15 Simple Ways to Play with Counting Bears
I am a big fan of multi-functional toys for our kids. A versatile toy cuts down on clutter, saves us money, and keeps Chulengo entertained for more extended periods. One of our kids’ favorite activities is getting to play with counting bears.
This set of counting bears has been a regular favorite in our house. Why is this set such a big hit? There are numerous ways to use the bears in educational, creative, and playful ways. STEM activities, fine motor skills practice, gross motor skills incorporation, matching, pattern recognition, and sorting are just a few of the ways we use the counting bears in our home.
Over the past year, Chulengo and I have come up with many creative and engaging ways to use the bears at home. The possibilities are endless, but here is a list of 15 activities we enjoy when using the counting bears.
Fill a container with water. I like using a pot or the water table if we are outside. Using a small hand-held strainer or spoon, have your child scoop the bears into the pot of water. Then have them mix the soup using a wooden spoon. Add other “ingredients” using other small toys from around the house, such as matchbox cars, plastic balls, legos. If you are outside, encourage your toddler to find leaves, grass, and rocks, to add to the soup. Take it a step further and have your child try to pour the bear soup into various containers using a ladle or cup.
Materials needed: counting bears, a large container, a small strainer or ladle, a wooden spoon, other small toys (e.g., matchbox cars, plastic balls, legos), ingredients from nature (e.g., leaves, grass, rocks)
Put a bear or two in each slot of an ice cube tray. Fill the tray with water and freeze overnight. Once frozen, have your child free the bears from the ice. Teach them to use a small mallet to break the ice to free the bears. Or have them practicing pouring or spraying warm water on the bears to melt the ice.
Materials needed: counting bears, ice cube tray, small mallet (or hammer), cup, spray bottle
Working alongside your child, use the sorting cups to create a fort for the bears. Get creative by stacking cups or use popsicle sticks to build ramps and bridges for the bear fortress. Then place the bears in different areas around the fort. Legos and blocks are other great tools to use.
Materials needed: counting bears, sorting cups, additional building supplies (e.g., popsicle sticks, blocks, legos)
Create little “caves” with your child using magnet tiles, paper plates, or construction paper. Then have your child sort the bears into the corresponding color caves. I like this particular activity because we are incorporating two of Chulengo’s favorite toys: his Picasso Tiles and counting bears.
Materials needed: counting bears, materials for caves (e.g., magnet tiles, paper plates, construction paper)
Muffin Tin Rescue
Place the bears in each cup of a muffin tin. Then attach blue painters tape in random places all over the muffin tin. Have your child use their hands or a tool (i.e tongs, a spoon, etc.) to free the bears from the tape. Another option is to give your child some scissors and have them cut the tape to free the bears.
Materials needed: counting bears, muffin tin, painters tape, tongs, scissors
Peekaboo Bears Sensory Play
Toss some bears into your sensory bin and have your child try to bury them and then find them. To make it more challenging, use a scoop or tongs to pick up the bears once found and place in a nearby cup. I like doing this with rainbow rice because the colors make it more challenging. But, you can do this with any sort of sensory bin filler
Materials needed: counting bears, a large container, sensory bin filler (e.g., rainbow rice, beans, dry pasta, plain rice, etc.), pick-up tool (e.g., tongs, spoon, tweezers)
Balance the Bears
Make a scale, using a hanger, string, and plates (or cups). Then place a household item or toy on one side of the scale. Then count how many bears it takes on the other side to level the scale. If you don’t have the time or energy to make a scale, you can use this scale that is available on Amazon.
Materials needed: counting bears, hanger, hole punch, string, cups, household items (e.g., spoon, dry beans), toys (e.g., blocks, matchbox cars)
Hide & Seek Bears
This one is pretty straight forward. Take turns hiding the bears in different places around the house or outside. First, you hide them, and then your child searches for them. Then switch roles.
Count the bears beforehand, so you know how many to find. My toddler can take forever to hide just a few, and he sometimes forgets where he hides them, so to minimize the chance of losing bears, I only give him a couple at a time.
Materials needed: counting bears
Pretend Play Bears
Straight up imaginative play. The possibilities are endless, and your child will have some great ideas. But just in case you need some help, here are some fun ideas to initiate play:
- The bears are hanging out with dinosaurs (like pictured above)
- The bears are attending a birthday party.
- The bears are getting ready for the first day of school.
- The bears are upset after they break their favorite toy.
- The bears have to jump off the couch to make it to the forest, but they are scared.
Materials needed: counting bears, other miscellaneous accessories for pretend play
Set the bears on one side of the room. Place an empty tray or container on the other side of the room. A cup from this counting bear set works well.
Instruct your child to pick up a single bear with tongs/spoon/whatever tool you decide, and carry it to the other side of the room. To make this more challenging, add a timer, change the height of the pickup and drop off stations, or encourage carrying more than one bear at a time.
Materials needed: counting bears, carrying tool (e.g., tongs, spoon), drop off spot (e.g., tray, cup)
Bear Bucket Toss
Line up the sorting cups on the ground. Place a piece of painters tape on the floor for your child to stand on. Have your child practice tossing the bears into the corresponding cups. As your toddler improves, move the cups further away.
Materials needed: counting bears, sorting cups, painting tape
Pattern Tracing with Bears
Draw a pattern on a piece of paper. My favorite go-to is a zig-zag line. But other ideas include looped lines, circles, letters, dashed lines. Have your child line the bears up on the line. Switch things up by having them practice using their non-dominant hand, tongs, or tweezers.
Materials needed: counting bears, paper, marker or pen, tools (e.g., tongs, tweezers)
Put a long piece of painter’s tape down on the floor. Then have your child line the bears up like they are in a parade. Add stuffed animals and other toys along the side of the bears as pretend spectators. Play music and blow up balloons to celebrate.
Materials needed: counting bears, painters tape, miscellaneous toys, and stuffed animals, balloons
Add the bears to the tub with your toddler at bathtime. Have your child clean the bears with a washcloth or a small toothbrush. It’s also a fun setting to practice sorting, counting, lining up, and following directions. I will give simple commands like, “place four purple bears on the edge of the tub,” “line up the yellow bears on this end of the tub and the orange bears on the opposite end of the tube,” and “put four bears in one hand.”
Materials needed: counting bears, bath tub, old toothbrush, washcloth
Bear Pattern Prediction
Create a pattern with the bears and have your child guess which bear comes next. I like to put these in a tray, so there is a place to focus. Color patterns are an easy go-to. Red, orange, yellow, red, orange _____. Another pattern prediction would be the position of the bears: standing on feet, lying on the back, lying sideways, standing on feet, lying on the back, _____.
Materials needed: counting bears, tray (optional)
Already have a set? Do you have a favorite activity with your counting bears? Share your favorite activity with the counting bears below in the comments section.