Read, Play, Learn: On the Farm
Read, Play Learn: On the Farm
Due to my background in education, and the years I spent teaching in a Early Years setting, I have been unable to resist applying some of that experience to raising my own child – hence this series of ‘Read, Play Learn‘ posts where I put together books, toys, sensory materials and learning around a specific theme. (this is the first post, but I plan to make them a regular feature)
I am really excited about teaching my little one all about the wonder of the world. My partner just shook his head and laughed when he came home to find me making flashcards, art and themed sensory boxes during my maternity leave!
My plan is to group together books and resources about a particular topic, then revisit them at various points as Jellybean gets older, adding extra activities each time. For that reason, there are a mixture of activities suitable for babies, toddlers and early primary-aged children.
Let me know if any of these resources are helpful or if you try any of the activities!
Any recommendations for books or activities would also be very welcome.
I tend to plan ahead for each topic by ordering lots of books from the library that match the theme. I have also organised our own collection into themed boxes and am always keeping an eye out for books on sale that match certain themes.
Here are a few books you might want to add to your child’s collection to do with the farm:
Why is play important? Play is essential to development because it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children.” (American Academy of Pediatrics, quoted on PsychCentral) Play allows children to develop skills, practice turn-taking, rehearse real-life and much more.
Why is sensory play important, in particular?
Simply put, engaging the senses is the best way to build connections to support other learning.
How often have you had your memory sparked by a specific smell or song?
Experiencing things with more than one sense helps them to stick in your head.
According to Educational Playcare, “Providing opportunities for children to actively use their senses as they explore their world through ‘sensory play’ is crucial to brain development – it helps to build nerve connections in the brain’s pathways.
This leads to a child’s ability to complete more complex learning tasks and supports cognitive growth, language development, gross motor skills, social interaction and problem solving skills.”
See more about sensory play and some easy ways you can incorporate sensory play into your day.
Here are a few fun sensory play activities themed around the farm:
Wash the Muddy Animals
I spotted this idea over on The Imagination Tree.
Materials needed: A chocolate pudding (Angel’s delight, custard or equivalent), some farm animal figurines, a tray to contain the ‘mud’ and a basin or bucket filled with water and washing up liquid. Optional extras include shredded wheat for hay, an edible herb such as rosemary for grass and sponges or scrubbing brushes for washing up.
Activity: Read the book Mrs Wishy-Washy or watch the video below, then show the children the ‘muddy’ animals and they can wash them using all of the different brushes.
Paint the muddy pig
This idea was spotted on Teaching 2 and 3 year olds.
Materials needed: Pig picture, large ziplock bag, brown paint, shaving foam.
Activity: This is great for little hands. Simply pit the picture and some paint inside the ziplock bag with a few squirts of shaving foam and let the children squeeze and smoosh to their hearts’ content. If you want you can take the picture out and let it dry to keep it.
Farm small world play
I took inspiration for this from the Frugal Fun 4 Boys blog here.
Materials needed: Tray/Box, Unpopped popcorn, juice carton, farm animal figurines, cups or scoops for pouring, toy tractor or trailer.
Read about the benefits of small world play.
Activity: Once you have set up the activity tray let your toddler get stuck in, pouring the popcorn. It’s important that all sensory play using small objects is supervised, especially if your child is still putting things in their mouth.
Hide the animals
I spotted this on Busy Toddler and it’s so quick and easy!
Materials needed: Large plastic box, muffin tray, farm animal figurines, rice, scoop.
Activity: Put the animals in the muffin tray and cover them in rice or another sensory material – let the children uncover the animals to rescue them. A fun next step might be for them to design an ideal habitat for each animal using natural materials and ‘loose parts’, such as lollipop sticks, moss, etc.
Gross Motor Animal Movement Cards
I spotted these on Modern Preschool. (Free but requires signing up to the newsletter)
You could easily create your own too, using drawings, stickers, etc!
Materials needed: Card, pictures of animals
Activity: Associate a movement with each animal, then write it on the card. You could take it in turns to flip them over and do the movement, stick them on a dice to play or hide them around the garden.
