Home » Blog » Life Cycles #3: Growing Up: Little Bear’s Little Boat

Life Cycles #3: Growing Up: Little Bear’s Little Boat

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Lesson Overview:

In this lesson, students think about growing up.  What are some of the things that will change as they grow?  How will they cope with these changes?  They already know the basic parts of a lifecycle, but growth happens in between.  The concepts in the life cycle unit tie perfectly to Eve Bunting’s sweet, simple, yet profound story of a little bear and his little boat.  And, if you have time, teach the children Raffi’s timeless “Everything Grows.”  They’ll be humming it all day and the lesson will stick!

Lesson Plan:

Suggested Grades:

Early Years–1


To understand that all living things grow and change over time.  (AASL  2.3.1, “Connect understanding to the real world.”)

Suggested Time:

35-40 minutes

Success Criteria:

Each student will be able to name five items she has outgrown, what happened to the items, and how his or her life changed as a result.  Each student will also to be able to sing a simple song about growing, “Everything Grows” by Raffi.

Lesson Outline:

1. Introduction:

Remind the students that they are learning about life cycles.  Last week they looked at babies and what babies can do.  This week, the children will work with the concept of growth and what happens to some of our favorite items once we have outgrown them.

Show the cover of Little Bear’s Little Boat by Eve Bunting and Nancy Carpenter.   Ask the children if bears really sail around a lake in boats.  Of course not!  So, this is a fiction story, but we can still connect with it.  Ask the children to look for connections between what they are learning in their life cycle unit and Little Bear.  How many connections will they be able to find?

2. Main:

Share Little Bear’s Little Boat by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Nancy Carpenter.    Check for understanding by asking questions such as:

  • What did Little Bear love more than anything in the world?
  • What did he like to do with his boat?
  • What happened when Little Bear began to grow?
  • How did Mother Bear explain the situation to Little Bear?
  • What did Little Bear decide to do?
  • What would you do?

Class Activity:  Brainstorm and scribe a list of things that the children outgrow.  Just as Little Bear outgrew his boat, the students have also outgrown lots of things.  Ask the children to be specific so that the list is as long as possible.  Some items might include:

High chair                               Winter coat                             Crib

Booster Seat                          Gloves                                      Baby Blanket

Socks                                       Snowsuit                                  Teddy Bear

Pants                                       Wagon                                      Baby Books

Shirts                                       Riding Toy                                Stroller/Pram

Dresses                                   Infant Cup, Sippy Cup            Onesies

Infant swing                           Little Boat, Kite, etc.

T-Ball Bat                                Shoes

Ask the children what they do with their toys, games, books, and clothes when they are outgrown.  What did Little Bear do with his Little Boat?  What can they do with their outgrown items?  Scribe their answers as well.   A copy of this work can go back to the classroom as evidence of learning.

3. Conclusion:

If there is time, teach the children Raffi’s timeless song, “Everything Grows.”  This song has been around for a while but it fits the Unit of Inquiry perfectly and is a great complement to Bunting’s text.  If the children can read, pass out copies of the lyrics.  If not, simply speak the words of the song and then ask the children to sing along – they will be able to do it!

  1. Little Bear’s Little Boat by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Nancy Carpenter.
  2. A collection of the library’s books about growing up. Titles could include: Verdi by Janell Cannon; We Are Growing by Laurie Keller, illustrated by Mo Willems; and When I Grow Up by Mercer Mayer.
  3. Video recording of Raffi singing “Everything Grows,” found here: Raffi’s “Everything Grows.”
  4. Lyrics to Raffi’s song, “Everything Grows.” (attached).

Although the Bunting text is short and simple, I find this lesson to be very effective.  In my experience, children like to talk about how they have grown and changed.  This story, activity, and song ask them to reflect on their own growth in the context of their Unit of Inquiry.  (Key Concept:  Reflection.)  It is an old favorite of mine, and I know that it will work for you as well.

Recommended books for this lesson: 

Little Bear’s Little Boat by Eve Bunting.  (The book is out of print, and you may have a hard time finding anything except for a board book edition.  When I checked, Powell’s Used Books had a few reasonably priced hardback copies.)

Key Terms:

Growth, Size, Bears, Eve Bunting, Boats

Lyrics, Everything Grows by Raffi