We’re Going on a Bear Hunt Sensory Tray

We re Going on a Bear Hunt Sensory Tray | Mama Papa Bubba{this post contains affiliate links}

This week’s book club book, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen, is a book that Miss G and I both knew, but not one we absolutely loved previously.  Well, that changed this week.  As soon as we watched the video of Michael Rosen performing his story, we couldn’t get enough.

Such a fun story, right?!  Sometimes hearing the rhythm of a story as the author intended it to be makes all the difference.  {I feel the same way about some of the Pete the Cat books – knowing the tunes of all of the singsongy parts makes the books SO much better!  Well, for my non-musical self, at least.}

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After reading the story several times throughout the week, Miss G and I gathered some markers and some paper and set out to record all of the obstacles the family faced while on their hunt for a bear.  Our plan was to then use the list to create a We’re Going on a Bear Hunt sensory tray that would be perfect for pretend play and reenacting the story afterwards.

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As I read, Miss G would stop me every couple of pages so we could add the next obstacle to our list.  During the process, I modelled list making and beginning writing skills, she eagerly helped me with letter sounds and drew a quick picture to go with each word.

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Here’s what our list looked like  when we’d finished reading the story.  {The bear is my favourite, by far – hah!}

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At this point, we were ready to begin creating our sensory tray, so Grae went and retrieved the free We’re Going on a Bear Hunt puppets we’d printed and laminated a few days ago.  When I originally thought of this activity, I envisioned us using a bear figurine and LEGO or DUPLO people for the family members, but the printable puppets from Early Learning HQ were too good not to use!

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Then it was time to gather up materials to represent each of the nature obstacles the family had encountered on their adventure.  We used things we already had on hand and came up with paper Easter grass for the grass, blue and aqua waterbeds for the river, some potting soil mixed with a teensy bit of water for the mud, miniature pine trees for the forest, cotton balls and white pompoms for the snow, and a piece of brown construction paper folded in half for the cave.  We also retrieved some play dough to help hold things down where needed.

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Then it was time to build our sensory tray!  Truthfully, Miss G was able to do most of the building, with me sort of guiding how much space each of the 6 obstacles should take up on our tray.

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The play dough was a huge help and we ended up using it under the grass, on the forest floor, and underneath the cave too.

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The water beads, mud, and cotton were simply set in place without anything underneath.

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Grae worked hard on putting her sensory tray together and especially loved adding some iridescent stars to the snow.

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I helped her finish things off by shaping the construction paper into an arch shape and securing it in some play dough, and our final step was adding a little bit more grass outside of the cave to make everything look complete.

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Using another chunk of our handy play dough, we placed our bear inside his cave.

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Then Gracen double checked our work to make sure everything was in the correct order and we hadn’t forgotten anything.

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With her stamp of approval, our tray was ready for play!

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She positioned the family members for the start of their adventure…

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And then asked me to begin reading the book.

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As I read, she used the characters to act out the story on the sensory tray.

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She was having a total blast, but when we got to the part where they run home and climb into bed, she realized that we hadn’t created a bed or a home for the family.  Quick on our toes, I gathered some building planks to serve as walls, and she grabbed one of the beds from her bookshelf dollhouse.

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Luckily, we made it just in time and our family members were all safely in bed before the big bear arrived. ;)

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Afterwards, I asked if she would like the story read again, and she responded with, ‘No.  I just want to play now.’ {Fair enough!}

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And that’s what she did.  In fact, she’s played with our sensory tray a ton since making it – sometimes acting out the story as it was written, and making up her own stories to go with the props other times.  The only thing I’d say about the way we created our sensory tray is that the actual mud probably isn’t the best option if you want to leave the tray out and use it again and again.  We played with ours for a few days, but the mud does tend to get all over everything, so dark brown play dough may be a better mud option if you’re looking for the activity to last.



Alright, with that… Ready for some other really fun We’re Going on a Bear Hunt inspired activities?  Check out what our friends came up with:


Bear Book Club

sensory collages     |     paper bag puppets     |     map & binoculars     |     edible bear puppets 

Want to try a little preschool book club of your own?  See the entire series here.



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5 thoughts on “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt Sensory Tray

  1. Oh we love this book! James recites the part of tiptoeing into the cave and finding the bear. I think he would really enjoy a sensory play of this book. Thanks so much for the idea!

  2. I love this!! Will be using in my preschool class. I was wondering if the play dough pictured is homemade and if you could share the recipe? I love the natural color of it. Thanks!

  3. This is such a wonderful idea! We are doing Bear Hunt in 2 weeks and I know this will be a big hit with my 2 1/2 yr. old class. I plan to make several of these so there won’t be an issue with sharing! Thanks so much

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