Peapod’s Picks is a regular(ish) post featuring books Peapod has been enjoying – from favourite board books, noisy books and busy books to bedtime stories and books with props from his story baskets.
I’ve written about Peapod’s Spot story basket before. This is another basket that he’s really loved and it’s another classic…
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury
Bear Hunt turned 30 last year and after all that time and now a channel 4 animation too, I can’t imagine there’s many people who are unfamiliar with it. It’s truly a children’s bookshelf staple, both in homes and schools.
However, one should never assume, so just in case –
A family set out to find a bear, encountering all manner of terrain and weather along the way. They joyfully swish, splash and squelch through it until they find a cage and…a bear!! A hasty retreat ensues!
This is an absolute joy of a book – rhythmic, onamatopaeic and repetitive, it’s a gift for getting children joining in.
The ending is clever in this respect too as it places its demands on your memory and speed and you can’t help but finish it feeling as full of laughter, exhilarated and ready to collapse as if you’d really been out in the elements bear-hunting!
The hunt itself has both a freedom and a nostalgia about it – family walks and days out in nature. And then there’s Helen Oxenbury’s delightful illustrations which capture this so perfectly. They are so expressive and the use of both colour and black and white imagery is really effective.
It’s a book which demands action, performance and movement! It was one of the first story sessions I did when I went back to work after Mat Leave last summer and I made it an interactive one with movement and fabric, sensory bottles and bags, actions and lots of joining in.
So with these in mind, it seemed like a good choice for one of Peapod’s story baskets. I didn’t do it straight away as he still seemed a bit little for it, and I’m glad I waited as in the last couple of months he’s got loads from this (not least the phrase “uh-oh”!) and loves telling the story with it.
For the long and wavy, swishy-swashy grass, we have paper pom poms…
The deep, cold river is some splishy, splashy metallic ribbons. There’s also a blue sensory bottle.
I have to be honest, there’s no mud! When I did it at storytime, we used bags of mud to squelch but I can’t leave those in his basket long-term, so it’s actions only fir this bit unless anyone has a better idea?!
For the big, dark forest, we’ve got some pinecones to feel and roll and tap together etc.
We use both a sensory bottle and sparkly white fabric for our swirling, whirling snowstorm.
And the narrow, gloomy cave is of course a large piece of black fabric, perfect for hiding under, peeking out of…
…and finding a Bear inside of course!
Peapod loves this – from looking independently at the book to listening to us read it to acting it out with us and playing with all the tactile elements, especially ‘splashing’ through the river and finding bear in the cave. It’s a firm favourite and one I can’t wait to read and play o ce he’s old enough to really join in with the words too!
It’s a classic for a reason – such great fun!