Saturday, October 19, 2013

On the Farm Unit for Toddlers - Part 1

"On The Farm" is such a timeless, classic theme for kids to explore. My goal for this week was for Zahavah to learn more about farm animals while having fun. She of course knew of several farm animals and their noises prior to the beginning of the week so adding "new faces" was a must.  She loved most of the activities but the "Artsy" ones were the biggest winners. I must also mention that although we initially planned on spending one week on the topic, we ended up spending two! :)

Finger Painting Spots on White Cow
Art: Finger Painting a Cow

At almost three years of age, Zahavah loves art. There is never enough painting activities so I made sure there would be lots of variety this week. Older toddlers/preschoolers seem to love working with their fingers, hands and feet so I try to provide these opportunities often. Here, I supplied a "white cow" and black washable tempera paint. All my daughter had to do was to paint black spots onto that cow using her fingers. She loved the feelings of the paint on her digits! :)

Creating Farm Scene Stickers
Art: Creating a Farm Scene with Stickers

Stickers are another item I cannot seem to stock enough of. For this activity, I chose "Cardstock stickers" made by PaperHouse. They are thicker, bigger and peel off very easily from the sheet. Zero frustration process. :) I also liked that they featured "real" pictures, not drawings of farm animals. Zahavah created her scene on a drawing printed off of Free For Kids.

Mothers and Babies Matching Farm Animals
Mothers & Babies Self-Correcting Puzzle

Made by Educa, this puzzle has been in our collection for a few years now but it was the first time I let Zahavah try it. It usually is on the higher shelves, accessible only to adults and big brother Adrian. She was VERY happy to get a "big girl" puzzle and worked on it everyday. This puzzle features farm animals but also a few pets and some wild animals. I love these self-correcting puzzles. :)

Farm Animal Figures and Pictures Matching
Match these farm animals to their picture

In anticipation for farm week, I purchased two Safari Ltd. toobs (farm animals and farm babies). During the entire two weeks we spent on the thematic, they were out everyday for various activities. For the one above, I simply put all the animals in a basket and put a picture of each in another. Zahavah then had to match each animal to their picture (printed off of a key found on Living Montessori Now). Earlier in the week we of course "studied" the animals to make sure each and every one of them was known by name.

I Spy on the Farm Map
Language: I Spy at the Farm

Who doesn't like playing a little game of "I Spy...?"? With this cute (and real!) farm map, I questioned Zahavah as to where I should go to find the sheep, the cows, the hens, the ducks, and so much more. It was fun and she felt so proud being able to find all these animals. It was a very nice vocabulary review for the beginning of our farm week.

Spooning Corn
Practical Life: Spooning Corn for the Farm Animals

Spooning corn, beans and other dried legumes is somewhat traditional in Montessori classrooms. This was the first time Zahavah tried her hand at spooning dry goods from one bowl to another so I chose a bigger and deeper spoon and bigger and deeper bowls. She did very well, dropping few kernels.

1:1 Farms and Farm Animals
Math: 1:1 Correspondence Farm Animal and Barn

1 to 1 correspondence is a nice way to introduce math to toddlers. It prepares them to math and they usually love the activities that come with it. Here, I provided a "grid game" with 20 barn and 20 farm animals. When done properly, each animal has its own barn (they are put on top of it) and the basket is empty. Zahavah was very careful (the Safari Ltd. farm animals fitted just right on each square) in placing her animals with a good control of movement.

Handprint Footprint Peacock
Art: Footprint, Handprints and Digits Peacock

Totally in love with painting, Zahavah tried every single painting activity suggested during the Farm Unit. This included the beautiful peacock you see above, originally seen on Sweet and Lovely Crafts. We started with a footprint, then added four handprints, followed by several index finger prints. The final touches such as the goggly eyes, beak and legs were added once the paint was completely dried. Zahavah LOVED making this peacock and using all these colors. We usually stick to one color per painting so this was very special to her! :)

Farmyard Poem Basket
Language: Farm Poem Basket

Farm "Week" brought us our first poem basket of the year! For the occasion, I picked "Farmyard", a simple, descriptive poem perfect for toddlers Zahavah's age. To go with the poem, I prepared a few pictures of what the poem refers to as well as animals encountered in the poem. I also prepared our "pointer" using a wooden dowel and goggly eye to point to each word dot as we read. I'll be honest, Zahavah was more interested in my "wand" than the poem. Hmpfff.

Farm Animal Footprints in Dough
Farm Animals and their Footprints

Using Learning Resources' Jumbo Farm Animals, we made footprints in the play dough. I simply let Zahavah discover what footprints the animals made at first and we discussed who made big prints, small prints, and eventually, I prepared the prints you see above and Zahavah had to find the animal that made the prints! :)

Handprint Sheep Collage CottonBalls
Art: Handprint Sheep Collage

This is actually a craft that Adrian did last year. :)  I remembered it and thought Zahavah would like to make her own sheep as well. We basically painted her hand in black and stamped it onto the paper. Then, she stretched cotton balls and dipped them into liquid glue before gluing them onto the sheep's body. We finished by choosing a goggly eye and a ribbon that we also glued on.

Farm Books Toddlers
Zahavah's Farm Book Picks

During farm "Week" we read quite a few books related to farm animals. Zahavah picked her favorites here.

Top 5 Farm Books according to Zahavah, Nearly 3 years old

My Big Farm Book by Roger Priddy
(Loved the real pictures and the quiz questions!)

Maisy's Morning on the Farm by Lucy Cousins
(I love Maisy Mouse...All the Maisy Mouse books)

Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown
(This one has animal noises and lots of animals in it and rhymes!)

Barnyard Banter by Denise Fleming
(Lots of animal noises and colorful pictures. Mama asks me to look for Goose)

Chicken, Chicken, Duck by Nadia Krilanovich
(A funny book where animals do a pyramid on top of one another)

Honorable Mention:
Polo a la ferme by Ginette Anfousse (French book)
(I like the entire Polo collection. This one shows mommy, daddy and baby farm animals and calls them all by name. I like looking for Polo the mouse on every page.)

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  1. We did a farm day once with Noah. He was so thrilled by it. I love your ideas for the hand print sheep and the corn scooping. I need to remember those.

    1. I think children love farm units. They usually know farm animals and the noises that come with it so it's very appealing to them. I build on that and make an entire week (or in this case 2). I'm not surprised to hear your little one love his farm day. Have fun with the next one(s)! :)

  2. We did a farm unit a few weeks ago, and loved it! Love your ideas...pinning them for use next time around!

    1. Great! Always happy to be of help and seeing the ideas being useful to other people! :)