Bear Series: Creative Arts

Creative Arts projects support so much of the learning opportunities we provide children in our programs. 

When working in the visual arts, I encourage you to keep in mind the process needs to be at least as important for learning as the goal of a finished product. I happen to be more interested in the process than the product, but I also understand that children like to have “something” to take home. I help my families understand early on that that “something” doesn’t need to be finished to the level that adults often are looking for. To help keep adult expectations aligned with where children and your lessons are at you do need to explain to families how the process vs product works within your program.

I love to have a variety of supplies on hand so creative activities start with a purpose/direction and the children take it from there. I also love when I’m asked if they can do a creative activity of their own making. I hardly ever have a model for them to see or copy. I really want their creative works to reflect them, their interests and their desires. That isn’t always easy, as we all know how young children haven’t developed that sense of “enough – it’s time to stop”.

Creative for me doesn’t mean always using the expected art material and mediums. This “fur” painting was made with baking soda and vinegar. Typically Simple shares the basics here. I changed it up using our brown tempera paint.

I have small circular metal plates (recycled gift food can covers) that I like for painting projects. They were perfect for this. We mixed slightly thinned tempera paint and baking soda to have a paste. Then each child had a small container of vinegar they could pour into their cover. While I was using this for an art activity, it’s also a science experiment. Each child got to pour the vinegar in at the speed they wanted. Some poured a bit, painted and then poured and painted some more. Some even poured the vinegar onto the painted paper. Children explored how the paint differed through the activity. I was glad I had extra paper available as the curiosity of the children took this activity into exploring this paint on lots of other papers (including different types of paper). Some of the children also changed up the original bear project to be a stuffed bear. Anytime I have extra painted paper, we dry it and save for use at a later time. Some of these papers made great gingerbread creations at a later date.


It’s pretty easy to find visual art activities to use with Karma Wilson’s Bear series books, whether it’s making bear dens or maybe stick/shadow puppets for story retelling. Maybe you just make a stuffed bear, painting the paper to resemble fur first. Or maybe you build a snowy scene or background (for a den) similar to the opening pages of “Bear Snores On”. 

Think about dramatic play opportunities. Think back to building that bear den within your space. 

What about animal yoga poses?


Visual Arts is where I place activities for “Bear Sees Colors”. You could place it under early language, but when I think color I think visual arts. I enjoy sharing this book when I want to talk about colors with children. Each double page focuses on a color. 

Children can find multiple items found in natural environments that relate to that one color focused on. I also like that the colors include brown. This is not necessarily a common color in a “color’ book. 

A simple activity is to have children find examples of each color within the program and even better if you can explore the natural world around them. I like doing this outside color search at different times of the year.

I have used our iPad, allowing children to find items and them taking a photo of the item using the iPad. I have make what I call “Find It’ frames – cut 2 equal frames from heavy card stock and glue a laminate sleeve (you put through the laminator to get a sturdy clear sheet) in between the 2 frames. This gives you a tool that allows children to really focus on an area, rather than just looking around. You can also provide paint cards to children to have them match up to items. I organize a rainbow, including black/brown/white, of paint cards on keyrings that child can use to match up with.


For music, try singing this “HIBERNATION SONG” (sung to the tune of “Frere Jacques”)

Fill in the blank with an animal that hibernates. Use plural form.

________ are sleeping. ________ are sleeping.

All winter long! All winter long!

Sleeping all through winter is called hibernation.

They’re snug and warm. Snug and warm.

Creative Arts

“Creative expression allows a young child to engage in the world of their own imagination. It offers them an opportunity to express themselves in ways that are unique to them and to form an appreciation for the unique expressions of others. Fostering creativity in young children allows them to explore, examine and reflect upon their own individual form of creative expression. It also provides an opportunity for the Early Educator to gather information and insight into a child’s ideas, feelings, interests and individual learning styles and preferences.

Providing experiences such as music, movement, dance, dramatic play, and experimentation with a variety of art media, allows a child to explore the different dimensions of the creative arts.” 

Visual Arts:

  • Uses a variety of art- making tools
  • Shares art materials and begins to work with peers on a group artwork
  • Chooses artwork to display and keep based on personal preferences
  • Explores a variety of developmentally appropriate materials and media to create 2 and 3 dimensional artwork
  • Begins to use art materials safely and appropriately
  • Observes and discusses artwork created by both adults and children

Movement and Dance: 

  • Demonstrates awareness of body in space and moves with developing control 

Dramatic Expression:

  • Begins to use objects for other than their intended purpose during play
  • Begins to identify real and make- believe
  • Explores new and familiar situations through dramatic play 

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