The Big Red Barn, by Margaret Wise Brown, explores the barnyard. Most children love animals and the poetry in the book creates interest. The pictures are realistic. This book can introduce science themes and inspire art projects. Young children will enjoy this book.
Children can learn to identify the different farm animals. What animals are the children’s favorites? Children can construct simple graphs highlighting their favorites. Do the children know what each animal produces? Why do farmers have so many animals? Plan a visit to a farm. In fall, classes can visit pumpkin patches or cornfields. Fairs are another place that children can view farm animals. Include parents in this activity and have them bring live animals if they have them. If a parent has knowledge or owns a spinning wheel, he can show the class how it works and how it makes wool. Which animals play with one another? Do all the animals play together? Do chickens really play with horses? Where do the different animals live? Do all live in the fields? Have a game where the animals match where they really live. Chickens live in chicken coops and hay lofts. Children can become animals and move around from place to place pretending to be the real animal. Horses move in the barn and out into the field. They sometimes take people for rides away from the barn. Cows live in the field and barn.
This book can inspire many art projects from having children finger paint examples from the book to creating their own barn. Bring in a number of small cardboard boxes to represent each stall. Paste the boxes together to make the barn. Obtain hay, wool, and grass then have the children match the objects with the animals. A less complicated way is to create a barn with flaps and let the children fill the flaps with their drawing of farm animals. This is a group activity. Teacher supplies the barn with the flaps. Children can create mobiles features each of the animals, and the products they provide.
This book has rhymes and rhythms. Teachers can introduce poetry to the class. Older children can write their own poems about the farm. What words rhyme? List words that rhyme with the words.
Activities for this book are ones that help the animals come alive. Videos and slideshows can help to make the animals real, but if possible, have children experience the animals. Pony rides at fairs or carnivals enhance the story. Goats and cows produce milk. Having them drink milk, after seeing these animals can help children make the association.