With the upcoming state fair, I decided to focus on farm animals this week. Kids love farm animals and many of the families in my storytime crowd have chickens or farm animals at home. There are so many great books, songs, puppets, and apps about animals, animal sounds, and farm animals, in particular, so I couldn’t miss!
We began story time with the song cube. The experienced kids demonstrated how the game works and the new-to-storytime kids sang along.
What is a farm? After a couple of songs, we came up with animals and plants (vegetables and fruits) that might belong on a farm, big or small, and who lives and works on a farm. We also told each other about our favorite sites at the local farmer’s market
While I had several books ready to read, I started with Barnyard Banter by Denise Fleming (Holt, 1994). This is one of those wonderful books where the images (handmade paper illustrations) are as energetic as the playful sounds created by the text. The book follows a goose who has wandered off in pursuit of a dragonfly (or butterfly according to the storytime kids). Each page features animals and their sounds. While all of the other animals are where they should be (“The cows in the pasture, moo moo moo…”), goose is not. Where is he?
Before turning to the first page of the story, we learned the meaning of a new word! None of the kids knew the definition of banter so I explained it and we all said it aloud.
Song: Farm Sounds
(Tune: Wheels on the Bus)
The cows in the barn go moo, moo, moo,
Moo, moo, moo, moo, moo, moo.
The cows in the barn go moo, moo, moo,
All around the farm.
… pigs in the pen go oink, oink, oink
… hens in the coop go cluck, cluck, cluck
… rooster on the fence goes cock-a-doodle-do
… ducks in the pond go quack, quack, quack
… lambs on the hill go baa, baa, baa
Credit: The Learning Pad
As we sang the Farm Sounds song, I introduced my farm animal puppets which are always a hit with the kids. Many of them wander off after I used them for the appropriate verse in this song to be loved and cuddled in the arms of a storytime child. They always make it back before craft time, so it works out.
Next we played the Animal Sounds game! This game uses an app for the iPad (Animal Sounds-Fun Toddler Game by Innovative Mobile Apps) that is designed in a flashcard style. Photo images of animals and recorded sounds are used to connect kids with the image of an animal, the sound it makes, and the written name for each animal. The way we used this app is similar to the method used by Anne Hicks at Anne’s Library Life and other librarians incorporating new media into storytime.
To play this game, I held the iPad in front of the group of kids. (We don’t have a large screen or monitor in our children’s library, so I only use apps in story time that are easy to see on the iPad screen.) I explained the game and then turned the screen towards me. I tapped on one of the animals which played the animal’s sound. We guessed which animal would make the sound we just heard and then I turned the screen to the group and we decided if we were correct. As I showed the image of the animal I pointed to the text and read the animal name. There are two images for each animal so sometimes I would show them the second image which was often a group of the animal (herd of cows vs. one cow). We talked about tricky animal names like sheep that refer to one and more than one while we played.
The animals are organized alphabetically, so before story time I went through and found all of the farm animals I could use to make them easier to select during the game. There are a variety of animals included and the additional in-app purchase of animals is worthwhile.
This is a game that is made better by joint media engagement. Playing together and the mystery generated by our guessing game left us all in giggles and made for a positive experience for a variety of age groups.
After the app game, we read Sakes Alive! A Cattle Drive written by Karma Wilson and illustrated by Karla Firehammer (Little, Brown, 2005).
This rhyming story about two cows that take off with the farm’s truck for a drive through town ends well and is a silly story featuring many of the animals we saw in earlier parts of storytime. It’s not riveting, but it makes for a nice last book in storytime as kids become tired and attention wains.
To round out the story portion, we sang a couple of verses of Baa, Baa Black Sheep using my different colored sheep. I had intended to also read Where is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox and Judy Horacek, but alas, we ran out of time.
We made barns and farm animal puppets (plus a tractor) so families could extend storytime and use the craft to create farm stories of their own at home.
To create the barn for kids I took a red sheet of 12″x18″ paper and pre-cut two corners off the top which became the roof. I then drew a t-shape in the center of the bottom of the page that kids would cut along to form the opening barn doors. I used a box cutter to also pre-cut a door near the top for the hay loft.
For my sample, I then glued a 81/2″x11″ sheet of heavy paper on the back covering the door to make the barn stiffer and to allow space for kids to glue the tractor or other animals in the doorway. I also glued a 1/8 page of the same heavy paper behind the loft door for a chicken and some green raffia (a nest). I found farm animal images in clipart and compiled them on one sheet so each child could take a sheet, color the pictures, and cut out the farm animals they wanted to add to their barn or glue on to popsicle sticks to use as puppets. Kids decorated their barn in a variety of ways, some of which resembled barns from one of the books we shared.