Using Research to Find a New Chair for Baby Bear

If you have ever read Goldilocks and the Three Bears you know that Baby Bear’s chair ends up in pieces. The sad thing is his chair never gets fixed.  Below you will find how students in preschool use the research process to find and build a new chair for Baby Bear.

Let me start by saying this idea is not my own! This is a beautifully borrowed idea from Kristen Girbach. At the MACUL conference, she shared that her kindergarteners had completed the Goldilocks Bear Chair Challenge. I was sure that it was something I could use to expose preschoolers to the research process.

I see the preschool students for thirty minutes each week. This project takes six to eight weeks to complete. Additionally, at this age, we teach the research process in a linear way even though it is not as authentic. This is so each step can be explicitly taught over the course of the project. The steps we focus on are: plan, do, review, and share. Below is how we break down the project.

Read the Story – Plan:

During the first week, we read aloud a traditional version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Then the students identify the main characters, the setting, the problem, and the resolution. We make sure to include that Goldilocks broke Baby Bear’s chair and that it never gets fixed. Usually, when students realize this they are ready to find him a new one.

After we determine the problem, we talk about planning. It is explained that they are going to look for a new chair for Baby Bear in our school. They need to plan where to look. Students fill out a planning page where they draw a picture of what part of the school building they would like to look in. Here is the example of the planning page.

Take Pictures – Do:

Using the planning pages they created students walk around the school and take pictures of chairs that they find. This can be any kind of chair–bench, stool–basically, anything you can sit on.  

The homeroom teachers and I can divide into three groups. This could be done as a whole class as well.

When they return from taking pictures, we discuss that we are going to need a way to decide between all of the chair options. We work together to identify five to six characteristics that we think Baby Bear’s chair should have. We write this list on chart paper to use when we review.

Decide on a Chair – Review:

Using the list from the previous week, we review what characteristics we thought Baby Bear’s chair should have. Then going through each picture, we decide if it meets the requirements. For example, we might look at a picture of a stool and decide it would not work for Baby Bear because it does not have a back.

We review the pictures until we only have the ones that work for us. Sometimes this is one picture and we have our winner. Often there are multiple choices. Then we have to discuss what chair works best for the characteristics we had listed.

Label the Chair Parts – Share:

Sharing our findings is the final step that we teach with the research process. Most people do not just research to research, but rather they share what they have found. For this part, the picture of the chair is placed in a word document. A copy is printed for each child. We work together to label each part based on the characteristics they identified. Here is an example of this page. This also allows for me to incorporate labeling as well as beginning and ending sound identification, which is part of the preschool curriculum.

Building the Chair:

A makerspace was recently added to our school. This allowed building and creating to happen more easily.  So, after the students found a new chair they decided to build one too. The students were divided into two groups. Each group began by planning what materials they would use. Here is the supply page. Then we went shopping in the makerspace for supplies. From there, the students worked together to build the chairs. When the chairs were complete they were displayed in the library.

Code the Sequence of the Story:

As a final activity, we decided to end where we started. The students sequenced the story Goldilocks and the Three Bears. A grid was drawn on the back side of a large rug. Using picture cards to represent the main events from the story the students placed the events on the grid. Then using printed arrow cards, they created their code to retell the story.

This project incorporates so many of the objectives that the library program aims to teach, including the reading comprehension skills, problem solving, the research process, design thinking, coding skills, and more.  It has been a great project to share with stakeholders to model how the library can benefit student learning.

Which chair would you pick for Baby Bear?


Author: Kelly Hincks

I am the librarian at Detroit Country Day Lower School in Bloomfield Hills, MI. I have worked as a school librarian for the past eleven years. I was a classroom teacher for four years prior to that. I have worked in charter, public, and private schools. My favorite thing about being a school librarian is the opportunities I have to work both with students and teachers. I love the co-teaching opportunities and connections I have been able to make! I have served on AASL committees as a member and chair. I currently serve as secretary of my state association, Michigan Association of School Librarians (MASL).

Categories: Blog Topics, Community/Teacher Collaboration, Makerspaces/Learning Commons, STEM/STEAM, Technology

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