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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Down on the Farm

Picture from: http://www.willhillenbrand.com/book_59.html
Down by the Barn by Will Hillenbrand is so merry.  It piggybacks on the tune: "Down by the Station" and used baby farm animals.  The farmer and scarecrow go around pulling wagons rounding up the baby farm animals for a fun time with visiting children.  The story has a sneaky fox, a lively tune, and sensational mixed media art.  I simply adore Will's art, style, and endearing stories.  
I've been using Down by the Barn with my outreach this week.  I start with this title and intro it with telling the children that the farmer and scarecrow go around pulling wagons rounding up the baby farm animals.  Each time they add a new baby animal, we add a sound.  Watch out for the fox! We need to keep an eye on that wily guy.
And we begin.  I start singing the song, stop to point out where the fox is, using a descriptive word like behind the bush, between the grass, etc. I encourage the children to say the "puff, puff, click, clank, off we go," together. I also ask them what animal is coming next.  Depending on the age of children, how large the group, and how their attention is doing, I sometimes point out the name of each baby animal, where the fox is, what the animal sound is, and so on.  
Sometimes I ask where the fox is on one page, then on the next page, tell them the baby's name, like gosling is a baby goose.  If I have a group of 1 - 3's I just sing through the book and we do each sound, but don't point out too many other details.  If it's 2 - 4's add one more detail, if it's 3 - 4's or 4 - 5's add another detail and so on.  
I even used this with a Kindergarten class and I wouldn't let them say out loud where the fox was yet, they had to wait, using a quiet thumb's up, thinking the answer, but not saying it yet, and then when I was done singing that page, they had to raise their hands and describe with a word where the fox was, no pointing.  For example - is he behind the red wagon or in front of the blue tractor? If they need help focusing and putting the answer into words, then of course, I help them with that.
This book was amazing to use with kids.  How I use it with groups of 5 to 25 is getting the children to focus on the story, to become a teller of the story, so if there's a little chatter back and forth that's OK.  Sharing a great book together does not have to be always a total quiet affair.
I also used Find the Piglet by Phil Roxbee Cox, illustrated by Stephen Cartwright; Old MacDonald Had a Farm by David A. Carter; and Are You My Mommy? by Carla Dijs.

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