Showing posts with label We're Going on a Bear Hunt. Show all posts
Showing posts with label We're Going on a Bear Hunt. Show all posts

Monday, January 21, 2013

Top Five Posts at Picture Books & Pirouettes


A lot of creative movement teachers have "circle time" at the beginning of class to give the children a chance to share any special thoughts they have before class and to help set up a structure and collaborative tone for the rest of the class. Over at the incredible dance resource Dance Advantage, Nichelle established a circle time of her own a few months ago so her readers could also share their thoughts on a variety of dance topics.

This month, Nichelle is asking bloggers to describe five top posts from their own blogs and why those posts "rock." This sounded like a fun exercise, especially since I haven't spent too much time reflecting on how Picture Books & Pirouettes has evolved since I started it. Here's a bit of what I had to say about the blog in my very first post back in August 2010...

My plan is to blog about a wide variety of picture books that are in some way related to dance...And, since I am still new to this whole blog thing, I'm not yet sure what other directions it might take...

It is reassuring to look back at this and realize I have stuck to my plan of blogging about picture books related to dance. But now -- 122 posts later -- it is also rewarding to be able to highlight a couple of those "other directions" my blog has taken in the last two and a half years...




This post describes the picture book Miss Tutu's Star by Leslea Newman and Carey Armstrong-Ellis. The book is such a wonderful combination of poetry, humor, sweetness, and dance. It introduced me to an author and an illustrator I hadn't heard of before and has become one of my favorite picture books with a dance theme. 



This post about the picture book Drumbeat In Our Feet was one of my most personal posts, as the book reminded me of some of my own life experiences related to Africa and African dance. It also resonated with some of my readers and elicited comments from people I don't often hear from through my blog. 

We're Dancing on a Bear Hunt! 
(September 2011)


One of my favorite "other directions" the blog has taken is my monthly collaboration with Maria's Movers. For "Read It. Move It. Share It," each month I recommend a book for Maria to use in her creative movement classes, and then we share our experiences with the book. We're Going on a Bear Hunt turned out to be a popular book among dance teachers, and I love how Maria used it in her classes!

Read & Romp Roundup 
(January 2012)


Exactly a year ago, I started hosting a monthly roundup of blog posts related to both picture books or children's poetry AND dance, yoga, or other forms of movement. I was really happy with the response, especially among other bloggers who integrate children's literature and the arts. I love interacting with others who share my passions, so I would have to say that the inaugural "Read & Romp Roundup" is another of my favorite posts!



I've had the privilege of interviewing several amazing children's book authors on my blog, but my interview with Allegra Kent stands out in my mind. It is the only interview that I've conducted over the phone (rather than over email) for the blog, and I so enjoyed learning in person more about Allegra's history as a Balanchine ballerina and how she became the author of her debut picture book Ballerina Swan. 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

We're Dancing on a Bear Hunt!

Read It. Move It. Share It.
Each month I recommend a picture book for Maria Hanley--dance educator extraordinaire in New York City--to incorporate into her creative movement classes. Our September pick is We're Going on a Bear Hunt, written by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury. When you're done reading more about the book, don't forget to check out Maria's blog to see how she used it in her classes. 


I still remember sitting in a big circle at summer camp, clapping one hand and then the other against my thighs and stamping my feet against the floor as our fearless leader took us on an adventurous bear hunt when I was a kid. Through fields of grass, thick mud, and dark forests we went, searching far and wide for that one elusive bear. Does this sound familiar to you, too?

Well, when I saw the picture book We're Going on a Bear Hunt for the first time earlier this year, this childhood memory came flooding back...not so much because of the actions we did during the bear hunt, but because of how exhilarating it was to play the game. And even though we were sitting in one place, it still included a lot of movement, which I'm sure was another reason I had so much fun with it.

I can't remember the exact words to the game I played, and I'm sure there are many versions. Here's a very expressive Michael Rosen reciting his version--the version that he created for the book. You can see from the video that the text of the book is full of rhythm and fun sounds that could easily inspire movement, as they do for Rosen himself.



Although the words to the book are what inspire the movement for me, the book wouldn't be what it is without the beautiful drawings of Helen Oxenbury. She was able to depict the characters in the book any which way she wanted, and she chose to draw them as five members of a family. I recently found out that the five characters are actually siblings, but many readers think they are a father and his four children. Either way, I think this depiction is especially nice for young children, who will likely be "reading" this book alongside other family members of their own.

However you interpret the illustrations, what's especially unique about them is that they alternate between black-and-white ones and full-color ones. Oxenbury uses black and white for the pages with the refrain (which, for the most part, is every other spread). This is for the moments when the family has yet to find out what the next obstacle on their bear hunt will be. Then she uses color for the more active pages, when the family trudges through grass, a river, mud, and even a snowstorm.

We're Going on a Bear Hunt was first published in 1989, which makes it about 22 years old today. Because this was after my summer camp days, I wonder how old the bear game actually is and what its origins are. Hmmm. Regardless, I'm very happy that it was adapted into a book so that many more kids could experience the exhilaration of those summer bear hunts I used to go on. And, I'm happy that it was adapted into a book so that dance educators could use it, too. You can see how Maria used it in her classes here.

Before I go, I also wanted to let you know about an extremely charming video interview with Helen Oxenbury over at Reading Rockets. It includes a heartwarming story about how Oxenbury's father encouraged her to go to art school and how she approached illustrating several of her most popular books, including We're Going on a Bear Hunt. I highly recommend it.

And, finally, here are a couple of lesson plans I found to go along with the book...in case you teach young children or want to incorporate some of the plans into your reading time at home.
  • These teaching materials from the San Diego County Office of Education, created as part of the Schools of California Online Resources for Educators (SCORE) Project, include a variety of activities to help students learn more about bears.
  • And here are some lesson plans from Scholastic that incorporate elements of the story into dramatic play and other preschool activities. 

This post is also part of Read-Aloud Thursday, which is a weekly opportunity for bloggers to share some of their favorite family-friendly read-aloud books. It's hosted over at Hope Is the Word, where teacher turned stay-at-home mom Amy blogs about home education, parenting, and books. Check it out!
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