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Neighborhood "Bear Hunts" Are Keeping Kids Entertained While Social Distancing

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If you've run out of ideas to keep your kids occupied and happy during the coronavirus outbreak, please take note of a new trend neighborhoods are doing called "bear hunts." By placing teddy bears in their windows for little ones to find, neighbors are helping keep kids entertained and having fun while social distancing

The idea appears to have stemmed from the 1989 book by Michael Rossen called We're Going On A Bear Hunt, the story of five kids and their dog who decide to go wander through forests to hunt down a bear. They eventually find the bear in a cave and run home to hide, but the idea of wandering outdoors to find a bear seems to be the concept that stuck during the coronavirus outbreak.

Shanna Bonner Groom, a mom from the Stewart Springs neighborhood of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, told TIME that she saw the idea making the rounds on social media and then shared it with her own neighbors. "Within hours, everybody was responding and wanting to join in. Everybody’s trying to enjoy this time at home with each other but do social distancing at the same time. So we’re trying to come up with some fun activities," she told the news outlet.

Across the country, the word has spread. There's a bear hunt in progress.

"Something uplifting to share during the crisis," one person shared on Twitter, alongside photos of a teddy bear in the window, and called the trend "a sweet idea."

Indeed, people are taking part in the bear hunt by placing their teddy bears in windows for kids to see as they go for walks through the neighborhood, practicing social distancing even as they connect with each other.

"Kiddos in my hometown are going on a 'bear hunt,'" another shared on Twitter. "Neighbors were asked to put their teddy bears in the window for them to spot."

Some people are taking the bear hunt to the next level by setting up tea parties on their porch. "When your neighborhood does a Bear Hunt & asks everyone to put bears in their window for the little ones to count on their walks," one person tweeted. "I decided a tea party was in order instead."

The bear hunt has become a delightful new addition for people who are at home with kids during this extended period of time as schools and day cares are closed across the country. Like one woman who took her little brothers out for a walk and "found over 10 bears lurking and waving us by."

The bear hunt is doing more than bringing neighbors together while social distancing and doing more than entertaining little ones home from school. As CTV News correspondent Daniele Hamamdjian put it, "Explaining to a 4yr-old why playdates aren’t allowed anymore is heartbreaking, so 'Going on a Bear Hunt' during our walks is the distraction we needed."

There might be loads of bad news happening around the world today. But there are also teddy bears popping up in windows all around the country and little kids going outside for walks to find stuffed animals waving at them.

If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all of Romper’s parents + coronavirus coverage here, and Bustle’s constantly updated, general “what to know about coronavirus” here.