Actividades en torno al cuento Brown Bear para hacer en casa


Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see? es un libro muy usado en los colegios de países de habla inglesa. Presenta de forma sencilla y repetitiva los distintos colores y animales y, en este sentido, se convierte en un maravilloso recurso para las clases de inglés. A los niños, especialmente a los más pequeños, les encantan que les cuenten historias y cuentos. No se cansan de oir una y otra vez el mismo cuento, es más se sienten seguros al poder predecir que es lo que va a acontecer a continuación. El uso de este maravilloso libro en la clase de inglés permite:

– Enseñar los colores.

– Enseñar los nombres de varios animales.

– Conseguir que los niños de forma intuitiva sepan que en inglés la colocación adecuada es adjetivo-sustantivo (tras oír numerosas veces brown bear, red bird… cualquier otra combinación les sonaría mal, como les ocurre a los niños nativos)

– Familiarización de la pregunta-respuesta What do you see? I see…

En casa, los padres pueden colaborar con la tarea de enseñanza a través de distintas actividades, pero antes de comentarlas me gustaría compartir este maravilloso vídeo donde el autor del cuento Bill Martin Jr. lee la historia:

En mis clases de inglés realizamos muchas actividades en torno a este libro, pero hay muchas otras que pueden hacerse en casa para reforzar el conocimiento. Lo maravilloso de estas actividades es que sea cual sea el nivel de inglés de los padres pueden llevarse a cabo con los hijos y compartir con ellos el aprendizaje de otras lenguas. Aquí voy a presentar alguna de ellas:

El juego de las sombras

Imprime y plastifica las páginas 1 y 2. Imprime las páginas 3 y 4 y recorta las distintas piezas y plastifícalas.  Tu hijo juega con el puzle juntando cada animal con su correspondiente sombra, mientras puede decir los nombres de los animales que recuerda.

Nota: Es importante tener en cuenta que aunque los niños sepan reconocer los animales cuando escuchan los nombres en inglés es muy posible que no sepan nombrarlos inmediatamente. La fase de producción de las distintas palabras es mucho posterior y al hablar del aprendizaje de idiomas en niños se denomina “Silent period“, haciendo referencia a aquella etapa en la que los niños entienden pero no producen. De hecho, gran parte de la metodología moderna centrada en niños se basa en TPR (Total Physical Response), es decir, el profesor habla y los alumnos entienden y actúan (un ejemplo es el juego Simon Says). En mis clases me emociono cada vez que escucho a un niño “Estoy coloreando el brown bear“, porque eso significa que lo que saben decir en inglés lo utilizan y además en el lugar adecuado.

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El cuento y varios juegos interactivos

Pinchando en la imagen podéis encontrar:

– El cuento

– Actividades: puzles, juegos de memoria, unir la palabra y la imagen, crucigramas.

Using Kamishibai with the story Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?


Here is a video I recently took in one of my classes after working with this book for 5 weeks with two thirty minute classes a week.  It is a class of  twenty-five 4-5 year old children learning English in a public (state) school in Spain using Kamishibai theatre with Bill Martin Jr’s Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? Anything you think could be improved? Anything you particularly like? Comment section is open!


My ESL Brown bear: the activities


There are so many activities, lesson plans, teacher’s notes and ideas out there about Brown Bear that I have to admit that I am a bit overwhelmed. My first idea was to find activities around the book and try to gather them in one place, but if I did that…well, this would be the longest post ever! That’s why I have decided to choose 3 of the most popular activities that everybody uses around this story to include in this post. In the future, I plan to explore learning colours, animals and senses as thematic units and maths, music and art as cross-curricular areas, all using this book.

The Top Three Activities Using Brown Bear

1. BIG BOOKS AND MINI BOOKS: Here I refer to the book I use to tell the story and also to mini-books to take home.

Big books

Some teachers find it interesting to make their own big book to tell the story. With another book, I would be pro making your own, as it doesn’t cost so much and we can engage students in the process. In this case however, if it’s possible, I recommend buying Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see? big book edition, for one simple but colourful reason, the pictures. Eric Carle is an amazing artist and his collages are bright, colourful and inspiring for kids.

