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under5s - down on the farm
Down on the Farm

What better way is there to introduce children to the world around them than through personal experience? Do the children in your care know that the egg they had for lunch came from a chicken, and the milk they drink at bedtime was from a cow - or do they think it came from Safeways?

There are lots of farms in the countryside to explore and even small city farms that you can discover - and this year is a particular important year to visit one, as they need our support following the foot and mouth crisis.

What better way is there to introduce children to the world around them than through personal experience? Do the children in your care know that the egg they had for lunch came from a chicken, and the milk they drink at bedtime was from a cow - or do they think it came from Safeways?

There are lots of farms in the countryside to explore and even small city farms that you can discover - and this year is a particular important year to visit one, as they need our support in light of the foot and mouth crisis.


A great way to introduce the farm and animal topic is by providing children with a range of typical farm animals to play with, help them drive the tractor around their pretend farm, feed the animals and move them around. Talking about the different noises and sounds that you might hear. 

Donít be surprised though if they do pile all the animals on the back of the tractor, and take them off and dump them in a pile - my three year old thought thatís what happened on the farm, as that was the images he remembered from last years television coverage.

There are so many books about farms, that you could spend weeks discovering the delights of the farm animals, the ďUsborne Farmyard talesĒ are great as during your visits to Apple Tree farm, there are clear pictures with lots to look for and talk about.  Why not take the opportunity to introduce factual books at this stage - the local library is sure to have some on offer about baby animals, how lambs grow up, farm machinery and more. 

Why not pay a real visit to a real farm ? Yes, there are scares about children catching diseases from farm animals - but go prepared - arm yourself with a packet of baby wipes, so you can wipe the childrenís hands immediately after touching an animal, if they are likely to put their hands into their mouths. Make sure you wash your fingers before eating, and most farms have areas in which you can wash your hands easily - or simply go to the farm to look.
Talk about the animals you meet - What sound did the animal make? Was it a happy sound? What does his tongue feel like? What is your favourite animal? What food comes from this animal? Have you got any of them on your farm? 

These questions will help to feed the children's imagination. Then their farm at home will take on a whole new meaning, and they are making scientific observations about their environment.


Did the children have a favourite animal on the farm, or a favourite experience - now is the time to draw out their ideas with artwork. A painting or collage of their favourite animal, displayed on the wall, is a great way to show how meaningful the day was. 

There are some great ideas for making animals on the DLTK-KIDS web site. We made some paper plate lambs.

Or how about recording the days experience in a scrap book - if you have taken pictures during your trip, you can easily refer to it, talk about the animals your child met, and help them to decide what to write. This is a great way of introducing early literacy skills, as you are helping them produce their very own book.

Donít forget of course to continue playing with the toy farm; perhaps you could add a new cow or tractor bought at the farm shop with their own money to enhance their play experience.


 

Helen Renouf
Nursery Nurse (NNEB)
Registered Childminder


Fact File: 

Farms to visit

Farmer Palmers
Poole, Dorset
http://www.farmerpalmer.co.uk

Longdown Dairy Farm,
Ashurst, Hampshire
http://www.longdowndairyfarm.co.uk

Books

Usborne Farmyard tales
http://www.usborne.com/farmyard_tales/farmyard_tales.asp
 

under5s - down on the farm
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