Three Bears, Thirty Ways

When I coach other professionals, I tell them to work smarter, not harder!  I like to pick just one book and make it work for ALL of the children I see in a week.  My schedule is filled with listeners of all different ages, developmental levels, and needs, but with some creative thinking, you can take a classic story like Goldilocks and the Three Bears and find a gold mine of goals inside.  Here are THIRTY ways to make the Three Bears work for (nearly) everyone on your caseload. 


Three Bears, Thirty Ways

  1. Comparative -er/ superlative -est
  2. /b/: bowl, bear, baby, bed, big
  3. /s/ blends: sneak, spill, spoon, smell, sleep, scream
  4. Present progressive -ing: eating, sitting, sleeping, screaming, running
  5. Who? questions (Who ate my porridge?)
  6. Pronoun: someone (Someone is sleeping in my bed)
  7. Irregular past tense verbs: ate, sat, broke, slept, ran
  8. Ordinal numbers: first, second, third (First, she ate from the biggest bowl)
  9. Direct discourse (Mama Bear said, “Someone has been sitting in my chair!”)
  10. Adjectives: hot, cold, hard, soft, fluffy, firm, lumpy, etc.
  11. Adjective + noun (big bowl, broken chair, soft bed)
  12. Agent + action (girl/Goldilocks + eat/sit/sleep/run)
  13. Possessive -’s (Papa’s bowl, Mama’s chair, Baby’s bed)
  14. Definite article “the” (the big bowl, the chair, etc.)
  15. Size words: large/medium/small — or expand it: large, tiny, gigantic, etc.
  16. Modal “should” (you should not go into a stranger’s house, she should not have eaten their food)
  17. Pronoun “she” for Goldilocks (you might also try he vs. she for the bears, but that can be trickier as they don’t always look so distinctly “he” and “she” in the illustrations and may be confusing to younger children)
  18. Emotions/state words: curious, hungry, sleepy, upset, scared
  19. This/that: this chair is too hard, and that one is too lumpy
  20. Conjunction “but” (she tried the Papa’s porridge BUT it was too hot)
  21. Intesnifiers “very” and “too” (very hot, too hard)
  22. Pragmatics/voice: changing the tone of your voice for the Papa/Mama/Baby bear
  23. Pragmatics: making requests (what should Goldilocks have said to the three bears if she wanted to come in/eat their food/sit down/take a nap?  What should she have said after she broke Baby Bear’s chair?)
  24. Cognition: ordering items by size
  25. Conversational repair: giving descriptions to aid the listener (“I want a bowl” won’t work here, it’s too nonspecific!  This is a great opportunity for children to learn to describe, “I want the blue bowl with pink flowers”)
  26. Theory of mind: What did the Bears think when they came home and saw that their food had been eaten?  (If the child says, “Goldilocks ate it!” this tells us that he isn’t understanding that what’s in his head is not what’s in the Bears’!)
  27. Answering questions, “What do you do if you… (are sleepy, hungry, if you break a chair, etc.)?”
  28. Compare/contrast: Bears have paws, humans have hands; Bears are covered in fur, humans have hair
  29. Story genres: Do you think this story is fiction or non-fiction?  Why?
  30. Shake it up!  Try a version of this story from a different culture or perspective, like Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas by Natasha Yim, Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs by Mo Willems, Somebody and the Three Blairs by Marilyn Tolhurst, The Three Snow Bears by Jan Brett, or…

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