If you are interested in creating your own big book version have a look at this web site: The virtual vine

In my opinion, the best thing is to read the original book but to keep in mind that it’s possible to create other big books for the class using the same pattern but for other topics. I have found these great ideas:

  • Classmates book. Use photos of the students and their first name. It will go as follows:

– Peter, Peter, Who do you see?

-I see Ben looking at me.

– Ben, Ben, who do you see?

(You can find instructions and ideas in I love kindergarten)

  • Holidays book. Use the pattern to introduce or review special event vocabulary, such as:

– Pumpkin, pumpkin, what do you see?

– I see a witch looking at me.

– Witch, witch, what do you see?

  • Create your very own classroom version: Students can vary the original by changing the color of the animals or by changing the animals. You can find a lesson plan that develops this idea in Edschool.

– Pink fish, pink fish, what do you see?

– I see a green cat, looking at me.

– Green cat, green cat, what do you see?

All of these ideas will help to extend the story. I have made a predecodable and a decodable book version of the story for my students to learn how to read as the vocabulary is really simple and repetitive. Another idea is to create a version with the animals only and allow your students to extent it by adding a color for each animal. If they have already seen other adjectives such as sizes, they could also use them as follows:

– Big bear, big bear, what do you see?

– I see a small frog looking at me.

  • Any other topic: It can basically be used with any topic:

Farm animals: farmer, farmer, what do you see? I see a sheep looking at me.

Transportation: blue car, blue car, what do you see? I see a red truck looking at me.

You can find great comments from teachers telling about the big books that they prepare in class in Teacher’s net. You can find a lesson plan here Teachers.

Mini books

We can also make mini-books for children to take home or to leave in our library corner. Again we can just reproduce the original by coloring the pictures or create them around other topics. To make them you’re going to need the pictures of the animals. You can download black and white and color pages from DLTK

There are some ready made and ready to print mini books. You can find a nice one in Teacher’s love. Other books can be found in Hubbardscupboard, here you can download the pages to create an I see colors book and Teddy bear book.

I printed  the pictures from DLTK and every week I gave my students an animal to color. That session everything was related to that color, trying to find things in the class or items of clothes that matched. When we finished all the animals I stapled them together and printed a front page where students wrote their names. The example in the picture is with 4 year old students. They held them and “read-recite” (even if they can’t read, they knew it by heart) to their classmates during several sessions, sometimes in pairs and sometimes in small groups. The story planning concluded with students taking them home and showing their parents. They were really proud with their little version of our friendly brown bear! Their first English book!

2.  POCKET CHART. They seem to be very common in many schools and among teachers, but to be honest it doesn’t seem to be so popular here in Spain. I saw one for the first time last year when I received a second-hand one as a present. I find them extremely useful for any class, any subject and a must-have tool for a language class and I’m surprised that ESL books don’t come with one along with the course pack. Have a look at the ideas of using the pocket chart in the literacy class in The virtual vine.

Basically you can either buy one or you can make your own by laminating a big color cardboard. Then, stick strips of clear plastic from one side to the other, making the pockets with them.

Once you have the pocket chart you need the cards that you’re going to use with it. You can make them yourself or use some ready made. Some examples:

– The color, animal and picture of the animal together in Edschool.

– The picture of the animal and the name. AtoZ kids stuff card 1, card 2, card 3.

– Sight word cards. Teachers book bag.

– Pictures of the animals. You might need to reduce the size of them. DLTK.

– Names and picture cards. Edschool.

Color- Animal

I start with a really simple activity connecting the color and the animal. At the beginning, I place the color in the pocket chart and a student has to pick the correct animal. Later on, when they know how the pocket chart works, I say the color, one student picks the color card and places it in the pocket chart. Then, he or she picks the corresponding animal and places it next to the color. Finally, the student says the color and animal together. (Note: remember that the order of adjectives is especially important for Spanish learners. Place the adjective first like in the picture)

Continue reading

My ESL Brown Bear: the story


Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? is a very famous and must-read-book for native English  speakers. In many kindergarten and preschool classes, it is used to familiarize children with animals and colours. ESL teachers have realized the potential of this book for their students to acquire or learn (depending on their views) the language a long time ago. Brewster and Ellis in their book Tell it again! suggest six lessons, from introducing the main vocabulary to performing a rehearsal all of which are aimed at children in the 8-11 age group.

