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By Katrina Oliver
All kids have an affinity for farm animals. Cows, pigs, bunnies, and chickens are charming and fun, and each have their own adorable sound for kids to repeat back to their parents.
However, there’s also a huge amount of developmental skill to be gained from learning about farm animals.
The foundations of cognitive skill for young children lies with learning about identification and classification.
These skills are the building blocks upon which all reasoning and mathematical skills will be built, so it’s critical to establish these as a strong base for children.
Being able to identify each of these animals based on their size and shape and associate them with a sound and activity, such as a horse pulling a cart or a cow producing milk, is a great way to practice these skills.
Learning about farm animals is also a great way for kids to develop an understanding of their environment and culture.
Learning about where their milk and eggs come from is a great way for them to understand the cycle of food and deepen their knowledge of the broader world.
Understanding the process of animals eating hay and grass to then provide food for humans can help children understand the life cycle of food and production.
Learning about farm animals can even enhance a child’s knowledge of animal care and the work that farmers do, giving them a chance to learn more about the people in their community.
For toddlers, speech is often quite limited.
While most children are building their vocabulary starting around their first birthday, their speech capabilities are mostly limited to a small handful of words and phrases for quite a while.
Learning to recreate animal sounds presents an opportunity for them to hone their speech skills by introducing them to sounds they might not often have a chance to practice, such as the “q” sound of a duck’s quack or the whinny of a horse’s neigh.
These provide great practice for kids to become clearer and more precise speakers that can strengthen their language skills as they grow.
Life on the farm can be a very compelling setting for kids to engage in pretend play.
Getting a chance to pretend to be a sheep, horse, or chicken can be a great way for kids to engage with pretend play physically in a way that gets their body moving and allows them to express new and creative ways to walk and move.
One child can play “farmer” and take care of all the animals on the farm, allowing them to have a chance to practice caring and nurturing social-emotional skills as a part of their farm-based pretend play!