We’re Going on a Bear Hunt: 25th Anniversary

Without a shadow of a doubt the most useful picture book we have owned is We’re Going on a Bear Hunt. I’ve taken it on days out to museums, on holiday and we have themed whole days at home around it. Can you believe its actually 25 years old this year! That makes me feel very old indeed, but it shows how a really great story can seem fresh and new years after it was written.

Have a look at Michael and Helen talking about the making of the book at the Walker Books HQ:
http://www.theguardian.com/books/video/2014/apr/10/we-re-going-on-a-bear-hunt-michael-rosen-helen-oxenbury-video

One of the brilliant things about We’re Going on a Bear Hunt is that you can use it in so many different settings. For us, one of the best places to use it is in a museum or art gallery. We have taken it to a variety of museums across the UK pretending that each gallery is one of the areas they are hunting, e.g. swishy swashy grass and trying to find bears in artifacts, paintings and architecture.

Squelch, Squerch…

Most memorable was a trip across the salt marshes in North Norfolk where we genuinely squelched through the mud. Whenever I read that part of the story with Helen Oxenbury’s beautiful illustration I’m reminded of my eldest two children being really tiny and Squelch – Squerching. The illustration has a real feel of the salt marshes about it, I don’t know if they inspired her!

Is it there?

I find it really helpful to give children a little bit of purpose when we are out and about on our day trips and We’re Going on a Bear Hunt is so useful because the idea of a journey to find something translates so well to so many different situations. Of course, the main thing is the emotions involved, the fear, happiness, worry, love and comfort and how we value each other as a family. It’s a brilliant way of introducing these ideas and talking about them along the way, I’m convinced a subtle approach to effectively, comprehension and analysis whilst we are out and about has benefited my children no end.

Ned’s teddy hiding in the long grass

In order to celebrate the anniversary I decided to hold a little tea party where the children were tasked with finding bears in each of the habitats mentioned. I know this didn’t happen in the book, but I wanted to do something a little different to usual and get them hunting the house and garden with a real purpose. I don’t think they expected to find Ned’s teddy amongst other bears!

If you want your children to learn a story with you for saying together on a car journey, or just when you’re having a bit of family fun then We’re Going on a Bear Hunt is definitely the one to go for. I first learnt it by heart when the eldest boy was about 2 and I think I’ve used it at least once a week in various circumstances ever since. It never fails to amuse, distract and bring joy.

If you’re wondering what I’m talking about have a little look at Michael Rosen enthusiastically performing it and I’d love to see your efforts if you think you can do better!

Congratulations and thank you to Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury for such a wonderful children’s classic. Walker Books are celebrating the anniversary with some wonderful special editions of the book. There is a card version which is absolutely perfect for a new baby gift, or a slightly larger picture book, you’ll find them on line or at all good bookstores. Do make sure you have a look at the special website and join the bear hunt where you’ll find loads of activities and things of interest.

3 Responses

  1. @unpreparedmum 3rd May 2014 / 12:22 pm

    Gosh this takes me back to being a child and doing this in the assembly hall at junior school!

  2. Richmond Mummy 3rd May 2014 / 1:41 pm

    Absolutely love this book and my girls really loved the live theatre production too. We are off to Norfolk in June for the first time and I'm totally going to steal your idea of staging a bear hunt out on a day trip one day on our holiday. Happy birthday bear hunt! X

  3. Sammy 6th May 2014 / 9:21 am

    It's an amazing book that we all love and you're completely right about how it can be adapted, we used to use a local olive grove for our wood when we lived in Italy. We went to see the puppet show by the Little Angel Theatre at Christmas which was magical.

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