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Thursday, February 20, 2020

The Very Cranky Bear Small World Bookish Play

In the Jingle Jangle Jungle on a cold and rainy day, 

Four little friends found a perfect place to play.... 

None of them had noticed that someone else was there. 

Sleeping in that cave was a very cranky... BEAR!

Do your kids love The Very Cranky Bear too? I'm pretty sure it was one of the first picture books we ever bought and it kicked off a long standing love affair with Nick Bland books

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Nick Bland's books are anything but bland! The Very Cranky Bear is a clever, humorous, rhyming story that subtly teaches children about friendship, empathy and the importance of thoughtfulness. It also shows them that you don't need to be the biggest or the best at something to be able to solve problems. He gets the message across in a fun way with hilarious cartoon style illustrations and simple rhyming text. Our girls have loved this book for years and it's still often requested as a bed time story.

When setting up play invitations for the girls I always use the kids interests and bring them into our play. Two of their favourite types of play are bookish play and small world play, so I often combine them and set up small world's based on stories we've read. They particularly love small world play that involves animal figurines, so The Very Cranky Bear small world ticked all of their boxes.


The Very Cranky Bear
Bear, moose, zebra, lion and sheep animal figurines
- Artificial grass or a felt playmat
- Cave {or aquarium ornament}
Trees or artificial plants
- River rocks

Most of the animal figurines we used in our small world are CollectA brand, however there are similar ones available from Schleich and Safari. Our animal collection is 95% CollectA because I love the detailed features and they're also generally much more cost effective than other brands. We have the papoose spring trees, however you could easily make your own DIY trees using artificial plants with this tutorial from Little Lifelong Learners. Our river rocks, mossy rocks and grass runner were all purchased at dollar stores and I just used some fern fronds from the garden to camouflage the cave.

I often make small worlds quite elaborate, especially when they're just for my big girl, but because I wanted this one to be suitable for both of them I deliberately kept it quite simple. I pared it right back to just a jungle set up with the five animal characters. This way my big girl was able to retell the story if she wanted to and my littlest was able to explore it as she wanted {which mainly included stomping all the animals around making noises}. I love small worlds because they're so open ended and play can go in so many different directions based on your child's imagination. They also provide lots of learning opportunities as questions come up during play... for example What noise does a zebra make? Why is the bear standing on two legs? Why do bears sleep in caves? Also thankgod for google because sometimes I don't know the answers.

I set up the very cranky bear small world on top of our kallax cube shelves that we have laying horizontally in the lounge room. The top of our kallax is dubbed our small world shelf because I'm constantly changing over the top to different small world set ups. I use that area to set up ones that I want to leave out for a week or more and they're always ones that don't include sensory bases {therefore no mess to constantly clean}. I leave them set up for as long as the girls are interested in them, sometimes it's a week and sometimes they last up to a month. Below is an example of another small world I had set up.

The Very Cranky Bear is the original book in Nick Bland's widely popular series. There are now 7 different books with The Very Super Bear being released last year. We have all of them except The Very Super Bear {and that's purely because I haven't had a chance to buy it yet, it's definitely on our list to get}. The girl's absolute favourite one is The Very Itchy Bear, they read it so often their dad knows it off by heart. You can find all of the books in the series, plus all of Nick Bland's books on book depository with free shipping.

Disclosure - This post contains some affiliate links which means I may earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you, should you make a purchase. For international readers, The Creative Toy Shop offer international shipping and all books purchased via Book Depository receive FREE WORLDWIDE SHIPPING.

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