The beginning of the school year is a tough time for everyone: students find it a major shift from their once carefree summer-time; parents need to get back into the routine of schedules, lunches, timetables and homework; and teachers are busy programming, preparing classrooms, schedules and completing other related teacher administrivia. The universal theme, traveling teddy bears, unites three parties in a co-operative learning environment and is the focus of this article.
Education is becoming increasingly more challenging for parents, teachers and students so it’s important to focus on finding a venue that will serve many purposes. Namely: motivate, engage, and excite the student; meet curriculum requirements to be delivered by teachers; and satisfy and give encouragement to parents that their students are enjoying their educational experiences. Teddy bear travels focuses on learning through the eyes of a teddy bear. Coincidently, student learning is enhanced by direct involvement in this approach to learning, and it often occurs without the students being aware.
One way to educate with teddy bears is to incorporate teddy bear travels into the curriculum at the beginning of the school year. Over the course of the academic year, bears travel with a companion, exploring different destinations and the traveling companion keeps a record, in a teddy bear journal, of the many experiences that they have had. This traveling companion could be a student’s friend, a friend of the family, or it could be the student himself going on a weekend excursion or family trip over the holidays. The teddy bear travels occur over the course of the school year, with postcards being sent back to the student in the classroom, chronicling the various destinations that have been visited. Towards the end of the school year, the traveling teddy bear returns to the classroom with its travel journal, pictures that have been taken and any memorabilia that has been collected along the way. Students have spent time over the course of the year, reading, writing, and communicating with others about their bears’ adventures. These teddy bear travel experiences have been integrated into the existing curriculum, with students being motivated and engaged in their own learning.
By the end of the year, you find that this is what happened along the way: students were actively involved in their own learning; parents were excited and pleased that their students were interested in their own learning; and teachers found students motivated to learn about where their bears have been and what they had done.
Therefore, a win-win-win situation has occurred and student learning has been achieved through a universal ambassador in the traveling teddy bear.