Sunday, 20 July 2014

Early Learning Ideas - Down on the Farm

I have teamed up with Mini Zoo to bring you a beautiful set of five farm animal figurines (giveaway has ended). Here are some of the ways my young daughters have used animal figurines and different farm related printables for play-based learning in the early years. 

Imaginative Play 
One of the great things about using figurines with young children is that it allows them plenty of opportunity to engage in imaginary play. Creating small worlds, such as a little farm scene below, helps children explore and learn through play. You can see another great DIY farm world from Fun at Home with Kids.

Vocabulary Building
For young learners, vocabulary building and early reading skills can be developed when using nomenclature cards, such as the Farm Animal cards below from The Helpful Garden. This activity encourages independent learning and allows the learner to self-correct by using the control card (cards with pictures and words).

Further vocabulary building can be done when talking about the different names of farmyard families. The Helpful Garden has a wonderful  FREE collection of farmyard family matching cards (seen below), that can give the learner a visual understanding of these different names as well as build their vocabulary.  

Using the farm animal figurines also gives the learner the opportunity to talk about the different parts of the body such as hoof, mane, tail and back for example. You can see a great idea for learning parts of a horse body from Life with Moore Babies.

Learning Sounds
For early readers, learning sounds is vital for reading success. Using the farmyard figurines, a simple the matching the sound game can be done. I started by asking what is the name of this animal and what sound can you hear at the beginning of the word dog? I then look at the letter blocks and say that this sound (pointing to each block) says "d" and this one says "w" so which sound do you think the word dog would start with?

By using the same blocks, the control cards from the previous activity and the figurines, it can provide a great opportunity for building and making words.

Story Books
Stories always get my children's attention and engage their learning. Two of our favourite books about farm animals are Proud Rooster and the Fox by Colin Thradgall and The Flood by Nigel Gary. My children have also loved reading How Big Is a Pig? by Clare Beaton, Hattie and the Fox by Mem Fox and Farm Animals DK Reader. You can see more book suggestion from No Time for Flashcards post on 21 Books About Farm Animals.

Community and Produce
Visiting a farm and learning more about what farm animals do for us will help children make the connection between what they have learnt and real life.

This also helps young learners understand where their milk and cheese comes from and how their woolen jumper is made, is all apart of learning about how farmyard animals helps us. The below printables are from The Helpful Garden.

Songs are fun for young learners and there are plenty of songs about farm animals that you can sing together with our figurines. Songs such as Old MacDonald had a farm, B-I-N-G-O, 5 Little Ducks, The Farm in the Dell, Baa, Baa Black Sheep are just a few. You can see some more songs about Farm Animals from Let's Play Music

Arts and crafts are a great way to extend learning about farm animals. There are so many great craft ideas on pinterest but here is a little paper plate piggy we have made. 

MiniZoo is the #1 website in Australia for replica animals. They stock over 4,000 individual products across 114 categories. MiniZoo animals are sourced from learning brands around the world including Schleich, CollectA, Safari Ltd and Papo, and are of the highest quality. Just like I do, MiniZoo encourages interactive and imaginative play for young children and fully supports that idea that hands on learning encourages optimal educational learning.

For one lucky reader, they will receive these gorgeous farm animals pictured below, thanks to Mini Zoo. This giveaway is for Australian residents only.

To Enter the giveaway, you will need to:
  1. Go over to Mini Zoo's website
  2. Click on the Contact Us link (see image below)
  3. Enter your name, email and phone number (optional)
  4. Then under details, tell them in 50 words or less, why you think the farm set giveaway would be great for your family

Jason from Mini Zoo will collate all the entries and draw a winner at the end of the giveaway. The winner will be announced on my facebook page as well as MiniZoo's facebook page and be contacted by email. This giveaway will end on the 3rd August, 2014.  

Disclaimer: I was supplied with the set of five farm animals for this review from MiniZoo but the thoughts expressed here are my own.


  1. Great post and giveaway! Just wondering where you got the yellow letter blocks from? I love them!

    1. These blocks are from a set called Make-A-Word by The Learning Ladder. I brought them many years ago and haven't seen them availabe anywhere. The letters are all red colour but I used a blue marker to write over the vowels.

  2. Love these. We have a few of the schleich animals but would love to collect some more real-life looking animals. We love all the ideas you have for using them. Must print myself a set of those great animal cards. Thanks. (popping over to enter)

    1. Thank you for your comment and for entering the giveaway!

  3. This is a great post with many fun activities. Off to enter the giveaway now!

  4. Coincidently I just did a post on something similar! You've inspired me all over again! Great ideas! I'm going to share it on my FB page :)