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BELLAIRE • MEMORIAL • RIVER OAKS • TANGLEWOOD • WEST UNIVERSITY

Teddy Bear Hunt: Seeking Stuffed Animals and Adventure

Deborah Lynn Blumberg
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  • Mia Laviage, Charlotte Laviage,

    Jessica Laviage coordinated a fun teddy bear scavenger hunt for neighborhood kids, a compelling activity to keep kids entertained while practicing safe social distancing. Pictured are daughters Mia and Charlotte with their own teddy bears. (Photo: Jessica Laviage)

  • Abigail Ryder Nelson, Elizabeth Ryder Nelson

    Abigail Ryder Nelson, 7, and Elizabeth Ryder Nelson, 5, pointing to the bears in their Westbury home's window. (Photo: Georgia Ryder Nelson)

  • Abigail Ryder Nelson, Elizabeth Ryder Nelson

    Sisters Abigail Ryder Nelson and Elizabeth Ryder Nelson excited to participate in the Teddy Bear Hunt. Photo: Georgia Ryder Nelson)

  • Mia Laviage, Charlotte Laviage,

    Sisters Mia and Charlotte Laviage scouted the neighborhood to count all the bears in neighbors' windows. (Photo: Jessica Laviage)

  • Donovan family

    The Donovan family enjoyed a "field trip" around the neighborhood on the lookout for teddy bears (and a cup of coffee for mom Sharon Catney Donovan). Caroline, 9, Gillian, 14 and Kyle, 15, had a fun morning. (Photo: Sharon Catney Donovan)

  • Raleigh Nyboer, Rhett Nyboer,

    Ellen Kizer Nyboer walked around Meyerland with sons Raleigh, 5, and Rhett, 3 during Monday's Teddy Bear Hunt.

  • Stancel home

    Heather Stancel and her son, Georgie, 7, placed a special bear in front of their house.

  • Millie Feldman

    Millie Feldman, 8 (pictured), and her brother Grant, enjoyed spotting friends (while staying a safe distance away from each other) on the hunt for teddy bears. 

  • Friedlander home

    Bearie - and canine friend George - on the lookout for "teddy bear hunters" from Lisa and Michael Friedlander's home.

  • Mia Laviage, Charlotte Laviage,
  • Abigail Ryder Nelson, Elizabeth Ryder Nelson
  • Abigail Ryder Nelson, Elizabeth Ryder Nelson
  • Mia Laviage, Charlotte Laviage,
  • Donovan family
  • Raleigh Nyboer, Rhett Nyboer,
  • Stancel home
  • Millie Feldman
  • Friedlander home

Kids across Buzz area neighborhoods found a special surprise waiting for them Monday morning as they stepped outside for their daily social distancing family walk. The night before, neighbors tucked teddy bears of all shapes and sizes in their front windows to greet kids when they stepped out for some fresh air and fun in their neighborhood.

Southdale resident Jessica Laviage, a former third-grade teacher at The Shlenker School, set the plan in motion in her own neighborhood, and in West University and Bellaire on Saturday night, creating a unique Teddy Bear Hunt. Residents in Meyerland also displayed bears in their front windows.

The hunt is a way to keep kids safely engaged during time spent outside at a time when many local residents are practicing social distancing and sticking close to home.

Laviage was inspired by her sister who told her about her own St. Patrick’s Day neighborhood activity in Austin, where residents tacked four-leaf clovers to their doors for kids to count. Laviage’s mother also shared news about parents outside of Houston who set up a Teddy Bear Hunt in their own neighborhood inspired by the children’s book We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury. Laviage wanted to put her own spin on the hunt.

“I sent out a text to a bunch of people and said, send me a thumbs up if you’re in,” Laviage says. “My phone immediately went ding ding ding ding ding.”


Mia Laviage, 9, and Charlotte Laviage, 5, tallied the bears in their neighborhood. (Photo: Jessica Laviage)

Sunday night, Laviage created a form she sent to parents noting streets where bears would be. Kids, including Laviage’s daughters Mia, 9, and Charlotte, 5, took to the streets carrying clipboards and pencils tallying the bears they saw while keeping their distance from neighbors. 

“This is in their neighborhood,” Laviage says. “It’s local, it’s personal, and they can see all of their friends’ bears.” 

Laviage also sent parents ideas for additional bear-related activities -kids could graph the bears they found, write a news article about a bear found wandering the neighborhood, write math word problems using a bear theme or even write a poem. She hopes to hold additional events in the coming weeks, next time possibly with a rainbow theme, which families in other communities across the country have done. 

“It gives kids purpose,” Laviage says. “There’s a goal, and they might actually want to stay outside for longer.” Organizing the Teddy Bear Hunt has also been good for Laviage. “It gives me purpose too,” she says, “and joy.”

Mia Laviage, Charlotte Laviage,

Jessica Laviage coordinated a fun teddy bear scavenger hunt for neighborhood kids, a compelling activity to keep kids entertained while practicing safe social distancing. Pictured are daughters Mia and Charlotte with their own teddy bears. (Photo: Jessica Laviage)

Abigail Ryder Nelson, Elizabeth Ryder Nelson

Abigail Ryder Nelson, 7, and Elizabeth Ryder Nelson, 5, pointing to the bears in their Westbury home's window. (Photo: Georgia Ryder Nelson)

Abigail Ryder Nelson, Elizabeth Ryder Nelson

Sisters Abigail Ryder Nelson and Elizabeth Ryder Nelson excited to participate in the Teddy Bear Hunt. Photo: Georgia Ryder Nelson)

Mia Laviage, Charlotte Laviage,

Sisters Mia and Charlotte Laviage scouted the neighborhood to count all the bears in neighbors' windows. (Photo: Jessica Laviage)

Donovan family

The Donovan family enjoyed a "field trip" around the neighborhood on the lookout for teddy bears (and a cup of coffee for mom Sharon Catney Donovan). Caroline, 9, Gillian, 14 and Kyle, 15, had a fun morning. (Photo: Sharon Catney Donovan)

Raleigh Nyboer, Rhett Nyboer,

Ellen Kizer Nyboer walked around Meyerland with sons Raleigh, 5, and Rhett, 3 during Monday's Teddy Bear Hunt.

Stancel home

Heather Stancel and her son, Georgie, 7, placed a special bear in front of their house.

Millie Feldman

Millie Feldman, 8 (pictured), and her brother Grant, enjoyed spotting friends (while staying a safe distance away from each other) on the hunt for teddy bears. 

Friedlander home

Bearie - and canine friend George - on the lookout for "teddy bear hunters" from Lisa and Michael Friedlander's home.

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