For young children who are currently being kept in captivity due to coronavirus, some Mitchell parents are trying to create a bear-driven diversion.

It’s estimated that more than 100 Mitchell homes and businesses have put out stuffed bears or other animals in their front windows and steps to provide an attraction for families that might head outside for fresh air during the coronavirus pandemic.

The stuffed creatures in the windows allow kids a sort-of scavenger hunt on walks or drives while considering social distancing.

The idea is based off the 1989 book “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt,” a popular children’s picture book written by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury. In the 30 years since the book was published, more than 9 million copies have been sold. In the book, five children and a dog go out to hunt a bear and travel cross-country before coming face-to-face with a bear.

If participating in the bear hunt in a car or truck, finding an audio version of the book or story online can allow the book to be read as children play along. It has also become a searchable hashtag on social media. In other cases, individuals have placed bear drawings or colorings in their windows.

Ashley Sand is one of the mothers who is helping promote the bear hunt idea and has passed the idea to friends.

“I just posted it on my Facebook and I know there’s a lot of communities around that are doing it,” she said. “It’s just a good idea to give the kids something to do and creates a sense of community during this time.”

A Mitchell mother of two — ages 5 and 3 — Sand said her children went on two “hunts” on Monday. The bear hunt idea is one that has become viral in these times of social distancing and self-quarantine. Sand said she got the idea from a friend in Tea, and others in Mitchell have shared the message.

“It’s just so fun for them,” she said. “The kids can still interact with neighborhoods. The places we visited had people waving in the window. There’s so many bears that are out there.”

Professionally, Sand is a third-grade teacher at Gertie Belle Rogers Elementary in Mitchell. She said that her 5-year-old son has had a lot of questions, because children haven’t been able to visit their grandparents, who also live in Mitchell.

“We always are able to see our family, so he’s had a lot of questions and we’ve driven by and waived,” she said. “We’re keeping them busy, and it’s been doable. I certainly miss my students at school, as well.”

Sand said one element she’s found to be successful for her children is keeping a regular schedule every day.

“I’m doing teaching and we’ve got a bunch of scheduled stuff, starting at breakfast and doing activities in the morning before lunch. My kids are younger and we’re trying to keep them moving and active.”

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