My idea is to start earlier than 8 and target Very Young Learners, by mixing  ideas from native speaker classes and ESL ideas. Every morning I see a 3 y.o. Spanish child repeating blue the very same  way he or she repeats azul, but I don’t hear no entiendo, hablas muy deprisa, ¿qué dices?( I don’t understand), as I would hear in my primary classes. They just wander around and use the same strategies to understand what I’m saying in English as they do with Spanish (their mother tongue). They are acquiring the languages in a similar way but with different amounts of exposure.

To start with and to get inspired I recommend watching an amazing video with Bill Martin Jr reading the book himself:

Bill Martin Jr. reads Brown bear, Brown bear, What Do You See?

I have listened to it at least a hundred times. Simply for the enjoyment of it and of course to better my storytelling skills while getting the rhythm and intonation to provide my students with a good model. As I’m not a native English speaker and as I didn’t grow up with this amazing literature, I’ve had to catch up quickly.

There are many activities, lesson plans, teacher’s notes and ideas out there about Brown Bear. What I want to do here is to try to put them together, organize them and also include plans not intended for ESL activities which actually can be used in ESL classes.

The story

Every morning I go to a kindergarten class (3 y.o or 4 y.olds) with my Brown Bear big book edition and perform the same routine. First of all, I arrange students (up to 25 kids) in a circle. I start showing the front page and ask them “who is our friend?” After a couple of sessions most of them can recognize and answer “Brown bear” as a chunk. I open the book, starting with the picture of the brown bear and I repeat, not just twice as it appears in the book, but up to ten times every colour-animal. Children like the rhythm and join in right away. I usually mark time with both hands clapping on my lap to mark the beats brown-bear, blue-horse, white-dog and so on. This helps Spanish students to realize that, as opposed to the Spanish language which is syllabic, English is a stressed timed language. As they are also learning the colours and animals in their mother tongue, often when you turn the page they eagerly say the name of the animal in Spanish, feeling really proud that they know it. I encourage it as they are making the following connection:

Oso- picture- brown bear (name in Spanish -picture of the animal- name in English)

The telling of the story goes as follows:

Teacher:  Brown bear, Brown bear, Brown bear,(children start joining in) Brown bear, Brown bear, Brown bear, Brown bear, Brown bear, what do you see? (finger below the eye)

Teacher: I see (finger below the eye) [turning page slowly creating suspense]

Children: Un pájaro

Teacher: Yes that’s right, it’s a bird, a red bird looking at me (hand on my chest)

Teacher: Red bird, red bird, (children start joining in) red bird, red bird, red bird, red bird, red bird, red bird, what do you see? (finger below the eye)

Teacher: I see (finger below the eye) [turning page slowly creating suspense]

Children: Un pato amarillo.

Teacher: Yes that’s right, it’s a duck, a yellow duck looking at me (hand on the chest)

(soon see and me are also repeated, and even some children can join you with the whole question, what do you see?)

When we finish the story and we are on the page with all the animals I ask them: Which is your favourite animal? In the first sessions they just point to their favourite animal and I say the name while pointing. After several sessions, some children can say the animal without pointing, and every session more and more students are capable to name their favourite animal.

To finish the storytime I go to the page with all the colours and I point to the colour, say the name and they repeat afterwards. As they have learnt colour-animal as a chunk, some students tend to say brown-bear or purple-cat, as the name of the colour, but after some sessions they realize that when I point to the colour I only say blue or brown and they just simply repeat it.

I have noticed the interference of Spanish when learning English in primary school children in several aspects:

– Tendency of reading English syllabically, which produces a really flat intonation, making it really difficult to understand what they’re saying.

– Word order changing as in Spanish the structure goes noun-adjective as opposed to adjective-noun.

– Difficulty using the auxiliary do when making a question.

This book gives them a model to avoid these problems later on. As colour-animal has been learnt as a chunk, it gives the learners native-like  intuitive sense of rightness. On the other hand, the structure what do you see? learnt as a chunk can be played with and transformed into: what do you hear, like, eat and so on in a later stage.

Have a look at My ESL Brown Bear: the activities