Lesson Tutor:Theme of the Week: Bears K-6 Unit Study

Theme of the Week: Lions and Tigers and BEARS – OH MY!

A unit study on bears for grades K-6th

Belinda Mooney

From our favorite teddy bear to Smokey the Bear, everyone loves bears! In this unit study we will learn more about them. What they eat where they live and how they do what they do. We will read about bears, draw some bears, maybe do some bear crafts and maybe even have a Teddy bear Picnic!All bears have certain things in common. They are big and furry. They have live babies called cubs, which they nurse. They have very powerful legs. They eat a variety of things from nuts and berries to bugs and fish. They all belong to this family:

  • kingdom – Animalia
  • phylum – Chordata
  • class – Mammalia
  • order – Carnivora
  • family – Ursidae (the Latin word for bear)

How many different kinds of bears are there and what makes each kind special? There are 8 different species of bears. Below you’ll will find the different species listed. Click in the links to find all the facts and information about the bear you are interested in. 1. Brown and Grizzly Bears- Ursus arctos – Did you know these two bears are really the same species?  2. Polar Bears – (Ursus maritimus) -Do you like cold weather? Well Polar Bears do! And they have hair that is more like feathers than fur!  More facts and a


to color. 3. Giant Pandas – (Ailuropoda melanoleuca)- These bears were once placed in the same family as the raccoons!  4. Asiatic Black Bears – (Ursus thibetanus) -This bears Latin name means “Moon Bear of the Tibet”. Why do you think that is?  5. Spectacled Bears – (Tremarctos ornatus) -Is this bear really wearing glasses? There is a picture here: Spectacled bear, so look for yourself. 6. Sloth Bears – (Melursus ursinus) – This bear’s favorite snack is termites. Yum!  7. Sun Bears – (Helarctos malayanus) – This bear is the smallest and is also called the Honey bear.  BEAR MATH:

  • Use bear counters to do your adding and subtracting.
  • Have the kids bring in or gather up their teddy bears. (This could be quite a lot if your house is like mine!) Have them sort the bears according to size, hair color, etc.
  • Let them weigh and measure their bears. See who has the largest, smallest, heaviest, tallest.
  • Teach brown, black, white colors to younger children.
  • Cut bear shapes out of construction paper. Write a number on one set and dots on the other set. Have children match the numbers with the correct amount. You could also make bear shaped flash cards for any facts you are studying.
  • Use

    Goldilocks and the Three Bears

    to teach small, medium and large. Have these sizes of bowls and other things. Let them put them in order or match them.


    • This is a great time to do the letter “Bb”. Have the children glue buttons on blue or brown B’s.!)
    • Teach older kids the “ear” families. Bear, fear, tear, wear, near, rear, etc. Now is a good time to learn some color words. Brown, black and white especially.
    • Story Starters: Pretend you are a bear and write a story about your day in the woods.

If I were going to hibernate for the winter I would……

    • Review vocabulary words. Look them up in the dictionary and copy the definitions.

Here are a few to get you started add your own. Vocabulary Words: Grizzly, Teddy bear, Panda, Polar, Bamboo, Black, Soft, Fur, Cold, Brown Bear, North America.

    • Cut bear shapes out of construction paper. Write a letter on each shape. Make two sets. Have children match letters. This can be done with upper and lower case also.
    • Here are some flannel board fun ideas for preschool – 2nd grade .Read the book

      Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do you See?

      – by Bill Martin Jr. Now cut bears and animals that match the story out of felt. Then read this adaptation and put the animals up as you come to them. Let the children put up the pieces and retell the story to you!

Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see?  I see a blue bird looking at me. Blue bird, blue bird, what do you see? I see a black cat looking at me. Black cat black cat, what do you see? I see a green frog looking at me. Green frog, green frog, what do you see? I see a yellow duck looking at me. Yellow duck, yellow duck, what do you see? I see a red fish looking at me. Red fish, red fish, what do you see? I see some children looking at me. Books to read:


        • Mapping skills: Make cut-outs of the various species of bears, i.e. Brown Bear, American Black Bear, Asiatic Black Bear, Malayan Sun Bear, Polar Bear, Sloth Bear Spectacled Bear, etc. and have the student place them on the map in the animals natural habitat.
        • This is a good study to learn the continents with. Label them on a map.
        • · Label a map with the areas each bear lives in. Use a different map or color for each species of bear.
        • Compare and contrast the different species of bear using a Venn diagram.
        • Greek Mythology:
        • Atalanta, in Greek mythology, the daughter of Schoeneus of Boeotia or of Iasus of Arcadia. Her father abandoned her at birth because he was disappointed that she was not a boy. She was rescued and nursed by a she-bear and later raised by hunters.
        • Tell the story of Artemis, the ancient Greek goddess of the hunt and the moon and protector of women and children. Artemis was one of the principal goddesses of Greek mythology, daughter of Zeus and Leto and a hunter of bears.
        • · Find out who the Teddy bear is named after. (Theodore Roosevelt) Why is the teddy Bear named for him?
        • · Give a brief bio of President Theodore Roosevelt.
        • Add Mr. Roosevelt and the Teddy Bear to a timeline.-
        • Here is an original story about the Teddy Bear for you to read. Have your children copy portions for handwriting. You could also look for nouns, verbs and adjectives in the story.

