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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.
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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 download my stuffed animal cards 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.
- 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 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!