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Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

Bill Martin Jr and (illus) Eric Carle
Age 0-5 

Now fifty years old, this classic, favourite picture book is rhyming, rhythmic and memorable. It’s about colours and animals, and builds up slowly with a satisfying reverse pattern at the end. Available in many languages, as a board book and with a CD, it has bright, tissue-paper collage illustrations and is perfect for sharing again and again.


Share the story

Read aloud
Read this tuneful story aloud, talking together about the pictures as you do. Conversations about the book give space for children to ask questions, share their experience and deepen their understanding. Why do they suppose the animals are illustrated in unexpected colours?

Join in
Re-read the story, encouraging children to predict the rhyme. Children will want to experience the fun again and again. You can also take it in turns to ‘playread’ the story, eg Adult: Brown Bear, Brown Bear, what do you see? Child: I see a blue horse looking at me.

Tell the story
When children hear the story several times they’ll get to know it really well.  This helps them to tell it in their own words, using the pictures as prompts. Listen for the ways they use words and phrases from the story. This familiarity will support them to read the story independently and with increasing accuracy.

Things to make and do (activities for children age 3+)

Act out the story with puppets
Children can draw and colour the animals on thick paper or card which can be cut out and glued to lolly sticks to make puppets. They can then re-enact and retell the story, either in their own words or by remembering the tuneful phrases from the book.

Make a zig-zag book
With your help, children can make a zig-zag, or concertina, book. Children can have fun sticking different coloured tissue paper on to the paper, choosing the right colour to match each animal. They can leave a space for the cover and then illustrate and label each animal, one by one, in the same order as they appear in the book.  Children can then talk their way through the book, adding the words orally or, with help, on the page.

Make a telescope
Using a cardboard tube (from kitchen foil or rolled up cardboard with sellotape or elastic bands, for example), children can decorate it to make their own telescope. They can then use it to explore their surroundings, chanting ‘Brown Bear, Brown Bear, what do you see?’ and making up their own refrain, for example: ‘ I see a red armchair/purple flower/green apple/blue shoe/gold fish/silver granny…looking at me!’

Find out more

Find out more about Eric Carle here

Brown bears
Brown Bears fishing, with David Attenborough see here

More on brown bears here


Buy the new edition here