Bear Series: Math

“Young children are natural mathematicians. Even as infants and young toddlers they engage in matching and sorting activities. Children age three to five are eager to learn the role of math in everyday life, and benefit from rich learning environments and adults who introduce important concepts and content to them. This approach supports an appreciation for math and gives the young child a foundation in math which builds upon their natural curiosity and desire to learn.” 

Mathematical Practices:

  • Develops positive attitudes about math
  • Participates in whole group and small group math-focused activities
  • Recognizes the idea of a “problem” and “problem solving” in the physical and social world.
  • Communicates math ideas verbally and non-verbally 

Counting and Cardinality Cluster:

  • Rote Counts to 10 and beyond by ones with increasing accuracy
  • Recognizes and names written numerals 0-5
  • Recognizes the relationship between numbers and quantities: connect counting to cardinality (0-5).
  • Shows understanding that the last number name spoken tells the number of objects counted up to 5 (cardinality)

Operations and Algebraic Thinking:

  • Responds with number words and/or counting strategy, when asked the question, How many?
  • Transitions from rote counting to 1:1 correspondence 


  • Recognizes and names/describes simple shapes
  • Matches similar shapes
  • Explores three-dimensional and two-dimensional shapes in the environment
  • Uses physical movement to gain understanding of orientation and directionality
  • Responds to words indicating directionality and position through physical movement (near, far, beside, up, down, over)

Measurement and Data:

  • Matches and groups similar objects
  • Recognizes measurable attributes of objects, such as length, weight and capacity of everyday objects (e.g., long, short, tall, heavy, light, big, small, full, empty)
  • Sorts, orders and classifies familiar objects by a single attribute (e.g., size, shape, color, texture, orientation, and position) and explains the reason
  • Uses seriation as a strategy for organizing materials (formation, arrangement, succession, or position in a series or orderly sequence)
  • Demonstrates an understanding of time periods (a short time /a long time, “five more minutes”, morning, afternoon, night)
  • Relates concepts of past, present and future to daily activities
  • Explores and begins to use measurement tools 

Math concepts are a large part of the natural world that children are curious about. You can make your own materials, but there are many quality materials being shared by other teachers that cover just about every math concept you are interested in. FCCAM shares activity ideas on their Pinterest Board: Math is Everywhere. Specific expansion ideas for Karma Wilson bear series books are on FCCAM Book Discussion: Karma Wilson: Bear Series

Create a comparison chart to list which animals hibernate, migrate or adapt. Comparison charts can be a simple list, a graph or a Venn diagram depending on the developmental level of the children.

“Bear Counts” covers the numbers 1 through 5. 

Children are exposed to the number word, numeral and quantitive images. Since “Bear Counts” only goes to 5, I’ve found it’s use best for my youngest learners and those beginning to explore independent reading. My beginning readers can read this book to the younger children. They might not read every word, but they are able to retell the story with the number clues. I do not usually use this book just for my preschool group, as it only goes to 5. I prefer to use other counting books that cover a larger number range. 

For this HIBERNATION BOARD GAME you will need: large piece of construction paper, a picture of a bear; a cave shape cut out of construction paper; dot stickers (or make you own blank shapes you will glue down); a marker; dice (Use the type of dice that works best with the age of your children: only use numbers 1-3, get dice that have numbers on them instead of dots (or tape numbers on yours!). *If you use another animal that hibernates change up cave for where the chosen animal hibernates.

Game Board: Glue the animal picture on the upper left hand corner of the large construction paper. Glue its home on the lower right hand corner. Using the dots and marker, make a path from the animal to the home. On the dots, draw the footprint of the animal you chose. Laminate or cover with clear contact paper for durability.

To Play (we play as a two person game): You will need the board game, the dice and 2 small game board pieces (mini animals are great or simply buttons, bingo chips, etc.) Start where the bear is. Place game pieces there. One child rolls the dice, and moves their game piece that number of spaces toward the den. You can play first one in game ends, or continue taking turns until both have reached the den.

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