Bear Says Thanks Book Play
Twig Paintings

Bear Has a Story to Tell

By Philip C. Stead
illustrated by Erin E. Stead

The newest book from the husband and wife team who brought us A Sick Day for Amos McGee, this is a beautiful, circular story that takes the reader through the quiet process of hibernation and the gentle reawakening of spring.

We follow Bear on his slow, sleepy journey through the forest as he searches for his friends to hear his story. Bear has no luck in finding an audience but instead helps each friend he meets make final preparations for the coming winter months. Bear is the epitome of patience and friendship and you can’t help but feel cozy by the fondness the animals have for each other.

Once the others are settled and the snowflakes begin to fall, Bear snuggles into his den for the long winter sleep without getting the chance to tell his story. With the special joy that only spring sunshine can bring, Bear awakens and it once again ready to share his story. The earthy watercolor illustrations are magical, soft and muted, perfectly reflecting the tone of the story.  

In this Issue


Homemade Birdseed Treats

Here's a great project for chilly afternoons when you and your young readers are cooped up in the house. Treat your backyard birds to birdseed treat and help them prepare for winter, just as bear helps his friends get everything ready for their hibernation. 

It seems a little early to pull out the Christmas books (don't worry, they're coming!) but we still wanted to make these festive, so we made them with holiday cookie cutters. Tied with a red ribbon and wrapped up, they make a perfect present for anyone on your young reader's giving list.

Homemade Birdseed Ornaments - Bear Has a Story to Tell - Off the Shelf

Homemade Birdseed Ornaments - Bear Has a Story to Tell - Off the Shelf

Homemade Birdseed Ornaments - Bear Has a Story to Tell - Off the Shelf

Homemade Birdseed Ornaments


  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 3 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 cups birdseed
  1. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, corn syrup, and water until smooth. 
  2. Add birdseed, and mix until coated and the birdseed is sticky.
  3. Tear off a large sheet of parchment or waxed paper. For easy transport, place on a cookie sheet. Select several cookies cutters: the best for this project are medium to large (around 4-5 inches across) and don't have lots of small projections, as these will easily break off the finished ornaments. In the photo above, the candy-shaped treat broke where the "twist" would be on a real piece of candy.
  4. Place cookie cutters on waxed or parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray. 
  5. Fill cookie cutters with birdseed mixture, pressing firmly. Keep a small dish of water handy while filling molds; if the birdseed mixture sticks to your hands, simply dip fingers in water before handling. 
  6. Use a skewer to make a hole near the top of the shape. 
  7. Allow to dry for 10 hours or overnight. 
  8. Carefully remove ornament from cookie cutter mold and feed string or ribbon through hole, tying a loop to hang from a branch.


Twig Paintings

With Thanksgiving coming a bit earlier in the month this year, we find ourselves not quite ready to move into Christmas activities quite yet. We are clinging to one more week of the autumn mindset before the Christmas carols start ringing in our heads and we are overcome with the need to make everything coated in glitter and glue. Please join us for an art activity that has the look and feel of late fall as we say good-by to November and the beautiful autumn leaves.

This activity is inspired by the beautiful, spare illustrations Erin Stead created for Bear Has a Story to Tell. Go on a nature walk with your young reader (another use for theCereal Box Nature Tote) and collect a variety of twigs to take home. We found twigs we liked on a fallen branch and just clipped off a few pieces to take home and use on our project.

Using the twigs adds a 3-dimensional element to the project that looks quite seasonal when displayed. This activity is also a fun introduction to dry brush painting. We used a large brush with stiff bristles to create a “scratchy” look to the leaves and experimented with pressing the brush down harder and lighter to compare the difference in the leaves we created.

Twig Painting - Bear Has a Story to Tell - Off the Shelf

Twig Paintings


  • White construction paper
  • Twigs
  • Glue
  • Paint
  • Paintbrushes
  1. Glue the twigs to the construction paper and allow to dry.
  2. Dip a dry brush in a container of paint and press down on the paper to create autumn leaves. 



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