On the Farm

Ages 2-4

Curator Rebekah K.

Curator Rebekah K.

Why I Created This Guide

When I was about 3 or 4, my best friend in the entire world was an elderly farmer named Mr. Mann. He gave me my first job, pulling pill bugs off the plants in his field. He even paid me for it! I’m sure that I only “worked” for a few minutes; but, I felt I was doing an important job and earning money as a “farmer.” Many of my preschool days were spent outdoors in our large garden with my father or visiting many of the farms that surrounded our small Iowa town.


Spark Their Interest

There’s something exciting about riding to the farm, anticipating a visit with cows, chickens, goats, and horses. Consider visiting a farm soon to see some of the animals. If you live in the country, see if there is a farm that has something new and unique to learn about. If you aren’t close enough to visit a local farm or pumpkin patch, check your nearest farmer’s market for fresh vegetables or nearest zoo to see if they have small farm animals at their petting zoo.

LocalHarvest provides an informative page about visiting local farms and a search that allows you to find farms in your state or zip code.

Hop onto the Farm Aid website to read about Farmer Heroes.

The following books and activities can be used to learn about farms or to build excitement before your next visit to the farm.

 

Did You Know?

Farms come in all shapes and sizes. From small urban farms to huge ranches, farms are where anything that can be grown and sold or traded is grown.

Goats are an animal from Asia, they came to North America on a ship called the Mayflower in 1620. Goats need goat friends, so farms that have goats have at least two goats. A baby goat is called a kid.
There are more than 2 million farms in the United States.
Even though cows are large farm animals, they only eat plants.
Horses are related to zebras.

Books About Farm Animals

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Rosie’s Walk by Pat Hutchins

Ages 2-5

Pat Hutchins’ Rosie, the oblivious hen, strolls through the farm while the lurking fox figures that he has a tasty meal within his grasp. Will Rosie escape?

 

Interactive Reading:

Use this nearly wordless book as an interactive story to practice using prepositions as descriptive language.

  • When Rosie walks across the yard, explain that across means from one side to the other. Then say, “Let’s pretend we’re Rosie and this room is our farm yard. How will we walk across the yard? Remember chickens bob their heads when they walk.”

  • When Rosie walks through the fence, explain that through means to move in one side and out the other. Demonstrate by walking through a doorway and saying, “Let’s walk through the fence with Rosie.”

  • Continue walking with Rosie over, under, past, and around objects. When you walk or ride in the car, use prepositions to describe where you are. For example, you could say, “We are walking through the park.” As you walk past a tree ask, “Are we walking past the tree or through the tree?” If your child uses an incorrect preposition, simply re-explain the word and provide the correct preposition.


The Cow That Went OINK by Bernard Most

 Ages 2-4

Have fun with two “bilingual” farm animals who help each other when other farm animals make fun of cow.

 

Interactive Reading:

After reading The Cow That Went OINK, talk about feelings.

  • You could begin a conversation by turning to the page where animals are laughing and say, “Cow oinks like a pig and the other farm animals laugh. How do you think Cow feels?” Then ask, “How does Cow feel when she hears Pig say Moo?” “How do Cow and Pig feel at the end of the book when they are bilingual?”

 

Extend the Story:

Act out the story with stuffed animals or sock / paperbag puppets. Use the puppets to speak for Cow and Pig. When you ask, “How does Cow feel when the other animals laugh at her?” your child can use the cow puppet to share his or her thoughts about how Cow is feeling. To make cow and pig paperbag puppets you will need:

  • 2 paper bags (lunch size)

  • scissors (safety scissors for small hands)

  • markers / caryons

  • construction paper

  • a glue stick

What to do for a cow:

  1. Cut out a pink circle for the nose and cut out two brown floppy ears

  2. Turn the paper lunch bag upside down and glue the pink circle to the flap on the bottom of the bag

  3. Glue the floppy ears onto the paperbag, one on each side of the bag

  4. Draw eyes, nostrils, and spots on your cow

What to do for a pig:

  1. Cut out a pink cirlce for the nose and cut out two pointed pink floppy ears

  2. Turn the paper lunch bag upside down and glue the pink circle to the flap on the bottom of the bag

  3. Glue the pointed floppy ears onto the paperbag, one on each side of the bag

  4. Draw eyes and nostrils on your pig


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The Cow Who Clucked by Denise Fleming

Ages 2-5

Can you help Cow find her moo? Make The Cow Who Clucked an interactive read by repeating “It’s not you who has my moo,” with Cow as she clucks to the other animals while trying to find her lost moo.


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Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy Shaw

Those crazy sheep are off on an adventure. While pushing their jeep down a steep hill, pulling their jeep out of a mud puddle, and finally being stopped by a tree, the sheep teach us about motion.

