Picture book play with Nick Bland

Normally I share one book and five picture book play activities based on that one book. I’m shaking things up a bit and sharing five books all by the same author -Nick Bland. Click here to find the books mentioned below as well as others by Nick Bland. Not sure what picture book play is? Find out more on this post.

1. The Very Sleepy Bear

the very sleepy bear by nick bland hands on play ideas

In this story, the sleepy bear is being taken from place to place by a sneaky fox. On their search for a perfect cave they encounter ones not quite right. After reading this story, I laid out our nesting dolls (babushka dolls) and our rainbow containers (from Spotlight). My almost 3 year old ordered the containers and then matched the correct doll to the “cave”. This simple book inspired activity explores early mathematical concepts and skills such as size, comparing, ordering and matching.

2. The Very Hungry Bear

the very hungry bear by nick bland

By the end of this book, the hungry bear has given all his fish away…and has none left for himself. My son thought this was very sad because now the bear was still hungry. So I talked to him about sharing and how that means everybody has the same amount. I then roughly drew some fish onto white paper and found three soft toy bears and some blue paper as the “plates”. My son handed out the fish to each bear, taking it in turns, so that each had an equal amount. Now, I’m not expecting him to master the concept of equal/not equal, but it was a hands on way to explore sharing.

3. The Very Cranky Bear

nick bland cranky bear

Emotions are a big concept for little ones to grasp. After reading this book, we talked about a few and how they might look/feel (with lots of acting out of course). Then I drew happy, mad and sad faces on post-it-notes and he sorted them into groups. Drawing the emotions on different faces allows children to learn to recognise the emotion in different people/situations.

4. The Very Noisy Bear

nick bland noisy bear

This one was super fun. And, super noisy! I gathered all the instruments and noise makers in the house and then placed them into a basket for my little amigos to explore. In our basket is a xylophone. DIY rice shaker and a decoration covered in jingle bells from Christmas. If you don’t have any musical instruments in your home/school, try making your own such as a recycled bottle filled with rice or two sticks as rhythm sticks. Or you could even have a sing-a-long, inspired by the noisy bear himself.

5. The Very Brave Bear

This was a tricky book to match with a hands on toddler friendly activity. We talked about what being brave looks/feels like and situations you might have to “be brave”. One of those suggestions was when climbing the web at the playground (his own idea), so we went to the park and had a go at being brave! He did it, too!!

There are other “bear” books by Nick Bland, but we just went with these five. Do you have a favourite “The Very…Bear” book? Let me know in the comments below.

If you are interested in more picture book play ideas make sure you follow me over on Instagram (@two_little_amigos) where I regularly share our favourite picture books and hands on activities inspired from those books.

Till next time,

Stay Joyful!


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