Unless we live on a farm, one of the opportunities we want to provide our children with is the enjoyment of farm animals. There is nothing like seeing them, petting them, or simply watching them in person. And frequently, the young child finds it difficult to connect the actual farm-food-providing animal with the fluffy illustration in his picture book. Of course, a farm not only concerns itself with animals, but also crops — frequently to provide feed for the animals. Here are suggestions for exploring the farm:
- The best way to learn about farms is to visit a farm in your area that gives tours. Sometimes you’ll find a local petting zoo, or a portion of your zoo that is devoted to farm animals, where children are welcomed to touch, watch, and learn.
- Make a farm notebook. Include a page for each farm animal or crop as you become familiar with it. You can also include farm implements.
- What type of farm activities do you expect to find during each season?
- Several farming parables and proverbs can be found in the Bible; for example, sowing/reaping, harvest, wheat and tares, building barns, putting our hands to the plow, and working with diligence. See how many you can find. Choose two or three to copy and illustrate.
- There are many farm processes that make a product for our table. Narrate how one of these processes works, detailing the path from the beginning of the process to the plate. Milk, cheese, bread, a hamburger, etc. are all options, but the most widely used example is pizza, which is completely made up from things of the farm!
- Dogs and cats often live on farms. Learn what their roles are. (You’ll find helps below.)
- Raise your own. Obviously this is not an option for everyone! But for those who have the space, there is nothing better for youngsters than learning how to care for animals themselves.
Click on the various parts of the Veterinary Medicine College Teaching Animal Unit to find out about your favorite farm animals.
Video tours at AgClassroom.org.
Farm Animal Nomenclature
Lots of ways you can use these identification cards at MontessoriForEveryone.com (under Nomenclature Cards).
4-H Virtual Farm
“Discover why farming is part of your life even if you have never lived on a farm, never seen crops grow in a field, or never touched a cow.” Visit a horse, aqua, beef, dairy, poultry, or wheat farm at the Virginia Tech Extension.
Living History Farm
What was farming like in the 1920s? 1930s? 1940s? 1950s-1960s? 1970s-today? Wonderful interactive site that covers everything farming through time. (Use the sidebar on the left to navigate through the different time periods.)
Uses of Farm Animals
Worksheet/chart at the Livestock Conservancy to get students thinking. Includes cats and dogs for help with the suggestion above.
29-page download from Agriculture in the Classroom filled with farm-related math activities.
Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown
A favorite author takes a look at farm life in simple easy-to-read verse. Perfect for the youngest.
Along Came a Dog by Meindert DeJong
A story by a beloved author about the friendship between two outcasts: a dog and a hen. Very accurate depiction of chickens on a farm.
Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder
In the way that only she can, Laura Ingalls Wilder describes farm life in New York in the 1800s.
Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher
A pampered city girl finds she enjoys her new life on the farm. Farm life scenes depicted include making applesauce, and maple sugaring. This free public domain version retains the original text and illustrations. Wonderful read!
Storey’s Guide to Raising…
If you are ready to try your hand at raising farm animals (small- or large-scale), you might find this series of books by Storey Publishing very helpful. Series includes goats, pigs, chickens, cattle, ducks, turkeys, sheep, and horses, among others.
Unit Studies & Lesson Plans
Farm Animals Lesson Plans
Preschool plans at PerfectlyPreschool.com that cover the farm animals and the products that come from them, along with the responsibilities of the farmer. Lots of crafts and activities for the youngest.
Free Nature Studies: Our Daily Bread (Wheat)
Portion of our free nature studies that covers wheat farming.
Free Nature Studies: Sheep and Their Shepherds
Portion of our free nature studies that covers sheep.
Printables & Notebooking Pages
What’s Really Happens on the Farm?
Poster from Agriculture in the Classroom.
Barn Shape Book
At EduPlace.com perfect for copywork, narrations, or summing up.
Down on the Farm
Fun and free set of notebooking pages at NotebookingNook.com.