Down on the Farm: Old Mac Donald

One of my favorite units to teach; the farm is an engaging and familiar place for all learners. Students love singing, learning, and sharing about some of their favorite animals. With tons of materials available it can be hard to narrow it down, here are some of my favorite activities.

pagebreak          Back to school again and its time for one of my favorite units; The Farm! There’s so much material to work with that I have a hard time narrowing it down. Most importantly these places and animals are immediately familiar to students, which allows them to jump right into the material and learning with almost no front loading from the teacher. These songs and games are easy to learn, easy to play, and get the students engaged.

This individual lesson is part of a larger unit I do about the farm. I want to just talk about and share some of my favorite lessons, activities, and resources.

Farm Unit:
Individual Lesson:

farm Screen Shot 2016-08-18 at 9.34.54 AMOld Mac Donald

Everybody knows this catchy song and it’s an obvious introduction to the unit. Before we even sing though, I try and pick students brain by having them answer the question “What animals live on a farm?” followed by the question, “What kind of person lives on a farm?” Only then do I introduce the world’s most famous farmer. We circle up on the carpet, and go around letting everyone name an animal for us to sing about. I totally allow repeats because at this point in the year I’m trying to get all students involved in our activities. Another way I get students excited and engaged is by bringing my guitar or ukulele to play along while we sing.  You can use piano, or just play a recording from the internet; There are countless versions, but this version by Super Simple Songs is my favorite

Instrument Time! 

I always strive to get instruments into the hands of my students as early as possible. This helps them feel like they’re “learning music” and makes promises and consequences real. If feel if you’re always promising instruments, but never deliver, it take a lot of wind out of your proverbial sail. So how to use instruments with this lesson? It’s simple! Replace the animals on Old Mac Donald’s farm with instruments. “…and on his farm he had an egg shaker.” Then, instead of making animals noises, the students with that instrument play it. I usually just use 3 or 4 instruments and then allow them to trade with their friends. However, fair and natural consequences, if you misuse your instrument you’ll lose your instrument!

Screen Shot 2016-08-24 at 2.01.18 PMMath Integration & Graphing Extension

I love how limitless the potential is for a broad theme like the farm. After going around and letting students choose their animals, and watching (and singing along to) the video, we’ll talk about which animals are our favorites, or which animal would you want on your farm. There are a lot of ways to do this activities. If I have a lot of time, I’ll tape pictures of animals to the floor, and have students stand in line behind them, essentially creating their own bar graph. Then we’ll transfer it to the blank chart on our screen (see picture) and see which animals are most and least popular. It’s a seamless and effortless tie in and has always engaged my learners.

Farm Unit:
Individual Lesson:
1st grade2nd gradea sound mindclassroom songseducation blogelementary schoolfarmfarm lesson planfrank cademartorihomeschoolinstruments in the classroomkindergartenkindergarten lesson planmath extensionMath Integrationmusicmusic educationmusic integrationold mac donaldsingingteachers pay teachers

Frank Cademartori • September 1, 2016

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