off, read the Brown Bear book.
- Next, read the book while singing. I have seen a few different songs, but I have always used the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. You use the melody for “twinkle twinkle little star” for the words “brown bear, brown bear, what do you see?” and “how I wonder what you are” for “I see a white dog looking at me”. And it repeats over and over and over again.
- Read the book again, and have the students sing along with you if they have not already been singing with you.
- Then you can play the game!
- Get into a circle. Every student gets a stuffed animal (if you don’t have stuffed animals, then you can get the lesson and printable animal cards to go along with the lesson by clicking here!). I usually start holding a brown bear. Everyone sings the opening melody. Since I am holding the brown bear, then I get to sing, “I see a ______ looking at me.” I put a name of someone else’s animal in the blank. I put my animal in the middle. Everyone sings to the person who has the animal I called. Then that person picks another animal.
- For example: I am holding a brown bear. Everyone sings “Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see?” I sing, “I see a cheetah looking at me.” Everyone sings “Cheetah, cheetah, what do you see?” and the person with the cheetah sings, “I see a red bird looking at me.” And we keep going until all of the animals are in the circle.
- PS. I usually have the kids echo sing the animal names on sol-mi before we do the game. This is helpful, especially if you have any weird ones.
Also read: Free K-1 Music Lesson: Singing Voice v. Talking Voice
- You could stop there, but I usually take it a step further. I will put up rhythms. With kindergarten, we will use ta and titi. With first grade, I will use quarter note quarter rest, two quarter notes, and eighth notes quarter note. We will sort the animal by the rhythm of their name. So “brown bear” would be two quarter notes. We do this together once and then in groups after that. There are some discrepancies, so I always ask the kids the name of their animal. Because “bear” and “brown bear” have different rhythms, but they are not wrong.
- You could also use my Brown Bear Rhythm cards to play rhythms with instruments, or to match to the animals.
- Then we use the Brown Bear rhythm cards to have students compose new rhythms. I don’t like to use the actual animals, because composition is a little too free and I find they end up just playing with the animals. If your kids are more self sufficient, then you can try the animals and let me know how it goes!
I am working on a few more extension activities, but for now, this is it! That is a lot of content for just one book.
Also read: Free K-2 Music Lesson: Rhythm
I hope your students enjoy Brown Bear– mine love it and ask for it by name! I usually pull it out twice in the same year because it is so much fun… And I also use it as a solo singing assessment.
You can purchase the printable lesson, printable animal cards, and PowerPoint by clicking here!
You can get the book here.
And you can get 25 beanie babies off of Amazon here!
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And let us know what your favorite activities for Brown Bear are down in the comments! I would love some ideas!
8 thoughts on “Free Music Lesson: Brown Bear Brown Bear”
I love this! I just finished Going On a Bear Hunt and I love themed plans, so I wanted to incorporate this book into the next one. I have a question though. During the game, do you have them still sing in the melody of Twinkle, Twinkle? Or do you switch to just sol-mi?
We use the melody of Twinkle Twinkle. They are usually all able to sing it no problem!
I’ve been doing this game for a couple years with PreK through 1st grade. Usually works great as long as I don’t bring any pink or purple “girly” animals–those get fought over! 🙂 Can you clarify that after the child sings, they switch their animal for another one in the middle? So that they can have another turn in the game? Thanks so much!
Oh, I think I figured it out. You toss them into the circle as they are called so everyone can see which animals haven’t been sung about yet? Do you have trouble keeping the attention of the kids who have already had their turn?
Yes! When their turn is over, they put the animal in the middle so that we know they have already had a turn. It depends on the class– in most classes, they do a good job as long as they are continuing to sing. I have more trouble with the people who have not had a turn because they are often playing with the stuffed animals– which is completely understandable!
I love this idea! I don’t have any stuffed animals in my classroom as of now, so I’d love to see your animal cards. I don’t see a link to download the cards you mention though. Could you clarify? Thank you so much for sharing!!
Hey Alison! I am so sorry that I said something was linked but it was not. That is very frustrating. Anyway, I fixed it. I meant the Brown Bear rhythm cards, which you can purchase here: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Brown-Bear-Rhythm-Cards-4065641
Thanks for posting this, I think it sounds fabulous! I also like all the extensions that come out of it!