Here’s a collection of fun farm-themed activities for toddlers and preschoolers.
Outings to Go On
Take your child to a farm park or petting zoo to see and interact with animals up close and in person. Click here for options in the Seattle/Bellevue area. In the fall, go to the fair! (state fair, county fair, etc.)
Take your child to u-pick farms. (Look here for listings of farms in the U.S., Canada, and more.) In Washington state, we pick berries June through September, apples in September and October, pumpkins in October, and more. Or join a CSA: Community Supported Agriculture farm that allows you to visit the farm.
Game to Play
Animal Sounds. Show your child pictures of animals, and teach your child animal sounds. Then ask your child “what noise does a cow make?” Praise them when they say moo. And so on. Children can often make recognizable animal sounds before they have much language, so it’s a fun way to see how much your child really understands. If you want your child to speak multiple languages, ask the question in other languages (like “Que dice la vaca?”). They will learn the answer is also moo. This helps them start making connections between meaning in the different languages.
Video of real farm animal sounds: www.youtube.com/watch?v=vuiwA4Ne_pU;
Fun animal sounds song: www.youtube.com/watch?v=t99ULJjCsaM
Snack to Make
Bread. Make yeast bread (here’s a super simple sounding option) or a quick bread (banana, pumpkin, zucchini…. ) from scratch with your child helping to measure, pour and mix. (Note: cooking with kids takes a long time and makes a big mess – remember this is more about doing a fun activity with your child than about efficiently preparing food.) Or, choose the easy route and make refrigerator biscuits where all you do is pop the tube, put them on a pan and bake.
Butter. Buy whipping cream. Take a small empty glass jar (like a baby food jar or jelly jar) and lid and put it in the refrigerator till chilled. Then fill the cold jar about 1/3 of the way with cold whipping cream. Have your child shake it vigorously for about 15 minutes. (Little ones need your help to shake it enough.) When solid lumps of butter begin to form, pour off the liquid (buttermilk) and keep on shaking until it’s solid. Enjoy! (See more details here.)
- If you want it to turn to butter more quickly: refrigerate a glass marble along with the jar, and when you pour in the cream, add the marble. When you shake, the marble helps agitate (churn) the butter. Just don’t shake it so hard the marble breaks the jar!
- If you like salted butter, just mix in a little salt at the end.(Or honey… or cinnamon…)
- If you plan to keep the butter for a few days (we always eat ours right away), follow these directions and thoroughly drain and rinse the butter before refrigerating.
Songs to Sing
Lyrics and Mp3: http://singwithourkids.com/songs/old-macdonald.htm.
Old McDonald had a farm. E I E I O
And on that farm there was a cow. E I E I O
With a moo moo here and a moo moo there.
Here a moo, there a moo, everywhere a moo moo.
Old McDonald had a farm. E I E I O
Repeat, replacing the animal names and sounds.
There was a farmer had a dog, and BINGO was its name, oh.
B – I – N – G – O, B – I – N – G – O, B – I – N – G – O,
And Bingo was its name, oh!
Repeat. On first repeat, instead of saying the B when spelling it out, clap. On the second repeat, replace B and I with claps, and so on.
Activities to Do
Match the animal. If you have small plastic animals, then find pictures of those animals (in magazines or online) and make “flash cards.” Have your child match plastic animal to its picture. Source
Egg Hunts. Hunt for eggs anytime! It’s a fun, easy learning activity.
Milk a cow. Take a latex (or non-latex) glove. Fill with water (like a water balloon) and tie it closed. Then use a pin to prick holes in the tips of the fingers. Show your child how to “milk” the water out of the “udder.” (Sources: see Pinterest)
Books to Read
Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown. Sweet bedtime book about a day on the farm, that winds down to bedtime. There are lots of details in the illustrations to talk about.
Farmer Duck by Martin Waddell. A story about a duck who does all the work till the animals rebel against a lazy farmer. Great rhythm. Just a fun story! (Even though my son is 25 now, if I just ask “How goes the work?” he replies “QUACK!” just like Farmer Duck says!)
The Little Rabbit Who Liked to Say MooAllen. Animals try out other animal’s sounds.
The Little Red Hen. There are several book versions of this classic tale. Galdone‘s is nice. If you’re making bread, this is a nice tie-in to that activity.
Poke a Dot: Old MacDonald’s Farm. This is a counting book. Each page has plastic dots you can “pop”. I’m normally not a fan of “gimmicky” books, but I think this one is great for learning one-to-one correspondence, an essential math skill.
More fun on the farm ideas at: www.pinterest.com/bcparented
For my full collection of theme-based “Fun with Toddlers”, click on “Fun with Toddlers series” in the right hand side bar. Or if you would like them in printable handout form to share with students, click here.