The very cranky bear in the classroom

The very cranky bear by Nick Bland

very crankyWhat you’ll need

  • A copy of The very cranky bear (My review)
  • Musical instruments
  • A talking stick

Age Level

This book is hilarious, but probably more suited to a junior classroom.

Reading The very cranky bear

I’m sorry to tell you that after the peacefulness of yesterday’s, Pool, we’re back to chaos. The very cranky bear is one of those madcap adventures with big voices and crazy outfits. The lovely cast of characters include Moose, Sheep, Lion, Zebra and of course cranky old Bear himself. I have used this book for a series of sound lessons. We came up with different body percussion sounds to represent the different animals and retold the story incorporating these sounds. The class could be split into four and they could each work out a sound for one animal, with everyone joining in when it’s Bear’s turn. If you have access to a music room, you can up the ante slightly and choose musical instruments to represent the animals. Try playing the instruments in different ways depending on how the animal is feeling. What will you do when it’s Bear’s turn and he’s yelling?



One of the challenges I set my class yesterday (we’re still online) was to create a shaker or maraca as suggested by our lovely music teacher. My own examplePXL_20210906_230403095 involved a toilet roll (or paper towel roll if you’re in the classroom), filled with rice. I stuck a bottle top in one end, although in other online versions I’ve seen both ends were squeezed shut in different directions. Instead of using musical instruments to retell the story, you could make and decorate your own noise makers. Different outer shells, like glass or plastic jars would create a different sound and could represent the different animals. Or you could experiment with how to make the shaker create a variety of sounds using long slow movements, short sharp snaps, or little tiny shakes.

Circle Time

Circle Time, or sharing circles are a really good way to share ideas, learn to listen and develop language skills. My current school ran our staff through training and encouraged us to incorporate circle times into our weekly timetable. I wasn’t sure how my class of new 5-year-olds would respond, but I gave it a whirl. A talking stick is passed around the circle. Each child responds to a question and hands the stick on. You can pass on your turn, but at the end I ask anyone who passed if they are ready to share. The very first time we tried this I was mind-blown as about 6 children passed on the first round and on the second round they all spoke and their ideas were lovely, honest, varied and showed genuine engagement with the questions. It just goes to show, that there are far smarter people out there who know a lot more than I do.

The very cranky bear raises lots of lovely issues around friendship and differences and seeing things from someone else’s point of view. There’s also nice discussion to be had about what you can do if your friend is cranky, or if you’re feeling cranky yourself. If you’re a circle time skeptic, give it a go and let me know if the experience changes your mind.

Check out The very cranky bear at Auckland Libraries.

Or buy The very cranky bear from Fishpond.

One thought on “The very cranky bear in the classroom

  1. Pingback: The very cranky bear by Nick Bland (2008) | myfriendlucy

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