COVID Beware: Bears Enter Battle

COVID Beware: Bears Enter Battle

( – The coronavirus pandemic has the world in lockdown, which can lead to boredom and depression. But we aren’t the only ones having to deal with these dark times, children are being forced to handle this stress as well. To battle their boredom and anxiety, an unlikely group of heroes has taken up furry arms around the world.

Usually, Teddy bears fight off monsters under the bed, protecting children as they sleep. In the face of COVID, they have found a new purpose — to help children cope with the lockdown.

A Bit of History

The term “Teddy bear” originated in 1902 after then-President Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt refused to kill a bear on a hunt. His act of compassion was immortalized in a political cartoon, drawn by Clifford K. Berryman. Once the drawing made the newspapers, an immigrant couple in Brooklyn, NY crafted a “Teddy’s Bear” from velvet and placed it in the window of their candy shop.

People immediately tried to buy the stuffed bear from the couple, but they feared repercussions for using the President’s name. To ask him permission to sell their Teddy’s Bears, the Michtoms sent Roosevelt the bear for his children. Seeing no harm in it, he allowed them to use his name.

The stuffed animals became so popular, the Michtoms closed their candy shop and founded the Ideal Novelty and Toy Company. In the 1904 election year, Roosevelt adopted the bear as the mascot for the Republican party.

A New Hunt

Fast Forward to the present day and Teddy bears have once again found their way to windows, but this time, they are being used in a massive scavenger hunt for children. Parents and grandparents are taking their young ones through neighborhoods to hunt for stuffed animals peeking at them from between curtains.

Inspired by a 1989 book titled “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt,” by author Michael Rosen, this activity is giving children a break from the dreary day-to-day life of being stuck at home. For parents, the hunt is providing a brief escape, as well. All this while keeping everyone safe by not breaking any social-distancing rules.

Bears are showing up in countries from New Zealand and Canada to here at home in the United States. They are also creating a sense of community in a world that can often seem isolated, even without a pandemic forcing everyone apart.

Even those without stuffed animals to put up are finding ways to contribute. Windows are filling up with hearts, positive messages, and hand-drawn pictures. In some areas, children are using chalk to draw on sidewalks to give scavenger hunters something to look at.

Keep Them Entertained

It can be hard to explain why play-dates and school have to remain canceled, especially with younger kids. As the bear hunts show, sometimes a good distraction can be just what kids (of all ages) need to feel better. Here are a few other ideas to keep the kids occupied while under lockdown:

  • Create Your Own Hunt – write a list of items in your home the children can look for. Old toys, books, special items, anything that will keep them occupied and engaged.
  • Decorate Your Windows – Contribute to the bear hunt at home. Let them put their own stuffed animals in the windows so their friends can see them when they walk or drive by. Encourage them to draw pictures to hang up as well. This will work especially well after taking them out to hunt for themselves as they will be excited to participate.
  • Build a Fort – Kids love building forts and playhouses. Blankets, pillows, and some dining room chairs can create hours of fun for little ones.
  • Story Time – Read to your children. Not only will this keep them entertained, but you will build memories with them. If they are old enough, let them read to you, too.

The pandemic has been rough on everyone; children and adults alike are feeling its sting. Acts of kindness seem to shine like lights in the darkness. Putting a stuffed animal in a window may be incredibly simple, but it might mean so much to a child having a hard time understanding the changes in their world.

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