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A Farm Unit for Early Intervention Special Education Programs

A Unit that Supports Developmental Milestones in Young Children


A Farm Unit for Early Intervention Special Education Programs

The duck cutting art project


Full day early intervention programs and self-contained programs often meet the same needs. The students in these programs need to continue to focus on building vocabulary, fine motor skills, following directions and other "learning to learn skills" that will support either functional skills or later academic development.

Much of traditional American language and culture reaches back to our shared agrarian past. What child has not heard the three little pigs? Why pumpkins at Halloween, when we no longer grow them in our gardens? Why do we attribute certain characteristics to animals (pigs, cows, etc.) that most Americans do not see on a daily basis? Yet to fully participate in popular culture, it is important to understand a little about our shared agrarian past. Many people in the baby boom generation are only a couple of generations away from the farm. What about today's children?

Model schedule

This model schedule is designed for an early intervention program, but could easily be adapted for older groups that are working on the same skill set.

  • Opening meeting (20 minutes)
  • Academic block (45 minutes)
  • Craft or Art Activity (30 minutes)
  • Group time/story time (20 minutes)
  • Lunch/recess (60 to 75 minutes)
  • Group time/music time (20 minutes).
  • Center time (60 minutes, or 10 to 15 minutes in each center.)
  • Closing time (15-25 minutes.)

Pictures Books for the Farm Unit

These books by Doreen Cronin and Betsey Lewin are great fun and favorites with children of all ages. You can use them to support vocabulary building.

  • Cronin, D and Lewin, B. (2000) Click, Clack, Moo (Simon and Schuster: New York) The first book to introduce duck and the cows on Farmer Brown's farm, the animals go on strike for electric blankets.
  • Cronin, D and Lewin, B. (2008) Dooby, Dooby, Moo (Simon and Schuster: New York) Duck and the farm animals take their act to the county fair.
  • Cronin, D and Lewin, B. (2011) Giggle, Giggle, Quack (Simon and Schuster: New York) When Farmer Brown's brother Bob takes over while he is on vacation, duck and the other farm animals take advantage of Bob's good nature.
  • Cronin, D and Lewin, B. (2011) Thump, Quack, Moo (Simon and Schuster: New York) When Farmer Brown lays out his corn maze, Duck goes to work and makes it his own.

Here are some other titles my children and I have enjoyed:

  • Cooper, E. (2010)Farm (Orchard Books: New York) A beautiful book with a beautiful sense of life on the farm. Looks like Nebraska but feels like Minnesota (I lived there, long ago.)
  • Himmelman, J. (2010) Pigs to the Rescue (Henry Holt & Co.: New York) Enthusiastic pigs rescue the farmer and his family in ways that are not always welcome.
  • Mansfield, H. and Moser, B. (2008) Hogwood Steps Out. (Roaring Book Press: New York.) A funny story told from the point of view of Christopher Hogwood, a 600 pound hog who roams the neighborhood.
  • McGee, M., Shearing, L. (2004) The Noisy Farm (Bloomsbury Childrens Books: New York and London.) A beautifully illustrated book that follows the quiet farmer around his noisy farm.
  • Meister, C. and Davis, R. (2008.) Tiny on the Farm (Viking: London) Tiny is actually a giant dog who visits the farm and helps fine a lost litter of kittens, seeing all the farm animals in the process.
  • Numeroff, L. and Bond, F.(2005)If You Give a Pig a Pancake.

Academic Activities

Here are some activities to support academic IEP goals for pre-school or low functioning (self contained) students.

  1. Math: Sorting with animal counters. They can be sorted by color, sorted by animal, and compared for group sides.
  2. Math: One to one correspondence. Use the animal counters and Muffin Tins to have children count the correct number in each tin.
  3. Math: Farm Animal Dot to Dots counting by ones, tens and fives.
  4. Language/Phonemic Awareness. Focus on letters that begin the names of farm animals: /d/ duck, dog; /p/ pig, puppy, pony; /k/ cow, cat;
  5. Language: Adult and Baby Animal Cards. Make a set of adult farm animal picture cards (use Google Images) and matching baby animals, and have students name them, match them and sort them into mammals and birds (you will need to teach them, first.

Art Projects:

A Paper Plate Sheep Art Project.

A Duck Cutting Art Project with a free printable template.

A Paper Bag Cow Puppet.


Your centers should contain the same activities you would use any week: Art supplies, puzzles, blocks for construction. A few farm additions:

  • Seed mosaics. Dried beans, rice, and popcorn can be used by gluing them onto construction paper.
  • Pin the tail on the cow: Draw a big cow and mount it on a magnetic white board. Put magnetic tape on the back of card stock
  • Bean bag game: have your students make a pig bean bag box and they can throw the bean bags through the pig's open mouth.
  • A Farm Set as an alternate to the train or cars. Playskol has always had farms with tractors and other wheeled toys.
  • Petting Zoo: have a local zoo/animal protection society bring in some farm animals for your children to pet. You need to check school policy: in the Clark County School District only trained therapy dogs are permitted in school.

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