written by: Elizabeth Wistrom
• edited by: Amanda Grove
• updated: 8/2/2012
Learning about life on the farm is easy with this comprehensive guide. Included below is a collection of articles offering ideas for craft projects, field trips, literature selections, classroom centers and more.
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What do big red barns, rumbling tractors, mooing cows and oinking pigs have in common? Kids are fascinated by them! Bring a little country into the classroom by teaching your students all about life down on the farm! Preschool activities, lessons and more are offered in this collection of farm theme articles from Bright Hub Education.
Get your classroom learning space prepared by creating a few inviting bulletin boards. A farm theme lends itself nicely to displays of animals. One suggestion is to use your bulletin board space to allow the children to sort between farm animals and zoo animals. From there, students can dictate the names of farm animals which are featured. Another idea is to use the bulletin board display to feature images of different kinds of farms. Other suggestions in the article include a counting exercise, and a "Moovelous Work" recognition area.
Circle Time gatherings are a great way to actually introduce your farm theme to the students. This article offers a day-by-day framework that teachers can follow when developing lesson plans. Suggested topics for literature selections, cognitive thinking games, songs and even discussion questions are included.
Delving a little further into the topic, additional ideas for songs and stories are paired with craft activities. Use the students' handprints to create sheep and turkeys. Then, for a "farm grown" treat, learn how to make peanut butter dough that the children can stir, roll and shape themselves!
Center time is an important part of the preschool classroom, and centers offer the perfect opportunity for children to practice learned skills, extend their thinking and explore concepts a little deeper. Five centers are offered in all, including "Feathered Farm Friend" (where students create a farm animal out of feathers), "Cookie Cutter Farm Animals" (where students will cut farm animals out of dough using animal-shaped cookie cutters), and "Farm Animal Matching" (where students will complete a cut-and-paste matching activity.)
Here are suggestions for games and activities related to a farm theme. Each may be used as stand-alone ideas to enhance the thematic learning, or incorporated as part of your Center Time. Another way to utilize these activities is to offer them to parents as ways to reinforce learning at home.
Review the sounds that farm animals make using the book The Very Busy Spider, by Eric Carle. In the story, the spider lands, "on a fence post near a farm yard." What sounds does the spider encounter? Your students will love helping you "read" the story by imitating the sounds those animals make! You can even encourage them to pantomime how each animal might move, or where they might like to sleep.
It doesn't seem possible to learn about farms without also discussing chickens and their baby chicks! Here are three clever chick crafts which are perfect for preschoolers. One involves making paper chicks, another using model magic, and a third shows little ones how to use cotton balls to create their own fuzzy little baby chicks.
Take one plastic soda bottle, 4 toilet paper tubes, a little glue, some black and white paint, and you've got the makings of a pretty snazzy cow! This article will show you how to direct preschoolers as they build their own Bessy! Do note that a few extra "farm hands" might not be a bad idea for this creative project.
Once you've finished your herd of cows, you can keep them in line by introducing students to a farmer's best friend - the farm collie! Your preschoolers will love learning more about these furry little farm helpers. You might even consider arranging for one to visit the classroom.
When your animal crafts are complete, the children can display them together by creating farm dioramas. This article will show you how using a tissue box and stencils. For an added twist, however, you can think beyond the typical tissue box or shoe box diorama. Why not consider making the activity a cooperative one by using larger box - like one used for shipping or even packing. Then, the children can group their animals together in a display. This would present the perfect opportunity to discuss what groups of animals are called - like a "herd" of cows, and a group of baby chicks is called a "clutch."
Read-alouds are a great way to carry your theme throughout the school day. Each of the titles offered in this article are appropriate for preschool classrooms. Also included are two books which add a sound component and an interactive DVD experience.
One specific story of interest is The Big Red Barn. Written by Margaret Wise Brown, this story gives students a glimpse at life down on the farm. Preschool activities, lessons and more are offered, including learning about the letter B, creating an art project and working cooperatively to devise a class book.
A wonderful culminating activity to your farm theme is a trip to a real, working farm. In this article, you will find activity suggestions as well as learn more about safety considerations for your trip. This includes animal safety and good hygiene around animals.
While you are at the farm, what will you do? Why not spend some time teaching students about different types of food which is grown on a farm, as well as how those farm products reach their grocery store shelves? The ideas offered here will require some planning in advance, but they are sure to make a lasting impression of each and every student.
If taking a trip to a real farm is simply out of the question, you can still give your students some "hands on" farming experience. Activities in this article are designed to enhance your farm theme by allowing the children to gain some practical experience. First, students will make a basket, and then use it to collect eggs which have been "laid" by a farm hen. Teachers may use this time to discuss which farm animals have eggs, and which do not. Next, students will have the opportunity to work cooperatively to create their own butter. Yum! Use the butter to reinforce what was learned in the above lesson dedicated to food growing on the farm.
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Combine these ideas and a classroom full of curious preschoolers and you will have a recipe of success down on the farm in no time!