For most children, farm animals are a standard toy chest item. Two of my favorites are Soft Touch Baby Farm Animals and Aurora My Barnyard Friends Carrier with Sounds. For a barn and animal set, the Fisher Price Little People Animal Sounds Farm is a favorite! The problem is, one can only play with animals on the farm for so long. Today’s “Plan to Play,” shakes up the routine. As children are learning animals and animal sounds and expanding their dramatic play skills, why not give the animals a ride on a bus or in a car. This is a great game for children with special needs who play repetitively with the same materials in the same way.
Children who have not yet played with animals on the farm should be supported as they explore that scenario first. Those who are familiar with the animals that live on the farm can begin this “plan to play” by investigating the animals. Remember that children should be encouraged to lead the play whenever possible, but modeling new ways to play with familiar materials expands your children’s creativity and skills. You might start by saying to your child “I wonder what would happen if the animals left the farm. Do you think they could go for a ride on the bus/in the car/on the train?” Many children will take the lead at this point and respond both verbally and by manipulating the animals to reflect your suggestions. For children who don’t, you could follow up with “My horse is going to have a turn riding the bus.” To the tune of “The Wheels on the Bus” try singing: The horse on the bus says neigh, neigh, neigh. Neigh, neigh, neigh. Neigh, neigh, neigh. The horse on the bus says neigh, neigh, neigh. Al through the town. Continue this with the other animals and see what your child does. Math and problem solving skills can be incorporated by asking your child how many animals he or she thinks might fit in the vehicle. Have fun with it! Let other figurines take their turns as well. Young children will understand and enjoy the humor in animals going for rides in vehicles meant for people.
(Note: You can extend this play with children 3 and older by asking where the animals might be going and what they are going to do there.)