Great Bear Foundation releases Bears of the World Curriculum

July 3rd, 2015

Great Bear Foundation
by Christopher Olsen
Have you ever wondered how spectacled bears got their name? Or why the giant panda eats only bamboo? Or how many subspecies of American black bear there are?

The Great Bear Foundation’s newly released Bears of the World curriculum, developed by education specialist, Christopher Olsen, will answer all of these questions and more! This project aims to provide further resources to teachers and community members interested in learning about or teaching others about bears and their habitats.

The Bears of the World curriculum contains units on each of the bear species of the world: Grizzly/Brown Bear, American Black Bear, Polar Bear, Sloth Bear, Asiatic Black Bear, Spectacled Bear, Sun Bear, and Giant Panda Bear. Each unit contains a lesson focused on population and distribution, a scientific concept or activity, a writing activity, and a cooking activity.

For example, the science lesson for each unit takes a scientific concept, such as adaptation, subspecies, or climate change, and views the concept through the lens of a specific bear species. Students will learn about adaptation with spectacled bears, about biomes with Asiatic black bears, or about climate change with polar bears. For the cooking activity, students learn more about the diets of the various bear species, and prepare food dishes using only foods eaten by a particular bear. Recipes are provided in each lesson, including fig-guava smoothies for sun bears and apple-blackberry-mango crumble for sloth bears.

The curriculum also contains an Introductory Unit and a Closing Unit. In the Introductory Unit, students learn more about ecology, habitat, diet, and common characteristics of bears. In the Closing Unit, students explore prehistoric bears, as well as learn about how bears and other wildlife are portrayed in the media.

This curriculum was primarily designed for elementary and middle school aged children, particularly grades 4 through 8. Lessons are adaptable, however, and can be modified to fit the needs of younger or older learners. This curriculum is adaptive, and teachers do not have to follow the order of the lessons as presented. While it is more effective to follow the order of lessons and topics as presented in the curriculum, the various sections and lessons are also designed to stand on their own. In this way teachers can pick and choose activities that fit more easily into their previously established classroom curricula.

The curriculum aims to be interdisciplinary, with various lessons incorporating combinations of math, science, writing, history, cooking, and art. An interdisciplinary model is used to emphasize the various interconnections that exist between disciplines and to show how the topic of bears is connected to a multitude of disciplines as well.

A sample lesson is available for download, along with the Introduction and Table of Contents. The Bears in the Media lesson has students research how bears and other wildlife are commonly presented in television, movies, magazines, and other popular media and prepare a presentation for the class. If you are interested in receiving the whole curriculum, please
contact us.

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