“Big Red Barn”, by Margaret Wise Brown is a picture book that has rhyming text and explores rural life on a farm. It is ideal for use in a preschool or Foundation Stage setting. The activities below reflect elements of the Early Years Foundation Stage strategy.
Communication and language
In this story Margaret Wise Brown captures the different kinds of animals, how they look and how they sound. Using toy animals or a page from the book, play a memory game to see if the children can remember the different animals they have seen. Another game that can be played is describing them, such as “I am black, I have four legs, I have whiskers.” The children can then say what it is and have a try themselves. This will promote both speaking and listening skills. Discussing their favourite animals or parts of the book in a small group or as part of a class will help them gain confidence in sharing ideas.
This book has plenty of CVC words such as “hen” “red” and “big”. Some children will be able to read these words and label them. Less able children can see if they can write the initial sound when illustrating the farm. This book has a rhyming scheme and the children can identify them.
There are references to size when Margaret Brown uses the words “big” and “little” to describe the animals. This can be a starting point to draw pictures or talk about animals that are big or little. The animals can be counted on a page to help the children developing counting skills. A maths game can be set up using toy or pictures of animals to count, add, or use mathematical vocabulary such as more or less.
Understanding the world
The book shows different animals that can be seen. A topic on caring for animals and what living things need could be explored. Looking at the different animals and deciding which ones they have seen can be discussed. This story is ideal for an introduction to a farm visit. Links to night and day can also be talked about.
Expressive arts and design
Using toy farm animals will allow children to recreate scenes from the book. They can use the toy animals or construction to build their own farm scene from the book and a photograph could be taken of this for their profiles. Old boxes can be used to make a big red barn and scenes from the book can be brought to life through painting, drawing or sketching. Singing animal songs is another way of linking music to the book. The cutting and sticking activities also covers physical development because the children have to take care and show hand eye coordination.
In conclusion, Big Red Barn is a fun book for young children. The story line makes it accessible to the foundation stage allowing children to develop confidence in several areas of the curriculum.