Preschool Years at Home

Laughing, Loving, and Learning Together

Down on the Farm

on April 24, 2012

A girl and her farm

We began the day with a trip to the library, where the cubs enjoyed story time and helped select books for the week ahead. Then, with triple-digit temperatures on the horizon, we came home to spend as much of today (with highs “only” in the low 90s) outside as possible.

I’d gotten a free Melissa & Doug Farm Blocks Play Set a few months back and tucked them away with our farm theme in mind. We pulled them out of the closet this weekend, but quickly discovered that the blocks did not work well on carpet. So this morning, we decided to try them on the flat, relatively smooth surface of the sidewalk. As you can see from the picture above, we had much more success building there.That said, I was left with mixed sentiments regarding this product.

The blocks are cute, and both the cubs and the kids next door enjoyed playing with them for the better part of an hour. The play set was not as open-ended as I would have liked. (Much like a puzzle, the buildings could be assembled only one way.) That said, Little Bear’s  puzzle-loving playmate had a blast trying to figure out how to assemble them, while Little Bear opted to play with the more open-ended fence and animal pieces. It’s worth noting that all of the pieces were quite small. The barn was only about six inches high and could hold only one animal; furthermore, the chicken coop was not designed to accommodate any animals (much to the consternation of certain little farmers). Overall, the blocks proved a fun morning activity, but didn’t earn a permanent spot in our toy collection.

We continued our farm-themed fun by pulling out our Duplo tub (which includes the Lego Duplo Ultimate Farm Building Set) and building a variety of barns, animals, and tractors with it. Although Duplos are one of our always available toys, they held the kids’ interest much longer than the wooden farm blocks. I realized after the fact that I failed to photograph this morning’s creations … perhaps because I was too busy building alongside the kids.

We paused from our play long enough for lunch, rest time, and story time. Today’s read-alouds included …

1-2-3 Farmyard

A winning hand

Next, we pulled another new game 1-2-3 Farmyard! off the shelf. Little Bear loves games, and this one was no exception. That said, like many moms, I tend to play kids’ games out of obligation and was surprised to actually enjoy this preschool game.

The game is made up of animal cards (representing numbers 1-6), empty pasture cards, and a single wild card. Players begin with a hand of six cards, then draw and discard to achieve one of four objectives. In the first variant, players seek to build a hand that includes one of each animal card. Little Bear grasped the game play concept quickly, proving real competition the first hand and winning the second. In the second variant, players draw and discard cards to make a farmyard with animals that add up to 10. Little Bear loved this variant as much as the first. In the third variant, players create a farmyard with only odd or even numbered animals (not a concept we’ve covered). In the fourth (and in my opinion, simplest) variant, players build a farmyard with their two favorite animals.

After three hands and two variants of this game, Little Bear was begging to continue playing, and I quit only because Baby Bear was demanding my attention. Of the two dozen or more preschool games we own, this one is easily makes our top five favorites list and might edge out Richard Scarry’s Busytown as Mommy’s favorite. According to the box, the game is for children ages 4 and up, but at 3 1/2, Little Bear could easily play three of the four variants. At the same time, there’s enough variety and strategy to the game that I could see her playing it just as happily at 5, 6, or even 7.

The only negative aspect of the game, in my opinion, was that the cards were printed on cardstock instead of chipboard. I suspect this game will get enough use to warrant replacement a couple of years down the road.


In other farm fun, the girls played with our Melissa & Doug Farm Sound Blocks again today, and Baby Bear was still captivated by them. Little Bear played with her Alex Toys String a Farm, while singing a verse of “Old MacDonald” for each animal she added to her “necklace.” Little Bear also completed farm-themed cutting and tracing activities.

Wrapping up the day’s excitement, Little Bear pulled out her ABC Duplos for some free play this evening, while I attempted to get some work done. Minutes later, she called out, “Mommy! Come see! I made the word ‘cat’!”

… In the past, she’s had a tendency to stick random letters on the board and call them words, but when I looked in on her tonight, she had indeed succeeded in spelling the word “cat.” “Bug,” “dog,” and “hen” soon followed. Slowly but surely, my little book lover is becoming a little reader.

"I made the word 'cat'!"

Three-letter word success

One Response to “Down on the Farm”

  1. Rachel says:

    Great post! I also love that you linked to the different books! Very helpful.

    I’d love if you’d like to link up to my Teaching Time for Toddlers post!

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