The American History of the Teddy Bear

President Theodore Roosevelt was an avid sportsman and hunter. In 1902, he and several of his friends went on a hunting trip to Mississippi. While on the trip, some of them men captured a black bear and tied it to a tree for the President to await the President to shoot. When Roosevelt arrived and saw the pitiful creature tied to the tree, he refused to shoot it. He felt it would be unsportsman like for him to shoot a bear tied to a tree. When word got back to the press of President Roosevelt’s actions on the trip, Washington Post cartoonist, Clifford Barryman, put a cartoon on the front page of the Post. It was a picture of the President with his hand up; as if to say “Stop”, and his back turned to a tied up bear. The caption on the cartoon read, “Drawing the Line in Mississippi”. Rose Michtom; of Brooklyn, New York, had previously made some stuffed bears with black button eyes. Her husband, seizing the opportunity of the moment, placed two bears in the display window of his novelty shop. They were a big seller immediately! At the same time, a caterer for Roosevelt’s was looking for a suitable centerpiece for the tables at President Roosevelt’s daughters upcoming wedding. While in New York, the caterer happened upon the Michtom’s novelty store and saw the stuffed bears in the window. The bears had been outfitted in hunting and fishing gear, like President Roosevelt wore. The caterer decided that the bears would be perfect centerpieces for the wedding tables. At the reception, President Roosevelt was jokingly asked what species of bear the centerpieces were. President Roosevelt replied that they must be “Teddy Bears”. The attending press at the reception picked up the phrase, Teddy Bear, and mentioned it in their articles. Soon thereafter, Mr. Michtom wrote President Roosevelt and obtained his permission to call the bears, “Teddy Bears”. Mr. And Mrs. Michtom’s business soared with the new bears and soon their little novelty store had expanded, moved into a larger building and re-christened, The Ideal Novelty and Toy Company. Gina Sanders Copyright 1999~USED WITH PERMISSION.


          • Bear Cookie

You will need sugar cookie dough, cookie cutters in the shape of bears, cookie sheets, a small bowl, one can each chocolate and white frosting, and black food coloring. Take some of the white frosting and add the black coloring, mix well. Roll out sugar cookie dough and have children cut out bear shapes with a cookie cutter. Bake according to directions. When cool have children frost the cookie to make it their favorite kind of bear; brown, black, panda, or polar bears.

          • · Bear cupcakes – decorate cupcakes as bears: brown icing, smarties for eyes, chocolate buds for ears and nose. The kids loved these!!!!
          •  (Credit for the cookies & cupcake ideas goes to Brittany’s Daycare. Used with permission.)


          • Make a Bear Cave Diorama –Use a small cardboard box or a styrofoam meat tray as a base. The cave can be made by stapling or gluing a brown crumpled paper bag in place. You could also make a paper mache form and paint it brown,. Children can add bits of pine needles, twigs, moss, dirt, straw and rocks. A tiny scrap of furry cloth or small felt bear tucked in the cave to represent the bear is the final touch.
          • Make paper plate bears – attach a small plate (head) to a large plate (body). Children cut out of construction paper ears, arms and legs and glue on. They then use sponges to sponge brown paint all over. A face can be painted or drawn on.
          • Have the children make bear paw prints with finger paints.
          • · Panda bears. Use an outline of a bear and glue on black and white pieces of tissue paper. Let children cut or tear the paper into small pieces, before gluing.

SONGS Teddy Bear Teddy bear, teddy bear, turn around. Teddy bear, teddy bear, touch the ground. Teddy bear, teddy bear, read the news. Teddy bear, teddy bear, shine your shoes. Teddy bear, teddy bear, go upstairs. Teddy bear, teddy bear, say your prayers. Teddy bear, teddy bear, turn out the lights. Teddy bear, teddy bear, Say Good night! Here is a Cave Here is a cave. (Bend fingers to form cave) Inside is a bear. (Put thumb inside fingers) Now he comes out. (Thumb out) To get some fresh air. He stays out all summer  In sunshine and heat. He hunts in the forest For berries to eat. (Move thumb in circle) When snow starts to fall He hurries inside. His warm little cave (thumb in) And there he will hide. Snow covers the cave Like a fluffy white rug. (Cover with other hand) Inside the bear sleeps  All cozy and snug.

NOTE: A special thanks to Gina Sanders and Britt’s Daycare for their input and permission to use some of their ideas. Thank you, ladies!

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