Bears on Hemlock Mountain
by Alice Dalgliesh
Activities 1998 Nancy Polette

Return to list of literature guides
About the Book
Jonathan lived in a stone farmhouse at the foot of Hemlock Mountain. Grown-ups did not think there were bears on the mountain but Jonathan did. Besides, Uncle James said he had once seen a bear.When Jonathan's mother sent him over the mountain to borrow a large cooking pot from his aunt, the boy is late in returning and a search party goes out looking for him. What they find is a surprise for everyone.
Answer these questions about black bears. Guess if you do not know.
A. Black bears weigh ___ pounds when born.
B. A newborn black bear is ___ inches long.
C. Black bears live about ___ years.
D. The largest known black bear weighed ____lbs.
Put these words on separate small cards. Students are to use as many of the words as they can to make two or three sentences about bears. Other words can be added.
Jonathan munched bears hungry
Hemlock Mountain farmhouse footprints arched
puzzle creatures cousins danger
company breath cottontail raccoon
politeness relatives brave nonsense
Before reading each chapter, or group of chapters, choose one of the open-ended sentence starters to complete. Then write two more sentences about it. Be ready to read what you have written to a small group of your classmates.
Chapter One:
1. Wild animals get food in winter by...
2. A really good supper would be...
Chapter Two:
3. Having lots of relatives would be...
4. Animals you might see in a walk through the woods...
5. Having 20 people for dinner
Here is a verse about food Jonathan's mother cooked:
She cooked:
Brown chicken sizzling in the skillet
Yellow corn steaming in the pot
Apple pie baking in the oven
Eat, all you people, eat!

(Sing the song to the tune of "Skip To My Lou")
Write another verse using your favorite foods:
I like: _________ _________ _________ _________
_________ _________ _________ _________
_________ _________ _________ _________
Eat, all you people, eat!

James taught Jonathan to look closely when he went into the woods. They saw a cottontail rabbit, a song sparrow and a raccoon.Choose an animal that lives in the woods. Find facts about the animal. List six facts and number them 1-6. One fact must be a "give away" fact. Ask a classmate to give you a number between one and six. Read the fact for that number. If the student passes, call on another classmate to give you a different number. The game continues until the mystery animal is guessed, or all clues are read. EXAMPLE:
1. I am sometimes called a clown.
2. I can climb trees.
3. I have black fur.
4. I have four legs.
5. My name rhymes with pear.
6. I sleep in the wintertime.
In the Woods: Who's Been There?
by Lindsay Barrett George. Greenwillow Books, 1995.
Two children take a walk through the woods and see clues that tell them what animal has been there before them.
They see shells of nuts.
Who's been there?
Answer: A squirrel.
Draw a picture of something an animal might have left in the woods. Ask your reader: Who's been there? On the next page of your book, draw a picture of the animal.
Jonathan would see different things on the mountain at different times of the year. For example, he might see a tadpole in a mountain stream in the spring. By summer the tadpole would be a frog.What other living things change from one form to another? Can you add two more to this list?
1. A tadpole becomes a frog.
2. An acorn becomes a tree.
3. __________________________________________________________
4. _____________________________________________________________
Choose one of the items you added and write a poem about it, using the pattern below. PATTERN:
Look at the frog that grew from a tadpole
Slowly, slowly from a tadpole
In the pond it grew and grew
Look at the frog, it's brand new!

Look at the ______ that grew from a ______
Slowly, slowly from a ______________
In the ________ it grew and grew
Look at the ________ it's brand new
Jonathan heads down the mountain when he sees two dark shapes. He hides under the cooking pot as the shapes come closer.Write what you think the shapes are and what will happen next. Jonathan hid under the cooking pot. As the two shapes came closer and closer he peeked out and saw ____________. The ___________ (did what?)_________________________ and Jonathan (did what?) ________________. The (tell what happened) ___________________.
Jonathan continues his journey and sings a song about no bears on Hemlock Mountain. He hears a drip, drip of melting snow. If there were bears, is this a sign of spring? Are they waking up? Write a chant about spring. Follow the pattern for the winter chant.

Cold winds
Warm fires
Fur coats
Warm mittens
Ear muffs
These are just a few
Snow boots
Sleeping bears
Bare trees
White snow
Road cleaners
Dark mornings
Fast sleds, too
From near and far
Here they are

These are just a few
_______________, too.
From near and far
Here they are

Black bears are sometimes called the clowns of the woods because they like to play, standing on their heads, dancing and falling over and over. Some black bears have brown fur instead of black. They are the smallest of all North American bears. They can climb trees and run fast. They spend much of the winter sleeping in caves or hollow trees. They eat fruits, berries, acorns, leaves and roots of plants. A newborn black bear weighs one half pound and is about seven inches long. The largest black bear known weighed 900 pounds. Black bears live about twenty-five years.