A fun variation that we used to play in my gymnastics gym was to call out an animal, movement, colour and body part e.g. slither like a snake, find something yellow and touch it with your elbow. The children had to complete the action, then return to the coach.
All of the ‘play’ activities above are really learning so separating these sections feels a bit artificial, but here are a few educational activities you could also include:
Farm vocabulary cards – I print these double-sided and use alphabet beads and pipe cleaners to make the word, then trace it with your finger and write it using a whiteboard/dry erase marker.
Find the alphabet letter on the muddy pig – free printable here. This requires a little bit of prep as you will need to print and laminate the pig cards, then brush over some watercolour brown paint and let it dry. The children then use paintbrushes and water to ‘clean off’ the ‘mud(watercolour paint) to reveal the letters. Fine motor skills and letter recognition in one go!
Farmyard families – Three-part naming cards as used in Montessori nurseries – a great way to explicitly introduce new vocabulary -free printable here.
Farm animals initial sound-matching – free printable here.
Farm-related sentence and picture matching (Year 1 level)
Animal-themed tens frame cards – free printable here.
Counting 1 – 10 printable (free but requires signing up to a newsletter)
The blog post accompanying this suggest using a bingo marker to count, but I think that I might use counters and a peg to mark the answer. Using pegs for activities such as this helps your child to develop their fine motor skills.
Farm addition within ten – free printable here (free but requires signing up to a newsletter)
Farm animal pattern printable (free but requires sign up to newsletter)
Barn Shape Matching Cards – click here to download.
5 Red Apples Printable– listen to the song below if you’re not familiar with it.
I have linked a few resources and videos below – obviously it will depend on which language you are hoping to teach your child, but there’s no harm in trying out a few languages so children can begin to appreciate the similarities and differences between them.
I have linked French, as that is what most children will learn in school, as well as Japanese, Chinese and Italian because those are the languages we speak in our family. I have linked Korean and German because I am attempting to learn them right now – Korean for fun and German because Jellybean’s grandparents on her father’s side live in Austria.
French animal matching cards (free download of printable)
French animals from Learn French with Alexa – we often use these videos in school as she has a massive selection of topics and it is great for teachers who aren’t feeling the most confident about their pronunciation. She leaves pauses for the children to repeat, which is great in the classroom.
Japanese version of the Animals on the Farm song (in English in the music section below):
Names of 10 farm animals in Japanese:
Animals in Chinese – this is great for pronunciation, as well as the fact that it shows the Chinese character and the pinyin (romanized spelling) which helps it to stick in your memory.
This one is a bit cheesy, but good fun – farm animals in Italian. I like how it is presented in full sentences which allows some learning of agreement, verbs, etc at the same time, avoiding the problem many learners face when they learn lists of nouns but cannot use them in sentences.
Farm animals in German – a bit dry, but has animal sounds which children may enjoy imitating:
Animals in Korean – this one is a bit dry, but most of the others I found on Youtube were a bit too advanced for beginners. I liked that this has the romanization of the hangeul too.
Gross Motor Farm Animals cards, mentioned above.
Farm-themed yoga (suitable for toddlers)
Music/ songs to do with the farm
Other videos that may be fun or useful:
Animals and prepositions/spatial concepts with Jack Hartmann
Visiting a farm videos
In an ideal world, all of your learning about the farm would be accompanied with and topped off by a visit to a real farm as nothing can beat that experience. However, these videos could help your little one to know what to expect to allay fears or help them remember what they saw, smelled and experienced at the farm after a visit.
Read-alouds of farm-related books
Are there enough resources there to get you started?
Have you any fun ideas that I have missed?
Please recommend any favourite activities or books around the topic of farms.
If you try any of these activities out or find them useful, please let me know. Is there any topic that you would like to see in future posts?
There are some links to additional resources below:
- Lots of free resources from Little Owls Resources here.
- See free resources from TeachersPayTeachers here.
- See lots of printable resources on Twinkl (£ -requires subscription)
- See a plethora of suggestions for learning based around farms on the Visit My Farm website.
Thanks for reading!