 

Extend the Story:

After reading Sheep in a Jeep, explore motion and ramps together. What you will need:

  • Toy cars, balls, and building blocks

  • Wooden builing blocks and ramps or items around the house, like cardboard

  • A carpet square or a rough material

  • A tile square or a smooth item such as a piece of poster board

  • A ruler

  • pen and paper

What to do:

  1. Set up ramps at different heights

  2. Set up some ramps to roll onto a smooth surface and for others to roll onto a rough surface

  3. Start your exploration by saying, “The sheep were on a hill that was steep. If we roll this car down the steep ramp, how far do you think it will go before it stops?” Record estimates, then roll the toy car down the ramp and measure how far it rolled. Compare your measurement to the estimate.

  4. Ask, “What can we do to make the car roll farther?” and “What can we do to make the car stop sooner?” Use carpet and other surfaces to see the changes in how far the car will roll.

  5. Try different set ups, estimate the distance the car will travel by asking, “How far do you think the car will roll?” then measuring how far the car rolls with different height ramps and different surfaces.

  6. Next, try the same estimates and experiments using a ball and then using a building block. With each item and set up ask, “Do you think this will roll as far as the car?” or “Do you think this will roll farther than the car?” Follow up by asking, “Why will the building block not roll as far as the car?” Accept all thoughts so your child knows you are interested in continuing the experiment to see if he or she is correct. Afterward say, “You thought the building block would not roll as far as the car because ____. Were you right or wrong?”

Adapted from the National Science Teachers Association  Sheep in a Jeep Lesson Plan


Books about People on Farms

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Old Mikamba Had a Farm by Rachel Isadore

Ages 2-3

… and on this farm he had cheetahs, zebras, and elephants. Mikamba’s farm is an African game farm. Farms come in all shapes and sizes around the world. Use the tune to “Old MacDonald Had a Farm,” and sing the Old Mikamba and his animals instead.

 

Interactive Reading:

While reading Old Mikamba Had a Farm, stop before each animal’s sound to ask your child about that animal’s sound by saying, “What sound does the giraffe make? Can you make that sound?” Then make plenty of noise together as you roar with the lions, snort with the warthogs, honk with the wildebeests, and whinny with the zebras. Younger children may prefer to discuss one or two animals at a time, rather than all fourteen animals in the book. After a few readings, your child’s vocabulary will have grown to include some new animals, like the dassie, and some new animal sounds.

 


Pete the Cat: Old MacDonald Had a Farm by James Dean

Ages 4-8

Follow Pete the Cat as he drives his tractor around the farm and sings about all of the farm animals he sees. You can sing along with Pete the Cat & his groovy version of the all-time favorite.


Rainbow Stew by Cathryn Falwell

Ages 2-6

This is one visit with Grandpa that will not be ruined by a rainy day. Grandpa will make rainbow stew on this dreary day; but, where will he find all of the colors of the rainbow for his rainbow stew? In the garden, of course!

 

 

Interactive Reading:

As you read Rainbow Stew, take time to note the colors of the vegetables together. Ask your child, “Which rainbow stew color do you like?”

 

Extend the Story:

Plan to grow the vegetable from Rainbow Stew that is that color. If you don’t have outdoor garden space, you can grow it in a pot on your porch or in the window sill. What you will need:

  • 1 clay pot

  • Fertilized soil

  • Seeds

  • Water

  • Nature journal

What to talk about:

  • How much dirt do you think we will need to put in this pot to fill it to the rim? Record estimates in your nature journal, even if the estimate seems unusual. Weigh the pot, then fill to the rim with dirt and weigh it again to find out how much dirt you needed to fill the pot. Record the answer in your nature journal and talk about how close everyone’s estimate was to the amount of dirt needed.
  • How many days do you think it will take for our seeds to sprout? Record estimates in your nature journal, then record the number of days it took the seeds to sprout. Talk about how many days it took and how close everyone’s estimate was.

What to do:

  1. Read instructions on the seed packet and explain them to your child by listing the steps you will need to take together
  2. Fill the clay pot with fertilized soil
  3. Poke two or three holes in the soil
  4. Drop a seed in each hole
  5. Cover the seeds with fertilized soil
  6. Water according to package directions
  7. Record what you did together in your nature journal -- ask your child to draw what you did and decide together what you should write down for how you planted the seeds
  8. When your plant sprouts record the date in your journal, draw the sprout, and decide together how to describe what you observe, then record regular observations  -- if you cannot observe and record information every day, try observing and recording every two or three days

A Visit to the Farm by Lara Bergen, illustrated by Dan Kanemoto

Ages 4-8

Little Bill’s class visits the farm at the right time to meet the new farm babies.

 

Interactive Reading:

Read A Visit to the Farm and see if you can remember the names of the baby animals that Bill and his classmates see on the farm.

