Dear Bears Families,

Such a busy month for the Bears! First, the Bears finished up their family study with some delightful books: “The Relatives Came” by Cynthia Rylant (illustrated by Stephen Gammell), an exuberant story about visiting relatives and the fun everyone has being together; and “We’re Very Good Friends, My Grandma and I” by P.K. Hallinan. The Bears also discussed things they like to do with their families (responses included going to restaurants, playing games, and movie night), and they learned the “Family Song” in Spanish. It was a wonderful end to a very rich and meaningful study.

As the family study was winding down, the Bear teachers noticed there was a lot of map-making happening in the Bears Room with Bear children drawing maps (some quite detailed with symbols) with markers on paper, then taking their maps into the Cozy Closet to go on “adventures.” The teachers decided to tap into this interest and develop a study on maps. First the Bears read “Me on the Map” by Joan Sweeney, an engaging introduction to maps and geography, then discussed what they know about maps. They also read “There’s a Map on My Lap” by Tish Rabe, another playful introduction to maps. The Bears also found some creative ways to make maps, making 3-dimensional maps with the interlocking chutes, bridges, columns, and spinning wheels of their classroom Marble Run and later fashioning maps by bending and placing Wikki Stix on plastic mats. One day they used butcher paper, markers, and crayons to make a big map together as they drew streets and buildings to indicate where they live. And another fun and absorbing map activity has been putting together a puzzle of a map of the United States – a class favorite.

With the beginning of winter and the holiday season upon us, the Bears have been learning about their classmates’ different celebrations. Ari and his mom talked about Hanukkah at circle time one day and read “The Runaway Latkes” by Leslie Kimmelman (illustrated by Paul Yalowitz), a whimsical take on “The Gingerbread Boy.” The Bears also read “Chanukah Lights Everywhere” by Michael J. Rosen, then looked at a menorah and played with dreidels. Another day Olive read “Olive, the Other Reindeer” by Vivian Walsh (illustrated by J. Otto Seibold), a funny spin on the Rudolph song. And just yesterday the Bears read “The First Day of Winter” by Denise Fleming as we observed winter’s start.

On a final note, today was Kieran’s last day at the Collective as he and his family are moving to Boston next week. Kieran’s mom, Shayne, brought in cupcakes, and we had a good-bye celebration. We will miss Kieran (and his brother Wylie, and parents Shayne and Josh) very much, and wish them lots of luck in Boston (where Kieran is very excited to be near his beloved Red Sox).

Have a wonderful break – see you again on January 5th!