Farm Sensory Box

farm sensory box

With the start of Summer and outdoor weather, I thought the sensory  box would be put away for awhile.  But alas, Rain-a-geddon ensued so we needed to find some new indoor fun. Or rather, just upgrade some fun.  Last Summer I built Matthew this barn and farm, and I added a sensory box and toddler-approved game this year.

Sensory Box

farm sensory box activity toddler

Inclusions:

  • Popcorn for the base (already had)
  • Schleich animals (our animal of choice)
  • Tractor (a gift from Grandma!)
  • “Hay bales” (TP tubes cut in half)
  • “Stables” (Melissa and Doug play food crates)
  • Mini scoop (already had)

Total Cost: Free 

** I already had all the materials, but I suspect you’d be able to put this together for around $10-$12.  A large jar of popcorn kernels runs about $3 at Walmart, and these animals are also a good choice.)

farm sensory box

farm sensory box

farm sensory box

farm sensory box

Books

farm books

1. Sheep in a Jeep. Matty is obsessed with jeeps right now. Sheep in a jeep? Oh my.  It’s on constant repeat around here.

2. Let’s Go To the Farm. We have two copies of this book. Both gifts. Both givers know a little something about kids. We’ve read this book at least a few times a week for the past year (at least).  It’s a lift-the-flap book, so we keep a copy in the car for road trips or restaurants.

3. Chicks and Salsa. I had to review this book for a college class years ago, and I loved it. It’s hilarious. I didn’t quite know if Matty would get it, but I guess it really is all about how excited the reader is, because it’s one of his favorites now, too.

Activities

  1. Try these Montessori inspired nomenclature cards.
  2. Matty is loving this farm-themed game on the Kindle.  We’ve been traveling a lot–so he’s soaking up the app time lately.  He’s actually learning too–he surprised me the other day by pointing to a picture of a moon and saying “creshent” (crescent). Play on, Buddy. Play on.
  3. Of course, we listened to Old MacDonald a lot. A lot.  We have this download with this version of OMD, which gets a little silly at the end.
  4. Farm Picture.  I printed two each of a variety of farm-themed coloring sheets.  I cut out certain parts of the picture, such as the tractor, barn, animals, and crops, and colored 1 copy.  On a large sheet of paper, I glued the remaining uncolored copy. Then we matched and glued the colored parts onto the uncolored outline of the pictures.

farm activity toddler

toddler farm activity

toddler farm activity

He’s still loving farms and farm animals (and tractors!!!)–any recommended activities?

Montessori Inspired Farm Animal Cards

montessori animal cards printable

Nomenclature cards, or 3 part cards, are prevalent in the Montessori method of learning.  Essentially, each card contains a picture, and a label of the picture or concept to be learned.  One card normally keeps it’s label attached, with a matching card having a detached label.  Learners can then practice matching pictures together, as well as labels to pictures, with self-correction in place since they can check their work against the attached label. There’s numerous uses, but the main purpose is to teach vocabulary (or names of concepts).  There’s cards for different types of animals, parts of a flower, planets in the solar system, life cycle of a frog, etc. etc. etc.

nomenclature cards presented by The Little List

The interwebs abound with printable options (The Little List has a great repository), and there’s some very beautiful professional options (albeit a bit pricey and usually on backorder!).  I fell in love with these cards months ago, and have been looking for a similar option ever since.  I really love how the pictures stand out on a white background–that way learners aren’t distracted by things in the background of the picture and they know exactly what they should focus on.  I finally realized I was going to have to make my own, that way I could make them exactly how I wanted, and I could add to the card collection whenever I wanted (and still have them match!).

That’s easier said than done, considering the options of free pictures.  I finally sat down one Saturday and devoted the entire day to photoshopping some free clip art to remove the backgrounds in order to get these the way I wanted them (please ignore that the lamb has no feet…).  Upon printing them, I thought they did need a little pizazz though, so I matted them on scrapbook paper before using laminating sheets (I like these).

animal cards

Then it was time to play.  First, we went through each picture, flashcard style, to learn the name and talk about the picture.  Then I laid out 3 cards and asked Matthew if he could find the animal from his basket that matched the one on the card (we have all Schleich farm animals, though Toobs are a great choice, too). Uh, yeah, of course, Mom.

montessori nomenclature animal farm cards

So I laid all the adult animal cards out, and he went to work making matches. He thought this was great fun. Like the highlight of his day great fun. Some were slightly difficult, mostly because the pictures weren’t exactly like his animals–like a German Shepard dog card and a Golden Retriever figurine.

montessori nomenclature animal farm cards

I chose to make a set of mommy & baby cards, so then we talked about the names of baby animals.  I asked him to match the mom to the baby.  This took some more skill, but he really enjoyed the challenge.  Most of the baby animal figurines are new additions to his collection, so he was also very excited to explore those.

montessori nomenclature farm animal cards

After playing a few times, I put them on the shelf in the living room, so he could play again whenever he wanted, and he has! We’ve recently begun playing simple Memory using only 2-3 animals (mom and baby combo).  As he gets older and recognizes words, I can trim the bottom off to have him match the name to the picture or the animal.

 montessori farm animal cards printable free

Been looking for your own set of farm animal cards? Click here to download this set of 8 animal moms and 8 animal babies.  The quality isn’t the best, but you know, cows don’t need front hooves anyway. 🙂

nomenclature cards montessori farm animal cards free printable download

Note: Feel free to link to this page, but please no sharing the download on your own site. Enjoy!

Pssst…I’m linking up for Montessori Monday @ Living Montessori Now. Click on over for other great Montessori-Inspired ideas.

Upcycled: Cardboard Box Play Barn & Farmyard

We’ve been working on animals and animal sounds around here, mostly farm animals.  So it was only appropriate that we get a barn.  However, spending $40-$120 just seemed absurd.

Enter stage-right:

For the base, I used a tri-fold board–24″x36″.  That was a little happy accident, since 12″x12″ scrapbook paper fits those dimensions with no cutting.  I used patterned paper for a bit of flair, and cut out a pond for future ducks and a mud puddle for the piggies.  A little paint, a whole lot of Modge Podge, and a raid of my scrapbook paper completed the look.

Well, okay, it wasn’t complete without the animals.  I originally bought the Animal Planet brand animals, but once I opened the packaging, I was so overwhelmed with that delightful chemical/plastic smell that I threw the bag across the room away from the grasp of the wee-one.  After some Googling, I found out that Animal Plant brand contains high levels of lead in addition to PVC, BPA, etc., etc., etc.  No thanks.  So we went with the Schleich brand–I couldn’t find much on the company’s website except that they hold to the highest manufacturing standards…not helpful.  I did find this post which pretty much sums up my feelings on the topic, and it also helps that she personally tested 200 Schleich figurines with no detection of lead.  So we whipped out some leftover giftcards and got:

1. 1 Cow
2. 1 Horse
3. 1 Mommy Pig
4. 1 Baby Pig

For $28 bucks or so. Yikes.  But I’m sure they’ll get lots of use, make it through multiple kiddos, and have good resale potential.
Best of all, all the animals and accessories get tossed in the barn for storage, and the base folds up nice and neat.  I have plans to create other nature-scapes using the same process for other sets of animals, like Arctic animals or desert animals.

This is Matty’s birthday present, so let’s hope he likes it as much as Mommy and Daddy do!