Many children are drawn toward farm play, even when their experience is limited to suburban sidewalks or city parks. They imagine themselves as both the busy farmers and the creatures of the field, sty, yard or barn. (What is that mooing, bleating, and clucking I hear from behind a closed bedroom door?!)
In our family, the children also had favorite bedtime stories about farmers and the farming life for many years, leading to library and bookstore searches to add variety to story time. It was interesting to observe how these stories then worked their way into play. They might use their toys to re-create scenes from stories or they might gallop around the snowy yard to warm themselves with the rest of an imagined herd.
You might notice in your own child’s play that simple additions can enhance the play. A block can become a fence, a bale of hay or a visitor to the farm. Their flock of sheep could be wool batting they’ve scavenged from the craft cupboard. Providing a few playsilks can give the young farmer a pond, a leafy bower and a rolling meadow for their animals. While a wooden stable can be a lovely addition to a play space, children may be happy to create their own with blocks, a playstand or even furniture. Farm play invites innovation and creativity.
It can be fascinating to see how children are less limited in their storytelling by what adults might see as “reality”; for them, they need only have a tenuous link to the idea they see in their heads.
So, sing the farming songs and play along with naming all sorts of animals. This play enriches a child’s imaginative life and gives them another venue for exploring their world.
- A Farm Carl Larsson
- Going to Sleep on the Farm Wendy Cheyette Lewis
- The Tomten Astrid Lindgren
- Sleep Tight Farm Eugene Doyle
- Seasons books from Gateways for poems and songs
- Farmer Boy Laura Ingalls Wilder