The Bear Family Counters are colorful manipulatives that usually come in different colors, sizes and weights. They come in a variety of shapes as well. I’ve seen dinosaurs and various other animals….they can all be used in the same ways.
Children will use these bears in more ways than you can imagine. Some will play with them, as if they were miniature dolls. Others will sort them, count them, create patterns with them and organize them into families with larger bears representing the grown-ups and the smaller bears representing the children.
The bears are also proportionally weighted so they are a perfect item to be weighed on a scale. We will be looking at the Bucket Balance next week.
A fun game that I used to play with the bears was “The Trading Game”. You begin by portioning out several bears to the children and yourself. You then ask the children whether they want to “trade” their bears. You can apply values to the bears (the large bears are worth 2 small bears, etc) and you ask the children to trade. It is fun to see how the children approach the game. Some think having “more” bears is the goal. Others think that having bigger bears is the goal. This can create a great discussion about value and equality.
Give it a try and let us know what you think.