This week we turned to farm and farm animals for inspiration.

Baby L is 15 months

Tot School

I still haven’t found any nice trays, so I continue to use some inexpensive plastic baskets that I found at Targets Dollar Spot as my “tot trays”.

Tot Basket:  Farm Animals & Barn.  I dug out a bunch of farm animals from our animal bin and added those to the basket along with an old fisher price little people barn (it still moos! =))

I followed her lead in playing for a bit, narrating what we were doing and what animals we were using.  I showed her how to sort our animals into families (since we have several cows, pigs, etc) and encouraged her to find specific animals from the basket to join the family we were building.  She consistantly got the cow, but none of the other animals.

Vocabulary: animal names, family, animal sounds, barn, sort

Tot Basket: Mix and Stack Farm

This was a good activity for Baby L this week.  She didn’t quite get that first you put on the legs and then the body of the animals with 2 parts, but getting them threaded on was challenging, but doable.  We have the plan toys geometric sorter stacker thingie and the multiple posts per shape is too hard for her at 14 months.

Vocabulary: barn, cow, pig, cat, chicken, duck, stack, hole, peg

Zoo Trip.  We went to the zoo with all the cousins on Friday last week, and just did a quick run through the farm area.  We went back this week, just me and the kids so I could get Baby L out of the stroller and into the petting pen.  She got to run around a bit in the goat pen and stroke thier fur then she pet a chicken and bunny.  No pics of that because I didn’t have enough arms to help her pet them appropriately while holding her and work the camera as well. 😉  I remember the first time we took Kidlet there when he was about the same age; we didn’t even take him out of the stroller, just rolled into the goat pen and when one came up, he was terrified!  Not Baby L — she was laughing and happy and kept asking for more (asl) when I would make naaah naaah noises.  We were at the zoo about 90 minutes and spend about half that in the farm section.

Cousin P, Cousin M, Cousin F, Baby L and Kidlet on the tractor at the farm in the zoo.

Tot Basket: Counting and Sorting Farm

3 fabric animal “pens” have a velcro closure to open and sort the soft stuffed animals inside.  “1” is a little nest for the chicken. 

Baby L enjoyed this toy a lot.  She didn’t really sort well, but she enjoyed the stacking and the make believe barnyard play with animal noises courtesy of mama.  I suspect that we will be seeing this toy several times in the future; besides being cute, its definitely useable in a number of ways and will “grow” with her skills for a while.

Vocabulary: stack, open, animal names and sounds, numbers 1-4

Crafts: Animal Stickers with Barn Printable (I used just the first page and trimmed off the side);  Dot Stickers with Cow Template

Baby L really likes lift the flap type books, but is still too rough on them so I don’t have them out yet, aside from a few we had left from when kidlet was little that are already in not so great shape.  So I thought we’d make our own lift the flap picture.  I took green mulberry paper and glued it on cardstock to make a field, and then printed out a barn.  I cut it out, leaving a little on the sides to make the tab to glue it down, and then cut it down the middle so it could be opened up.  I helped her get stickers off the sheet and encouraged her to stick them to the paper (tapping it with my finger and verbally) and she did all the sticking herself.  She enjoyed the stickers a lot, and kept asking for more.

The finished picture.  She has played with it since, opening and closing the flaps as well as pulling off and trying to re-sticker with the stickers.

I had planned to add spots to the cow with a dot-a-dot marker, but after trying out the Crayola Tadoodles first markers which are very dot-a-dot like, only shorter, rounder and made even more for toddler hands, and having her eat them, smear them everywhere (looked like she had a black eye!), and mostly making lines rather than dots, I switched to circle stickers from my desk drawer.

Vocabulary: animal names, animal sounds, open, closed, lift, circle, spot

Felt Board: Little Red Hen

Kidlet read this book to us earlier in the day, then Baby L and I played with the felt board (I had purchased this felt story several years ago) and I re-told the story in very abbreviated form.  She’d giggle every time I said “NOT I!” in silly voices for each character.  We talked about what was in each picture, and mama made animal sounds. 

