Summary: Bear is bored in his cave and he misses his friends. He wants to share a feast with them, but alas, his cupboard is bare. One by one, each of his friends show up unannounced bringing food to share. With every arrival, Bear says, "Thanks!" but he feels bad that he doesn't have something to share. His friends console him by telling him he doesn't need to have food to share when he can share his stories. It ends with everyone enjoying the potluck feast and they all say, "Thanks!"
There are many, many ways to use this versatile title as a Thanksgiving mentor teaching text. Here are just a few ideas:
1. Thanksgiving Themes:
Be thankful for your friends.
Be thankful for the food you have to eat.
Share food even with those who may not have it. (This one is a little deeper.)
I love that the story doesn't rhyme completely. There are sections of verse interspersed with non-rhyming text. For instance, when the bear says "Thanks!" it's not part of the rhyme scheme. Changing the meter actually provides a nice emphasis for saying thanks.
"Brrrrr! says Badger
as he tromps inside.
He sets down his pole
and he smiles real wide.
I'm back from a stroll at the old fishin' hole!
And the bear
3. Internal Rhyme
If you are teaching older students (third grade and up) about poetic structures, there is some internal rhyme used in this story. Internal rhyme is when two words rhyme inside the same line of text. For younger kids, simply read the lines aloud and ask them to listen for the internal rhyming. This is wonderful for building phonological (phonemic) awareness skills.
Then mouse stops by with a huckleberry pie.
"I'm back from a stroll at the old fishin' hole.
Bear mutters and he stutters
His friends hug him tight. "It will be all right!"
There is some very effective use of alliteration in this story, without being tripped up like a tongue twister. It's a particularly good model to show kids how the sounds of alliteration can be used very effectively in writing. The use of alliteration makes it much more memorable.
Then they hear, "Hi, ho!" (th, h sounds)
and they both see Hare
with a big batch of muffins (b sound)
at the door of the lair!
There's a flap and a flitter (fl sound)
and a flurry in the den
when in flutters Owl
with Raven and Wren. (r sound)
I especially like this last line (Raven/Wren) because it well demonstrates that alliteration repeats the same sound, and not the same letter.
5. Vocabulary Building
There are so many excellent vocabulary words for word building:
grateful (A perfect Thanksgiving word if ever there was one!)
Verbs (These verbs also happen to be wonderful examples of onomatopoeia!)
Nouns (There are many terrific nouns in the story, but these are particularly good ones to brainstorm some synonyms!)
6. A Homophone used in Context:
Bear has a bare cupboard.
(Bear/bare are homophones. They are words that sound alike, but are spelled differently and mean different things.)
7. Compound Words:
Of course, the most important interjection in the story is "Thanks!"
But there are a few others as well:
"Goodness me, a delectable pie!"
Brrrrr! says Badger
BONUS: Karma Wilson has also included some supplemental Bear activities and printouts on her fun website:
Bear Dot-to-Dot Coloring Sheet
Celebrate the Coming Seasons with Bear
Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson and illustrated by Jane Chapman, 2012 makes a great addition to your Thanksgiving read aloud library collection.