Old Mikamba Had a Farm

Written and Illustrated by: Rachel Isadora

Before Reading

Old Mikamba Had a Farm introduces children to a different version of "Old McDonald", with Old Mikamba and all the animals that he has on his game farm in Africa. Talk to your child about what s/he sees on the cover and in the illustrations. If your child is very young, answer these questions yourself and describe what you see. 

Make Observations.

What do you notice?

I see two lion cubs, do you see them? Can you point to them?

What sound does a lion make?

Prior Knowledge

Talk to your child about "Old McDonald" and ask what kinds of animals he had on his farm. As you list the animals, ask your child what sounds they make and talk about some of their general characteristics. For example, say, "What kinds of animals did Old McDonald have on his farm? And what sound does a _____ make? That's right! Are ______ big or small animals?" If your child is not yet verbal, provide the answers to these questions yourself.  

As You Read

Sing this story to the tune of "Old McDonald" and if your child is verbal, have him/her sing along with you! For the animals that your child knows, encourage him/her to fill in the blank "and on this farm, he had a _______" by looking at the illustration and determining what animal is next. Also, ask your child to point out the baby animals vs. the mother animals. Say, "I see a baby cheetah, can you point to the baby cheetah? Good work! Where is the mommy cheetah? There she is!"

Vocabulary Building

The first time reading this story, you may choose to read all the way through without stopping. On subsequent readings, introduce your child to the new animals that s/he may not know like the SPRINGBOK and DASSIE. Refer to the descriptions of each animal in the back of the book for more information.

Making Connections

Allow your child to connect this story with experiences that s/he has had.

For example, talk about the last time that your child visited the zoo. Point out the animals that s/he saw there and any interesting things that the animals were doing or that s/he learned.

After Reading

Summarize and Interpret

Talk with/to your child about the story by asking questions like:

What was your favorite animal? Can you find it in the book? What sound does it make?

What is your favorite animal sound?

Do you think Old Mikamba likes having a farm with all of these animals? Why or why not?

Activity: Simon Says: Animal Style


Play Simon Says with your child, acting and sounding like the different animals that you and your child read about in the story. Start off with some of the animals in the story and then branch out to include more animals that your child knows like cats and dogs. Instructions may include, "Simon says... act like a baboon... act like an elephant... sound like a chicken!" 

Parent's Corner

Instilling a love for reading in your child at a young age is the best way to make him/her a life long reader. But what happens if your child doesn't like to read or can't sit still during story time? Zoobean's Chief Mom says just to just keep reading! No matter how frustrated you may get or how many books you have to get through, you just need to find your child's perfect book. Read more about what Chief Mom did to get her daughter interested in reading.