Literature Based Learning: Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?

In a bid to better understand the literature based, trans-disciplinary thematic approach to learning, I signed Xmm up for a Make a Totbook workshop conducted by fellow mom blogger, Shirley Tan. It was also an opportunity for me to have quality one-on-one time with Xmm. The literature used for our workshop  was Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? by Bill Martin, Jr and illustrated by Eric Carle. Coincidentally, Xxm ‘s school was also reading this book. Hence, I shelved off my plans for The Carrot Seed this month and decided to continue their learning with this book instead.


Totbook (Xmm @ 27-28 months)

1. Identifying the animals in the story


2. Comparing sizes – big vs small

3. Counting 2

4. Colouring: Practice listening skills as you provide verbal instructions for your tot to colour the lions.


5. Top – Music & Movement: Three Brown Bears

6. Bottom
(a) Tracing uppercase B and lowercase B with dot stickers
(b) Identifying objects that begin with the letter B


7. Top – Literacy: Polar Bear nursery rhyme

8. Bottom – Identifying parts of the polar bear on picture and on print


9. Top row, left – Zebra craft
(a) Relating black and white stripes on a zebra
(b) Reinforcing verbal instructions to stick stripes  from top to bottom
(c) Complete the craft to make it into a zebra mask (not done)

10. Top row, right – Zebra puzzle

11. Bottom row, left – Flamingo craft
(a) White + Red = Pink
(b) Fine motor skills: Finger painting


12. Bottom row, right – Leopard craft
(a) Recognizing black spots on a leopard
(b) Stamping spots
(c) Counting the number of spots

This is all we have accomplished in the 4 sessions of the Make a Totbook workshop. Activities are well planned and there are a lot of hidden agenda behind each activity. Xmm was very receptive to the activities, although it was hard work capturing his attention during each session. It was a good learning experience for the both of us. Till now, Xmm still holds his totbook with pride and particularly enjoys it when we recite the polar bear rhyme together.

Notebook (Xxm @ 42 months)


This is the cover of our lapbook which is made up of two crafts that Xxm did.

1. Hippo craft: Xxm wanted to paint the hippopotamus blue as it was his favourite animal from the book. I had a difficult time explaining why the hippopotamus was not the colour blue in the zoo.

2. Polar Bear craft: Painting the bear white and affixing a white coat with cotton wool

3. Shadow Match (shown on outermost two flaps below): we subsequently used the animal cutouts as a sequencing activity too.


4. Measuring the length of the snake with pipe cleaners and snap cubes  (centre below)
(a) 1 to 1 correspondance: using snap cubes, both Xxm and Xmm were asked to put them on the boxes provided.
(b) Practice counting
(c) Writing the correct numeral (an activity which I realised needed more attention)

5. Identifying names of the animals (pictured in flaps below)


6. How many legs? – Sorting pictures of animals according to their number of legs

7. Poem – Bear in There by Shel Silverstein (author of The Giving Tree): Very enjoyable and funny poem about finding a polar bear in your fridge


8. Polar Bear dot to dot from A to Z


9. Crafts: copied the ideas from the Make a Totbook workshop as I felt they are relevant to Xxm too.


10. Trip to the Singapore Zoological Gardens

IMG_0771 IMG_0852 IMG_0841 IMG_0859 IMG_0897 IMG_0785

That wraps up all our learning activities for this wonderful book. The children adored the book, so did I.

I shall leave you with a video clip of Xxm attempting to read the book. He imitates his teacher reading the story in school and commands full attention from all of us, including Xmm whenever he reads. A role he relishes.


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