 

Extend the Story:

Some of our favorite animals on the farm are baby animals. Let’s name them all. Printable fllashcards can help your child remember the animals that are in bold. Print a set of farm animal flashcards to match the babies with their mothers or play a fun game of memory.

  • A baby cow is a calf

  • A baby sheep is a lamb

  • A baby mouse is a pinky

  • A baby dog is a puppy

  • A baby horse is a colt or a foal

  • A baby duck is a duckling

  • A baby rabbit is a kit

  • A baby turkey is a poult

  • A baby cat is a kitten

  • A baby goose is a gosling

  • A baby pig is a piglet

  • A baby llama is a cria

  • A baby chicken is a chick

  • A baby goat is a kid


Media Resources

Ella Jenkins “Who Fed the Chickens”

Interact with Ella Jenkins by responding to her questions, “Who fed the chickens?” “Who stacked the hay?” and “Who milked the cows?” You and your child can sing, “I did!” with Ella. Like so many of Ella Jenkins’ songs, “Who fed the chickens” is easy-to-learn and will fast become a favorite for you and your child.

  • In this recording, Ms. Jenkins notes that we are using pronouns and she walks us through understanding the connection between gender and the appropriate pronoun. You probably noticed that your child had difficulty matching people with pronouns. That’s a normal step in language acquisition. Using Pronouns -- Mixing Up He, She, and It from  “What to Expect” suggests narrating your day for your child with clear pronouns, modeling pronoun use instead of correcting him or her when the wrong pronoun is used, and playing “I Spy” using pronouns. I suggest adding singing to this list. Use Ella Jenkins’ “Who Fed the Chickens” as a fun way to practice using pronouns.

 

Storyteller, Diane Ferlatte, has a lively version of Old MacDonald on her Knick Knack Paddy Whack 2 album. Available on iTunes.

  • Before listening to Old MacDonald ask your child, “What is your favorite animal? What sound does your favorite animal make? Do you think Old MacDonald will have your favorite animal on his farm?”

  • After listening to Old MacDonald ask your child, “Was your favorite animal on Old MacDonald’s farm?” If not, sing your own verse of Old MacDonald.

 

Great compositions are good for language development. NPR has a recent article on the benefits of music. Schumann wrote a whimsical piece commonly known as “Happy Farmer.” Listen to the piano piece and to Chicago’s St. Charles North High School Wind Ensemble play “Variations on a Theme of Rober Schumann ‘The Happy Farmer’” by Robert Jager. Show your child pictures of farm animals, using an app such as "Peekaboo Barn" or "Bizzy Bear on the Farm", pause the music at soft, fast, and loud spots in the music and ask your child, “What farm animal does this (soft, loud, high) music sound like?”  Model thinking about the music by playing a loud, quick segment, pause the music and share with your child, “This loud music sounds like loud chickens on a farm.”


Kids Jigsaw Puzzles Farm App

This jigsaw puzzle app provides simple puzzles of farm scenes. Set difficulty level to match the thinking skills of your preschooler by selecting 2 to 16 piece puzzles.

  • If this is an introduction to puzzles, select a 2 piece puzzle and help your child notice the shapes the edges of the pieces and how the two pieces have sides that will meet.

  • While working the puzzles together, identify the animals in each scene and ask your child, “What sounds are these animals making?” and “What are the animals doing in this picture?”

  • Build vocabulary and help your child look for details by pointing to items in the picture, like the silo, windmill, fence, barn, pitchfork, and doghouse, and asking your child, “What is this other thing in this picture?” and “What do you see? Is the line on this fence long or short? What color is this barn?”

Introduction with limited puzzles Free on Google Play and iTunes

Complete set of puzzles $2.99 on Google Play and $1.99 on iTunes


Farm Animals for Toddlers app

Use this flashcard app to introduce animals, their shapes, and their sounds.

  • As you use the flashcards, focus on the skills that match your child’s learning level.

  • If he or she is learning the names of farm animals, use the flashcards to focus on the names by asking him or her, “What animal do you see on the screen?” Support their attempts by pointing out the features of each animal and saying, “This is a picture of a cow. We know this because cows have a long, wide face.”


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The chickens need a spaceship.

  • While helping Peg and Cat build spaceships talk about shapes. Some of the shapes in these jigsaw style puzzles are circles, triangles, rectangles, and trapezoids. Call shapes by their correct names whenever possible so your child is familiar with the names, even if he or she cannot remember them.  

 


PAW Patrol Pups Save the Farm- Online Game

PAW Patrol Pups need to gather the crops before winter arrives. Three and four year olds will practice mouse skills and following directions.

  • In the game that requires building a ramp to move apples from the top of the hill to the basket waiting at the bottom of the hill, use terms like left, right, and ramp to build vocabulary. For example, say, “To move the apples down the hill, into the basket, we need to build a ramp. Do we need to move this section to the left?” Demonstrate moving the section toward the left after you ask so your child so he or she begins understanding the difference between left and right.

