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Rivers Class: Bear Hunters / Bear Lovers

October 23, 2020 | Nathan Johnson

“We’re going on a bear hunt. 

We’re gonna catch a big one!

What a beautiful day. 

We’re not scared…”


Welcome back to Drama! 

In Drama, books have brought us tales of tigers and treasure … and now bears. The kids have been loving reading and rereading this book. So you can imagine their delight when Mr. Johnson announced that …

The Rivers Class would go on their own bear hunt!

(Several, in fact.)

They went on expeditious hunts all week and they found bears all over the place! Many in similar places to where the treasure was hidden;  in windows, under benches, around corners, and even …

Up a tree!

They found a total of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8…


And Mr. Johnson and Ms. Buckley said that they could KEEP THEM.

The children were ecstatic. 

They carried them back to the Rivers Class

And hugged them tight.

After counting themselves, the children agreed that there were enough bears for them to each pick one!

They each picked carefully…

Then the children decided they needed a way to tell them apart

And so we gave them each a block with the child’s name on it.

This satisfied them for a bit — but three things quickly became apparent:

1. It was still too easy to mix the bears up! They all looked the same

2. The bears needed their own names and …

3. If these bears were going to be at school with us, the children concluded, they need to be safe just like us. They needed masks…

And so out came the fabric and the ribbons and the socks… and outfits started to emerge.

First masks…

Then shirts (made of socks!)

Then other accessories, like ribbons, hats, and pop pom buttons.Each child selected all their own materials and worked with the teacher to realize their design…

As the children have been dressing their bears, they also have been getting to know them.

Their likes, dislikes, favorite things … even asking them their names!

I wonder what their names will be?

And I wonder what else we will learn about them?


There is still the issue of these blocks…

As great as the bears’ look (you’ll get a more in-depth look at them in the next blog) their “block beds” (as the children have come to call them) are not very comfortable.

Will you send in a shoebox to help make a lovely, comfy bed?

They don’t have to be beautiful — the Rivers Class kids will take care of that themselves!

So much happens in Drama!

When a tiger came to tea in drama, he helped the children learn about playing together, sharing, and polite conversation.

When the children went on treasure hunts all over the school, they practiced and practiced and practiced walking in a line, walking up and downstairs, holding doors, all while getting to know all the neighbors in our school.

I wonder what these bears will teach us?

Tune in next time for more in Bear News…

Nathan Johnson

Early Childhood & Lower School Visual Art Teacher

Nathan Johnson graduated in 2004 from Lenoir-Rhyne University with a Bachelor of Arts in Visual Arts (focusing on Illustration, Art History, and Puppetry), Theatre, and Elementary Education, followed by further time in Europe studying Art, and in Nova Scotia working with adults with developmental differences.

Happily back at his Alma mater (MSS class of 1995) Nathan has passionately committed his career to preserving the dignity and wonder of childhood. As children are more and more burdened with technology and privilege, he believes that in order for children to learn and grow, they must be given freedom within structure, choices with guidance, allowed to play, struggle, get dirty, and above all, to be taught that they are a beloved child of God.

When not in the classroom, Nathan can be found kayaking, camping, hosting a game night, wandering around New York City, making friends with strangers, and spending time with his 11 nieces and nephews.

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