This year, I tried to come up with a variety of farm related books - a few classics and a few wildcards. I was looking for especially fun, exciting and unusual books to hold my kids' attention. Here's what we came up with:
Duck on a Bike - This is a great funny book about a duck who rides a bike. All the other farm animals think that duck is ridiculous, but they all end up riding bikes too. What preschooler wouldn't love farm animals on bikes?
The Cow Who Clucked - This was a cute story about a cow who lost her 'moo.' She walked through the farm looking for it, asking every animal that she meets on her way - she does eventually find it. Great repetitive lines for students to help read aloud. We used animal figurines with this book as props during our readings - the kids loved helping to tell the story.
The Little Red Hen - Just a classic storybook that I remember from my childhood. The Little Red Hen is such a hard worker, but her friends are more interested in being lazy...
Old Macdonald Had a Farm - Another classic! I have the board book version of this story. The pages are durable, pictures are simple and the cutouts between pages are fun (each page reveals more animals than the last). My toddler loves the book and so do my preschool students. We usually sing Old MacDonald while we go through the book.
I Went Walking - Super simple little book great for practicing colors and animal names. We enjoyed recreating the story in our own class book and making our own 'animal parades' during playtime.
Little Blue Truck Board Book - I got this book on sale some where a while back. My toddler loved it and I just thought that some of my 'truck obsessed' preschoolers would enjoy it too. Great combination of trucks and farm animals, every little boy's dream - right? We used animal figurines again, a yellow dump truck and a blue truck (that I had hastily spray painted) as props during our readings. Then we took the story to the sensory bin and play it out there too.
Color Farm - Full of colorful geometric pictures of farm animals. A nice addition to our usual farm book collection...
Who Sank the Boat? - This was a cute book that I picked up at a yard sale over the summer. The kids thought it was funny to see the animals walking upright (the illustrations are very funny!) and getting into a boat. It was a great intro to a little science experiment on sinking and floating.
Silly Sally - Just a great 'silly' book with funny rhyming text. Silly Sally meets lots of farm animals and does lots of ridiculous things on her way to town. We had fun trying to act out the book. Unfortunately, no one could walk backwards, upside down.
Barnyard Banter - Bright lively illustrations with lots of farmyard noise! A fun quick read that is always a hit.
Moo on the Farm - I don't normally like sound button books, but this one is an exception. It's well made with thick board book type pages and realistic (and pretty loud) farm animal sounds. The sound quality and volume of these sorts of books usually falls short for my students who have varying degrees of hearing loss -- this book, however, was loud enough and good enough quality for every one in my class to hear and discriminate between the sounds.
The Very Busy Spider - I do love me some Eric Carle! Just an all around classic children's book with some great farm animal illustrations.
There are so many fun Farm Themed activities that my preschool students love. Most of the activities in this unit are great for listening practice and aural rehab activities since there are so many learning to listen sounds! Here are some of our activities and ideas for speech, language and listening:
Farm Puzzles: We've got a whole collection of farm puzzles available for the kids to explore. The favorites are the Melissa & Doug sound puzzle and the Melissa & Doug barn puzzle with opening doors and magnetic pieces inside. I collect a wide variety of puzzles because I have a wide span of abilities in my classroom - some puzzles have pictures on the board to match the pieces to, others don't, some have knobs or handles etc.
Puzzles lend themselves great to listening and language activities! Receptively we work on choosing animal pieces based on sound, name, description etc. and following increasingly complex directions. Expressively, students can name a piece before choosing, give directions to a peer or teacher or tell where they're placing the pieces.
Farm Lacing Beads: I inherited these farm themed lacing beads from a teacher before me. They're a nice addition a couple of times a year to the morning tray work options. The farm set is pretty small, so I added some generic people, tree and pig shaped beads too.
Sometimes we use the beads as props for when we sing Old MacDonald or another farm related song; we add the correct animal bead as we sing or take off a bead as we sing - depending on how I'm feeling that day and what skills we're working on.
We also use them for listening activities to practice following increasingly complex directions (i.e. first string the farmer, second string the pig and third string the barn OR I want the barn, farmer and horse, then the tractor and the pig).
Farm Sounds Bingo - This is a great listening game. I think I picked it up at Walmart a while back for less than $5! Although it comes with enough game cards for each child to have one, we usually play as a group or two teams of 2. The CD has 5 different tracks of the animal noises (in different orders) with a few seconds between each animal noise; I usually pause it between sounds to let the kids have more time to find and cover the correct animal. The sound quality is good and I can turn it up as loud as I need to so that everyone can hear it well.
Sound Books - I mentioned this book above in my book section. Here's one of the ways we've used it this week. I put painter's tape over the sound buttons so that they could still be pressed, but the students couldn't see which animal they were pressing. We practiced listening to the sound and finding the animal in the book, then we'd peel back the tape to see if we were correct. Super simple, but surprisingly engaging!
Feed the Pig - This was one of our fine motor practice trays this week. I think I got the feed the pig game from Lakeshore Learning a while back. It's like a lot like this game. I added a handful of green, yellow and white pompoms of different sizes to supplement the little corn cobs that came with it. I provide both a scoop and tongs for the kids to use, since the tongs really frustrate some of the kids. The goal really is for them to work on their fine motor skills - so, for some kids that simply means picking up the pieces one at a time using a pincer grasp, for others that means using the tongs to transfer the items. The kids practically fight over this tray!
Farm Animal Figurines - Of course I switched out the zoo animals for farm animals! We've been using them for story telling activities and during playtime! When I can, I get the kids to use them for other things too -- like lining them up to make letter F for Farm!
What are you favorite farm themed activities for you little ones?