Little Ones Learning: The Farm Introduction

Thursday, September 5, 2013

My family recently moved (yay Anne Arundel County!) and I started staying at home with my two daughters and my nephew.  Grace, my 4 year old just started half-day preschool, so I know I'm ready for some structure!  I've been itching to engage my own children in informal learning activities at home.  As a former first/second grade teacher, I also know that once kids go to school, things get pretty intense.  I'm not interested in pushing them to read early or anything, but I know that talking, reading, and providing experiences builds their vocabulary and understanding.  As teachers we call this "background knowledge", and once they are in school, background knowledge makes all the difference.  Plus having these little activities will help me channel my teacher skills and keep the little ones occupied (win-win-win!).

My plan is to study a different concept each week or every two weeks.  Keep in mind that the activities I'm planning cover a broad range for both my 4 year old and my 17 month old daughter and 17 month old nephew.  Some of them will be modified, and to keep life simple (my goal, I have to remind myself!), we will be flexible.  I'm working on being a more "go with the flow" kind of person, so I plan on letting the kids' interests guide our activities.   

As we inch towards fall, our first unit is one of my favorites...the farm!  My little one Ada has also recently shown an obsession with cows, so I knew she'd love it!  My objective is to have the kids build conceptual knowledge and vocabulary related to farms, including farm structures, animals, equipment, jobs, and crops.  I'll be posting some of the various activities that we're doing as we go.  At the end, I plan on compiling all the activities into a unit plan of sorts.  I'll be calling this series Little Ones Learning (aren't I awesome?!).  So here it goes!

To build background knowledge (there it is!) and vocabulary about the farm, the first thing we did was visit the library.  I searched for picture books that take place at farms and/or include farm animals.  I also found a couple simple nonfiction farm animal books and a tractor book, which have great photographs.  We brought these home to add to our own collection of board books with farm settings or characters that I knew the babies couldn't destroy as easily.  There are so many great farm books!  Here are the ones we used: 

I also set out some farm toys that we already had for the kids to play with.  They seem more engaged with toys if I switch them up every once in a while.  

This Little People farm has always been a popular toy with my girls.  I love that it makes the animal noises.  Of course, all the animals are being displaced throughout the house.  One of the farmers is M.I.A. at the moment :).

We happened to already have two different farm puzzles; one for my older daughter and one for the little guys.  As you can see, the wood one must be mighty tasty. I like to say it's "well-worn".  The other toy is a Melissa and Doug Sort and Snap Color Match.  There are a variety of animal picture cards, but the rooster fit our theme.  The kids use the snap cubes to color in the picture.  It helps with fine motor skills and color matching.  

As we read and play, I encourage the use of animal and object names and animal sounds.  We're planning a visit to the farm later this week!


  1. when you do a train unit let me know... we have a bunch of thomas stuff we can send to you.

    Very proud of you sissy! Keep up the good work... and I am glad you are going to be going with the flow :)

    Miss you guys.


  2. Thanks! Will do. With just the girls, sadly, we don't have much in the way of trains and cars. We're working on changing that though!

  3. Blending teacher-directed and child-initiated activities seems to be the best way for children to learn! This is awesome stuff!

  4. Thanks Bryan :) Let me know if you have other ideas too!

  5. How would you feel about me writing some theme-based songs for your curriculum? No pressure, if you want to use it cool, if not that's cool too...just thinking outside the box here.