Coding Concepts: We're Going on a Bear Hunt

This activity has been modified for students with visual impairments with permission from the original author, Deidre Smith (JDaniel4's Mom) See her original We're Going on a Bear Hunt Coding Algorithm Pinterest article here.

Follow this family as they swishy-swashy and splash sploshing down the trail in the classic storybook, Going on a Bear Hunt. Through sing-song repetitive lines, the characters march their way through tall grass, a river, mud, a forest, a snowstorm, and a cave. Going on a Bear Hunt is a fun way to introduce young students to simple coding algorithm concepts.

Materials

  • We're Going on a Bear Hunt book by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury (optional - can substitute the song/chant instead of the book)
  • Tactile We're Going on a Bear Hunt grid
  • Tactile arrows, Wikki Stix cut into small sections, or other tactile manipulatives

Create a tactile grid with symbols or brailled words to correspond with the story. (See attached print version of the Bear Hunt grid; hopefully a .brf will be available soon!) You can create your own grid using braille grid paper, using a PIAF machine or create your own using Washi or Rainbow tape to mark the grid lines and textures to represent the obstacles.

The Image below is titled, "We're Going on a Bear Hunt Algorithm Activity" It is a 7 row, 5 column grid with these pictures:

  • House: Row 7, column 1
  • Grass: Row 5, column 1
  • River: Row 2, column 1
  • Snow: Row 5, column 3
  • Mud: Row 1, column 4
  • Cave: Row 7, column 4
  • Forrest: Row 3, column 5

FYI: Young students typically learn grids where the numbering starts in the top left corner (as described above). However, it is important to note that some grids (in higher math) are numbered starting with the bottom left corner, such as where the house is located in the grid below. The Puzzle Worlds in the Swift Playgrounds coding app are labeled starting in the bottom left corner. You can label your grid whichever way you feel is best for your specific student.

We're Going on a Bear Hunt grid with corresponding images

Activity

Read the story several times and learn the hand movements. (The hand motions are fun and they help students remember the sequence of the route!)

Explore the tactile grid and discuss what each symbol represents. As the student to repeat the sequence that the characters find the obstacles in the book. Starting at the House in Row 7, column 1, determine the quickest route to the first obstacle (grass). How many squares and in which direction do you move to reach the square with the grass? Place an up arrow in the square between the house and the grass and place a second arrow in the square with the grass. (For some students, initially it might be easier to 'finger walk' to the grass. Once the student finds the squares with the house and the grass, have him 'walk' his index finger and middle finger from the square with the house, to the blank square above the house, and then to the square with the grass.)

Repeat the activity to move from the grass to the second obstacle (river) and to complete the route to the cave.

When done, ask the student to repeat the entire route while double checking his work, starting at the house and ending at the cave. Be sure that the student states the direction of the arrow and how many arrows for each portion of the route. (Example: "Starting at the house, up arrow, up arrow to the grass" (or two up arrows). 

Coding Algorithm

An algorithm is the process or set of rules to be followed, especially by a computer. In this case, students will create an algorithm on the grid that follows the events of the story.

O&M Route

The route begins at the house, moves through the obstacles and ends at the cave. This basic route - and landmarks/obstacles along the way - is similar to an O&M route. For O&M purposes, this activity can be expanded to help develop good mental mapping skills. Where is the cave in relationship to the house? (Three squares to the right.) 

Resources

Coding Concepts #2: Brown Bear, Brown Bear post

Coding Concepts #3: Snowy Day post

The attached We're Going on a Bear Hunt files are intended for printing on Swell Paper and run through a thermal image enhancer: one version has tactile black and white symbols and key and the second version is in braille only format. These grids also include row and column numbers. (A big thank you to Betsey Sennott at Perkins School for the Blind for creating these files for Paths to Tecnology viewers!)