What is Teddy Bear Picnic, might you ask? Well, in the land of VanderMolen Kinder, we have our annual Teddy Bear Picnic with our students and their parents at the end of the month of August. The month of August is all about bears (reality) and teddy bears (fantasy). We do various bear activities such as real bears vs. pretend bears, we read the story of Corduroy & make our very own Corduroy, we use gummy bears to make a bar graph, Brown Bear activities, etc. etc. It is oodles of fun!
About half-way through the month of August, we send home a letter to the parents to ask for donations of gummy bears, teddy grahams, m & m's, water, juice, all the things we need to make our Teddy Bear theme & Picnic a success. Included in the letter is an invitation for parents & grandparents, to join us for a picnic. On this day, the students can bring their favorite teddy bear & the parents bring lunch for their child & themselves. The kids get super excited for their parents to have lunch with them! It is a great way to build community with our families here at VanderMolen.
Following the picnic, we bring all the kiddos (the PM kinders in my case) into one classroom to watch the Corduroy movie. Prior to starting the movie, we tell the students we are going to put our teddy bears down for a nap, they have had a long day already. The kids walk them over to a middle room (our work room) and put them down for a nap on a blanket we have in the work room. While the students are watching the movie, we have parents sneak the teddy bears out the next classroom's door so the students cannot see us removing their bears from their "nap." When the movie finishes, we send a student over to "wake" the bears up from their nap. Lo and behold, they discover the bears are gone!! However, the bears have left a clue! This then leads us on a bear hunt around the school. We usually get the librarian, the cafeteria ladies, the secretary, and the principal involved (we leave clues in those specific areas and they read the clues to our kiddos). The last clue leads us back to the Kindergarten playground, where the bears love to be most of all! The parents scattered the teddy bears all over the playground, on the jungle gym, swings, garden area, etc. The kids then run onto the playground and try to find their bear. It is great to see the kids faces as we are hunting for their bears & when they finally find them. I got some great footage of the hunt that I plan on using in my end of the year slide show.
Teddy Bears down for a nap
Following the bear hunt, all the kinder teachers on track teach an activity to one group of kids in their classroom (the students rotate to the classrooms, every 30 minutes). For example, I taught an art lesson, where the students made a teddy bear using brown paper plates as the belly, and I had my wonderful room mom prep the rest of the bear body. The other teachers taught a reading activity, math activity, and writing activity. The day was a success, but very very very exhausting! A lot of work went into planning & prepping this culminating day, but it was well worth it! The kids came to school on Monday saying how much they loved Teddy Bear Picnic Day & wished we could do it again :)