Little Bear, by Else Homelund Minarik
This is one of the sweetest chapter books around. Little Bear has been helping children make that transition from picture books to chapter books for over 20 years. Perhaps because of this, or because of my own fond memories of this book, I chose to use this book with my first graders this year. They handled the text well, and fell in love with this charming little bear along the way.
We worked with this book during our Guided Reading Block. We spend 3 days a week reading from our required basal. We spend the other 2 days a week using materials that I choose based on the children’s reading level. Therefore, we spent 2 days a week reading and discussing Little Bear’s adventures. The unit was organized over a five week period, one for each chapter in the book. The fifth week, we culminated our reading with a Reader’s Theater production of the book. The children chose which chapter they liked best and we broke into four groups. Each group decided how to present their chapter, assigned roles, wrote the script and made any necessary props. They practiced and we then invited parents, administrators, and other school personnel to see our show.
Introduction of Book/Chapter One
Chapter One was used to teach Problem/Solution. Preview the selection prior to reading and select 5 sightwords to focus on during Working with Words Block. Also select 5-6 vocabulary words that you feel will be difficult for your students to read. Be very selective as you do not want to take away an opportunity for them to practice their strategies. The sight words will be chanted and added to the word wall, so also be selective.
Prior to reading, introduce vocabulary using RIVET activity. Children are placed into groups to read the chapter. Set a purpose for reading ~ Everybody Read to Find Out What Happened to Little Bear One Winter Day. Children then work in group to read the chapter. They are told to focus on a problem that Little Bear had, and how he solved that problem. In discussions after reading, children identify the problem and what they felt was the solution. The next day, they reread the chapter and were given a long piece of white drawing paper. The paper is folded in half and one side is labeled Problem, the other Solution. The children work together to write about and illustrate the problem/solution.
Chapter Two was used to teach Sequence of Events. Again, choose 5 sight words and 5-6 vocabulary words. Follow same procedures for indtroucing and working with words. Begin a graphic organizer on chart paper with two columns – Character and What Did They Bring. Set purpose for reading ~ Everybody Read to Find Out Who Came to Little Bear’s Birthday. Children can be placed in different reading groups, or stay with the same group for the entire selection. Children read the chapter and list the characters that come to the party. They also list what each character brings. During discussions after reading, complete the graphic organizer as each group presents. The next day, the children can take a large piece of white drawing paper and fold into six boxes. They can number each box and write a sentence about and illustrate what each character brings.
Chapter Three was used to focus on Prediction. Again, choose 5 sight words, and 5-6 vocabulary words. Set purpose for reading ~ Everybody Read to Find Out if Little Bear Goes to the Moon. For a nice curriculum connection, during your Science lessons, you can learn about and discuss the moon. During after reading discussions, we discussed how Little Bear used his imagination in this chapter. The children also role played, making inferences, how Little Bear felt when he thought he was on the moon.
Chapter Four was used to teach both Prediction and Sequence of Events. Choose sight and vocabulary words. Prior to reading, children make predictions as to what Little Bear’s wish is. Begin a graphic organizer with headings – Little Bear’s Wish and What Happened. Set purpose for reading ~ Everybody Read to Find Out What Little Bear Wished For. Children read chapter and then go back and list the wishes and results. During after reading discussions, complete graphic organizer in sequence.
The final week of this Book Club was spent putting together a Reader’s Theater. The children were given index cards. They were told to write their name and list the chapter they would like to present. They were told to make a first and second choice. I then placed them into four groups, based on these choices. I made sure to have at least one strong reader/leader in each group. The children had to work together to decide how they would present their chapter ~ play, read aloud, puppet show, etc. They then had to assign roles, write scripts and make props. All four of my groups decided on puppet show. The scripts were simple, written on index cards. The puppets were also simple cut outs made from oak tag that were hand held. The puppet theater was made from a project display board. We cut out an opening and they sponge painted the board. We then placed material on for the curtain. The groups did a simple retelling/summary of the chapter. This was a wonderful assessment for me to measure comprehension. We made invitations and invited parents and staff members. We had a packed room, and the children did great. A nice culminating activity for this wonderful book.
When we were finished I put together a bulletin board display outside our room to showcase their work. The border was bears reading books and the caption was – Our Book Club. In the center of the board I placed a piece of oak tag which read – This Month’s Selection. From the computer, I printed in color the cover of the Little Bear book. This was glued onto the oak tag. I then had a few children work in a group to write book reviews of this book. 3 of these were mounted on the oak tag under the caption – Our Reviews. (2 gave it 5 stars, 1 gave it 1 star. He said it repeated too much.)
Around the oak tag on the bulletin board I displayed the group work they had completed when reading. There was one area with Problem/Solution, one with Sequence, one with Character Webs and one with the Predictions about Little Bear’s Wish. I added the invitation we had made to our Reader’s Theatre and stapled some of the puppets the children had made around the board. A very nice display of their work and they were very proud of it.