How to Play Bears & Chairs

a) Place the small bears and black chair on the table.

b) Review the colour words and position words with the child. Ideally, they should understand most of the colour words and some of the position words. If not, consider practicing those words a bit more before starting to play.

c) Place the picture cards face down on the table, pick one up and hold it so the child can’t see it.

d) Read the sentence at the top or modify it to suit your teaching purpose.

e) Have the child arrange the items as best they understand.

  • You can choose not to intervene in their arrangement even if they are making a mistake.
  • Or you can insert some cues and supports to help them arrange the items correctly (i.e. repeating the sentence, using visual supports, emphasizing key words, etc.).
  • Both approaches are useful depending on the intended learning outcome

f) When the child if finished arranging the items, show them the picture card. If they arranged the items correctly, great! They understood everything you said.

g) If they did not arrange the items correctly, this is the perfect teaching moment! 

  • Start by pointing out what’s different between the picture and their arrangement – what word(s) did they not understand?
  • Repeat the word(s) while you help the child rearrange the items. Add more instruction if needed.

h) Continue being the speaker until the child understands the instructions about 80% of the time.

i) Then invite the child to be the speaker and practice their expressive language. Arrange the bears exactly as the child describes even if you know they are saying it incorrectly.

j) When you are done have the child show you the picture card.

k) If your arrangement is the same, great! They know how to describe the image correctly.

l) If they did not describe it correctly this is another teaching opportunity! Model the correct way to say the instruction as you rearrange the items emphasizing the words they didn’t know. Ask them to repeat your model if appropriate.

m) Move to the next level when the child is about 80% successful being the listener and speaker.

Level 1:

Instructions contain 2 pieces of important information: colour + position.

Materials: 1 black chair, 6 small bears and 10 picture cards with a green border.

Level 2:

Instructions contain 3 pieces of important information: size + colour + position

Materials: 1 black chair, 6 small bears and 15 picture cards with a yellow border.

a) Place the all the bears and black chair on the table.

b) Point out that there are big and small bears now.  Ask the child to point to some of the bears as a warm up (i.e. point to the big red bear, point to the small green bear).

c) Go first and play as described in level 1.

Level 3:

Instructions contain 4 pieces of important information: size + colour + position + chair colour

Materials: both chairs, all the bears and 20 picture cards with a blue border.

a) Place both chairs and all the bears on the table.

b) Point out that there are black and white chairs now.  Ask the child to place a few different bears on the different chairs as a warm up
(i.e. put the big yellow bear on the black chair, put the small green bear under the white chair).

c) Go first and play as described in level 1.

Bonus level:

Materials: both chairs, all the bears and 15 picture cards with a purple border.

a) Place both chairs and all the bears on the table.

b) Gather the 3 cards for a particular sequence (there are 5 different sequences)

c)  Read the sentence at the top of the first card and wait for the child to arrange the items accordingly. 

Then place it face up on the table and check for accuracy together before moving on to the next card.

d) Do the same for the next 2 cards in the sequence.

e)  Make sure to emphasize the words: first, then, last

f)  Once the child can follow the sequences with about 80% success, invite them to be the speaker.

g)  Try making up new sequences!

Bears & Chairs Visual Supports

Custom visual supports help children who require more information in order to understand or use instructional language.

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Checklist

Use the checklist to ensure the child has the vocabulary they need to be a successful listener and speaker. It's also a great way to make sure everything is packed up when you're done playing!

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