Vocabulary: Hen, Cat, Pig, Goose, Chicks, Wheat, Bread, Grind, Eat, Bake

Animal Matching Game from Creative Learning Fun’s  Etsy Store.  The pack is definitely geared more for preschool, but I thought the little countrified animals were so cute when I saw them on her blog that I thought I would run them through the xyron and make stickers; I would always have the .pdf for a farm unit later on when the actual activities were more age appropriate.   While I *could* have made the activity pages, found free clip art, etc, the time I would have spent is well worth the measely 5$ that I paid for it.  Plus this way the clip art is all the same style, and just plain cute! =)

I ended up printing out the animal matching game — well, PART of it.  I picked the cow, chicken and pig.  That would be plenty for her age and they were very different in colors (I figured she would easily confuse the sheep and cow for instance).  I used clear contact paper to make them a little more sturdy, then cut them so they would line up cleanly without contact paper hanging over the matching up edges.

Let me say that I had no expectation that Baby L would be able to make them line up.  I put the three faces in a row and then mixed up the bodies and legs.  She DID pick up the bodies  and legs and get them put on the right pile though (most of the tiem).  Also exciting — I would tap the pig or chicken and ask her what it was, and she didn’t have anything to say.  I would tap the cow though and ask and she did say “kuh kuh kuh”.    I tried this out on some of our plastic animals later and she was definitely trying to verbally identify the cow!  (Of course  someone might point out that “Kuh kuh kuh” is also how she says “car” and “cat” and “kiwi” — I say, Don’t Rain on my Parade! ;))

I’d also agree that we need a little tot sized table; working at high chair isn’t much fun.  Maybe next payday. 

Vocabulary: cow, chicken, pig, match, head, body, legs

Pot Band.  The plan was to give her a selection of kitchen pots and pans and large spoons and let her go to town.  I had planned to sing “Old MacDonald” and “Fiddle-i-fi” while I showed her how to bang in rhythym to the music.

This did not happen.  I had a headache on the day I’d scheduled this, and just couldn’t face it.  Instead we used her shakers that we made a couple weeks ago.  We danced, shook the shakers, and sang those songs.  Kidlet heard us and had to come join in.  I guess technically with Kidlet there it wasn’t 1 on 1 and thus not “tot school”; but it was fun! =)

Others: See and Say Farm (inherited from my SiL), Baby MacDonald Video (another legacy item from 5+ years ago when Kidlet was an infant/toddler) which we watched together and talked about what we were seeing, Farm Sound Puzzle (far too difficult, and mostly mama helped her get them in the holes so she could hear the animal noises), V-Tech Sit to Stand Walker Farm Version (the electronic part comes off from the walker) and Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Learning Farm  (the last 2 items are out in the living room normally, so not really a special totschool activity), Fridge Farm;  I had no idea we had so much farm stuff!

Nursery Rhymes:  Looked through mother goose for animals rhymes, such as:  “Higglety Pigglety, My Black Hen”, “Baa Baa Black Sheep”, “Little Boy Blue”, “To Market, To Market”, etc

On topic snacks this week: Used mini cookie cutter animals to make ham and cheese stackers in the shape of cows, pigs and sheep; tinted cream cheese green, spread on 1/4 graham cracker and then stuck animal cracker on the “grass”; Pig Sammies, (nitrate free) pigs in a blanket; Homemade trail mix {“pig slop”} in a paper “trough”; Pear Mice

New sign: Cow.  Form your right hand into the letter “y.”  Place your thumb against your temple. Twist your hand until your little finger points upward. 

On topic books we read this week: Little Lamb,  First Farm, Little Red Hen, Touch and Feel Farm, Tickle the Pig, Big Red Barn, Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?, Good Morning, Good Night, Quack, Quack, and The Petting Farm Poster Book which we picked up at the Zoo, Click, Clack, Moo

I couldn’t find a link for First Farm; I’m sure its no longer published.  We bought that and “First Words” in 2004/5 when Kidlet wasn’t much older than Baby L is now.  They are board books with simple photographs of objects and animals, many in vibrant colors.  They remind me of DK publishing books (although these were done by Paradise Press).  Anyway, she really likes these two books and will bring them to us over and over.  She has recently gotten into the habit of touching each item on a page (multiple times even) so we can tell her what each object is.  Sometimes I will switch it up and ask her “where is the [whatever]?” and she is able to pick out more and more things.  It’s really amazing to see how much she is learning and changing.

Find more terrific tot school posts over at 1+ 1 + 1 = 1