Teaching Process Skills with Children’s Literature: Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?

Join the polar bear while he learns all about animal sounds at the zoo. Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? is the “auditory” version of Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle’s book Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You See? is a colorfully decorated book that takes children from animal to animal learning about different animal and people sounds. Eric Carle’s pictures seem flawless and give children a more fantasy feel when reading the book. The illustrator uses simple shapes and colors that children could easily begin to copy, trace, or color in to practice their own art skills.

In addition to the art, the repetitive nature of the book brings a read-aloud quality to the story and encourages students to participate in the reading experience, while simultaneously learning about the different noises of elephants, zebras, peacocks and many more. The book begins and ends with the similar tell-tale lines, “Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What do you hear? I hear a lion roaring in my ear.”

Curriculum Connections
This book could be useful for kindergarten and first grade. Students begin to work with their five senses in kindergarten and Polar Bear can help with auditory and visual awareness as well as practice with sensory description of the pictures and sounds. Into first grade, students can use this story to help with predictions based on patterns about which animal may come next and which sounds match the animals on the final pages. In Virginia this relates to science SOL K.1c (objects are described both pictorially and verbally) and K.2 a and K.2b (students will investigate the five senses and sensory descriptions).

Additional Resources

  • DLTK’s Book Break offers coloring pages of the animals in the book and suggestions to make puppets or felt board characters to act out while reading the story.
  • Illustrator Eric Carle’s website offers suggestions from teachers around the United States about how to use Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You See?. Some activities include an endangered species book/lesson, class books about what they hear with portraits, and recordings to reinforce listening and auditory skills through sounds in the book and around the classroom.
  • Nichols Elementary School offers a lesson plan with multiple activities that relate to the story and include language arts, science and art. A few examples are matching animal sounds to pictures, identify different sounds using body parts (clapping, stomping, etc.), and mixing paints to color pictures of animals in the story.

Book: Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?
Bill Martin Jr.
Eric Carle
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Publication Date: 1997
Pages: 24 pages
Grades: K-1
ISBN: 0805053883

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