The Bear Went Over the Mountain for the Elementary Music Classroom

The Bear Went Over the Mountain is sung to the tune of For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow. To begin this lesson, sing the melody to your class and see if they recognize it. You may have a majority of students who’ve heard it before, or possibly none at all.

This is one of the better known tunes of American Culture, and one that may be sung by your students once they’ve grown into adults. It makes me think of Dr. Feierabend’s 30-year plan. The following quote is a summation of Feierabend’s logic:

If we believe adults should be able to sing to their children and dance with their spouses and appreciate good quality music literature, then we must sing to our babies, and dance with our babies, and do both with quality children’s music literature. Then when those babies become 30 years old, they will be musically sensitive and be able to provide an appropriate nurturing musical environment for their children.

Feierabend, 1996

If you’d like to know more about his 30-year plan, I highly recommend reading THIS.

  • Students stand in a circle with partners, with their elbows linked.
  • During the first verse, students march around the circle clockwise.
  • During the chorus “To see what he could see…” students perform a grand right and left until the end of the chorus (at which point they’ll have new partners).
  • They repeat these actions for the second verse with their new partners.

I created the visuals below to give you and your students a better idea of how to play the circle game/dance. Students begin with partners in the starting formation. You could even do this with two circles, an inner and outer if your students needed an extra challenge.

Partners link elbows and march clockwise to the beat.

During the chorus, students perform the grand right and left. Search “grand right and left” on Youtube for examples of students performing this move.

Grand right and left can be a tricky concept. Use the visual below to help your students better understand the concept of mirroring.

Point out to your students that, if you flip this image upside down, it remains the same.