  • Extend this game by building ramps with building blocks and re-creating the PAW Patrol Pups game at home.


Baby Einstein: Baby MacDonald A Day on the Farm

If you cannot get to a farm this season, enjoy the sights and sounds of the farm with older children interacting with farm animals.

  • Interact with the video by identifying the animals together and talk about what the animals are doing. For example, ask your child, “What are these horses doing?” Follow up by talking about the different things the animals and machines on a farm do.


Big Bird learns that food doesn’t come from cans, bottles,boxes, or the supermarket; but, foods grow on farms. On his visit to the farm, Big Bird learns that farmers plant seeds to grow the food we eat.

  • Interact with Big Bird: Before watching Big Bird Visits a Farm ask your child, “Where does food come from?” If he or she thinks food comes from the kitchen or the store, you can say, “Let’s find out.” If he or she knows food comes from a farm, you can say, “Let’s watch Big Bird learn that food grows on farms.”


For Family Movie Night, Check Out...

The Fox and The Hound
Charlotte’s Web
The Adventures of Milo and Otis

You can talk about friendship with all of these movies by asking, “Why are these characters friends?” and “Who are your friends?”

Note: There are some scenes in each of these movies that might be difficult for children who are sensitive to sad scenes.

 

Interactive Activities: Fingerplays

Children ages 2 to 4 are building their language daily. Rhyme becomes a fun component of a growing vocabulary. Explain to your child that rhymes are words that have the same sound or end in the same sound. Introduce rhymes using family names or favorite objects. For example, you could say, “Two words that sound the same make a rhyme. You’re a girl & you have a curl in your hair, you’re a girl with a curl. Girl and curl sound the same at the end, they are a rhyme. What other words rhyme?” or, “Two words that sound similar make a rhyme. This stuffed animal is your favorite bear. Let’s hide him & ask, ‘Where is my bear?’ Where and bear sound alike, they’re a rhyme.” Then play hide-and-seek with the bear asking “Where is the bear?” a few times.

Ask your child to listen for rhymes as you do fingerplays. The rhymes will not always be words that are said in pairs, they could be in different lines of the finger play.

 

Here is the Barn

Here is the barn (Make a barn by interlacing fingers of two hands inside palm of hands)

Open it wide. (Open hands, keeping fingers interlaced)

Let’s go inside where the animals hide.

Here are the horses, here are the cows. (Wiggle fingers)

They’re eating their dinner and drinking right now.

They’ll stay here till night turns into day.

When we open the doors, they’ll all mosey away. (Separate hands and wiggle fingers as you move your hands apart)

Out in the pasture, they’ll eat grass and hay.

The cows will moo softly, the horses will neigh.

~ adapted from Library of Michigan Early Literacy

 

This Little Cow

(Hold up five fingers)

This little cow eats grass. (point to thumb)

This little cow eats hay. (point to pointer finger)

This little cow drinks water. (point to middle finger)

This little cow runs away. (point to fourth finger)

This little cow does nothing at all (point to pinkie finger)

But lie around all day.

~ adapted from Library of Michigan Early Literacy

 

Here is the Barn

Here is the barn (form a roof shape with hands)

Where I like to go (walk in place)

It’s as tall as a tree (point up overhead)

And cozy, you know (hug body with arms)

 

Here is the barn (form a roof shape with hands)

I’ll go there with you (walk in place)

To pet a sweet lamb (pretend to pet)

And cuddle it too! (pretend to hug)

~ Library of Michigan Early Literacy

 

After reciting a fingerplay, ask, “What rhymes did you hear?” Repeat rhyming lines together and ask, “Which words rhyme in this part of the fingerplay?” Encourage answers by responding to incorrect answers with “That’s a good guess, let’s try those two words together.” Repeat the non-rhyming words and ask, “Do these two words sound the same?” Then re-introduce rhyming words by emphasizing the rhyming words and saying “I think wide and hide sound the same, they both end with ‘ide.’ Wide and hide. Listen for them again.” If your child is having difficulty matching rhyming words, try introducing rhymes again in a week or two.


About Rebecca K.

An insomniac since 1979, Rebekah has filled her nights with books & history. Rebekah's earliest memories are of watching documentaries, reading books, and playing Candy Land late at night with her dad. Is it any wonder that she doesn't consider being a librarian and teacher a job? During her fifteen years, in college and K-12 libraries and 10 years in English, ESL, and History classrooms, she has spent her days talking about books and history, sometimes at the same time. Rebekah says, "I love pairing readers with books that are a perfect fit. I feel like I have won a war when a reluctant reader returns to tell me they hated reading; but, after reading a book I recommended, they stay up with a flashlight to read until the page is blurry."

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