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October 29, 2010

Teaching Kindergarten: What’s Working? Week #10 – Farm Fun!

Farm FunFarm Fun

Teaching Kindergarten What's Working Week #10

Week 10 is all about Farm Fun! This post includes recommendations for read aloud farm books, graphing our favorite animals, “Our School Farm,” singable book, and a farm themed game.

Well, I am still out this week, but the doctor says I should be able to go back to work on Monday.  Meanwhile, I missed our wonderful Farm Fun Day at school, and also our Halloween Fun Day- two special events that I greatly enjoy and was very sorry to have missed.  But I am going to tell you this week about some fun things we did that led up to our unit on the Farm.  By the way, on our Farm Fun Day, we had a “Party Pony and Farm Animal” company come to our school and bring their farm animals!  All of the children got to ride a pony and have their picture taken on it, and also pet the farm animals.  Then we had a class photo taken with the animals.  Each Kindergarten class (there are five classes at my school!) gets a half an hour to spend with the animals, and parents are invited to come and take pictures, too.

Our PTA pays for this wonderful event, and we are very grateful to them for it!  We used to take a field trip to a local farm, but it was much more expensive to pay for the buses, and the children actually got less quality time with the animals because the farm group that allowed schools to visit used to put us into groups of about one hundred children at a time!  (Try to imagine 100 children all trying to reach down to pick up 15 chicks… it just didn’t work, and was very disappointing!)  So we no longer visit Green Meadows Farm, but we really enjoy having Bea’s Party Ponies come to our school for a few hours.

What do we do for our farm unit?


1.  We make an “Our School Farm” singable book, and learn the song. 
The children spend one or two days on each animal, depending on how complicated it is.  For example, we usually do the pig’s head on one day, and the body on the next.  We do the cow the same way, etc.  That way, no one has to be stressed about finishing up on time. You can find the “Our School Farm,” singable book right here!

Farm animals bulletin board

2.  We use the animals to decorate our bulletin boards before gluing them into the books.

We have parent volunteers colate the books together and glue in the projects for the kids after we are done displaying them on the bulletin boards.  That way, we get double duty out of the kids’ artwork!  I type up the words to the books in large print and post them on the bulletin boards with the artwork so that the kids can see it.  I also print out name labels on for the artwork on return address stickers so that the children’s names are all clearly printed on the front of each piece- and I don’t have to be the one to do the writing!  Parent volunteers can put the labels on for me.


3.  We graph our favorite farm animal and write about the farm after it comes.
Ive included two graphs for downloading this week, one for the Farm Animals, and one for the month of November. We also read non-fiction books about the animals and try to write about what we have learned about them, on a VERY basic level.

4.  We count, pattern, and sort the farm animals at the math center.  (See last week’s Pumpkin Patch counting page; we put the farm animals in the pumpkin patch and counted them.)

5.  We play Barnyard Bang!  


This is a small group game that is along the same lines as Halloween Boo!, but with a farm animal theme.  It also ties in well with Thanksgiving, since it includes a turkey that is trying to escape becoming the farmer’s dinner!  You could make your own Barnyard Bang game with your own clipart, or purchase mine as a download from my site. 

This is how you play:

1. Duplicate three sets of the picture cards, and five sets of the question cards.  Cut apart and mix up.  Put one Barnyard Bang card on the bottom of the deck.  There are blank cards at the end if you need to change the word cards.  There is an alternate set of picture cards near the end of this set if you don’t want to use the duck to practice the “duck and cover” position that is often taught to children in earthquake or emergency drills.  The alternate set just has a duck on that card.  Copy the set that meets your needs best. The question cards included cover sight words, alphabet, numbers 0-30, sorting, and ordinal numbers.  I usually choose either the math or the language arts cards.  There would be way too many question cards if you use them all, in my opinion.

2.  The dealer gives each child a card in turn.  The child attempts to read the word.  If he does not know it, there is no penalty.

3.  If the child gets a “special” picture card, he does the following:
*  “Duck and Cover” (Or just the duck):  the child says, “Quack, quack, duck and cover!” and curls up into the duck and cover position on the floor, as is illustrated on the card.  The hands should be covering the neck.  If you are using the duck only card, have your kids quack like a duck or do the action of your choice.
*  Milk the cow and get a treat:  the child pretends to milk a cow, and then wins a treat.  You may wish to blow up a rubber glove with air, close it with a rubber band,  and let the children pretend to milk the cow that way!
*  Giddy-up:  All of the children move down one seat clockwise, leaving their cards behind.
*  Duck, duck, goose:  The child points to three other children in succession, saying, “Duck, duck, goose!”  The child that he is pointing to on the word, “goose,” must change places with that child, leaving his or her cards behind.
*  Barnyard Bang:  The child says, “Bang!” and gets all of the cards at the table, except for the dealer’s cards.
*  Dinner Time:  Run for it!  The child says, “Gobble, gobble!” and runs around the table like a Thanksgiving turkey running for his life!  The child next to him that just had a turn becomes the farmer and grabs a fork, and chases him around the table.  (Remind children that they may not tackle and actually capture the turkey!  This rarely happens, anyway, since the child that just finished his turn is usually not paying close attention to the next child’s turn.  By the time he realizes it’s his turn to be the farmer and finds the fork, the turkey has already gotten too far away! 

6.  We read about farm animals.  

Crazy Pigs

My favorite farm animal read alouds are:
Two Crazy Pigs by Karen Berman Nagel

The Cow That Went OINK by Bernard Most

Cock-a-Doodle-Moo! by Bernard Most

Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy E. Shaw and Margot Apple

Mrs. Wishy Washy by Joy Cowly

Rosie’s Walk by Pat Hutchins 


7.  We do guided drawing of the farm animals. 

Guided drawing farm animals

I LOVE to do guided drawing with my students, and we do it with each unit!  When we do guided drawing, I do it whole group.  I pass out clip boards or large pieces of very stiff cardboard and have everyone sit on the floor where they can see me.  I draw on the white board, and they draw on their papers with a black fine tip marker. (Do NOT give them anything that erases or any kind of eraser, or they will never let any mistakes go!)  They are not supposed to talk at all, and no one can say, “I can’t!”  We just try our best, knowing that we are just practicing, and if we don’t like a certain section, we just ignore it and keep going.  We can always try it again.  The last rule for guided drawing is that the children cannot “draw ahead” of me; that is, they cannot guess at what I am going to say or do and then draw it before I do.  They have to wait until I draw it, while watching and listening. Then they may draw.

Child working on guided drawing of farm animals

I like to always have the children label their drawings when we are done with each picture, too.  I find that the children really like to use their new drawing skills and they pop up all over the place as illustrations for their writing or in other art projects.  I am including some of my instructions for drawing the farm animals in this blog as a free download this week.  Have fun with it!


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