Create a List

List Name

Rename this List
Save to
Back to the Top Teaching Blog
October 21, 2011 Teaching With "Big Red Barn" By Sharon Taylor
Grades PreK–K, 1–2

    My unit about the farm, which plays such an important role in all of our lives, is one of my favorites. If you are teaching or planning a unit about the farm, Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown is a must-read. Your students will be mesmerized as Brown takes them through a day on the farm, introducing a variety of animals through charming illustrations. The rhymes and images make for a delightful shared story experience, especially if your students like animals. Read on for activities you can do with this amazing book.



    Big Red Barn's rhymed text and illustrations introduce the reader to the many different animals that live on a farm. Margaret Wise Brown introduces the barnyard animals as they play one day while the children are away. The colorful illustrations will carry your students from sunrise to nightfall. I love the way Brown steadily darkens the sky so students can anticipate the end of the day. There is so much to see on every page of this book, so students can notice new things with each reading.  Big Red Barn is a book you will enjoy reading time and time again!




    I like to start the Big Red Barn lesson with a KWL chart. The students list what they know about farm animals under K. Next they tell me some things they would like to know. I list these under W. After we read the book, we list things we learned under L. 




    The rhymes and the accessible writing style of Big Red Barn makes it easy to incorporate activities into the reading. While reading the book, I encourage students to identify the animals on each page. I also allow them to imitate the sounds of the various animals as they are introduced in the story.





    Questions and Answers

    Next, I engage my students in a conversation about the book, asking reading-response questions such as:

    "What was your favorite animal?" "Where did all the animals live?" "What did the animals do during the day?" "Which animals had babies?" I give them the opportunity to look through the book to respond to questions, if needed.



    Categorize Animals

    I allow my students to categorize animals by the places they belong. We start by naming various places animals might live (e.g., farm, sea, jungle).  Next the students help me put each animal in the correct category. 



    Farm Animal Mobile

    My class enjoys sharing their farm animal mobiles, which we make using pictures of the various farm animals from the Big Red Barn, coat hangers, and tape. These mobiles are very simple to make, and your students will love them. 



    Favorite Farm Animal Graph

    Our class also creates a graph of our favorite farm animals from Big Red Barn. Students discuss which is the most popular farm animal in the class based on the results of the graphing exercise.



    Peekaboo Barn

    Where is the chicken, the cow, and the horse? Behind the flap of the barn, of course! For this activity, I use red construction paper to cut out a barn with a flappable door for each student. Students draw or cut out a picture of their favorite farm animal and glue it behind the door of their barn. Then they work in small groups sharing their barns. Students will love opening the doors of their classmates' barns to find out what animals are hiding inside.



    What Farm Animals Give

    After reading Big Red Barn, we discuss various products that come from farm animals. Students search through ads and magazines to cut and paste  items that are produced from hens, cows, sheep, and pigs. 



    A Visit to the Farm

    This year, as a culminating activity to the reading of the Big Red Barn, our class took a field trip to Kidz Kountry Farm in Southaven, MS.  While there, students saw many of the animals from the story. They also had the opportunity to ride a train and the ponies, milk the goats, feed bottles to the goats, race turtles, pet rabbits, and so much more. The students also went to the pumpkin patch to select a pumpkin to bring home. It was so much fun!!! Take a look at this slide show of our trip:

    [INSERT SLIDESHOW HERE] Here's the embed code for my slideshow

    <script type="text/javascript" src=""></script><script type="text/javascript">if (WIDGETBOX) WIDGETBOX.renderWidget('f0c19a39-d80f-4ae1-a247-6255cdf0f2a7');</script><noscript>Get the <a href="">Slideshow Creator Pro</a> widget and many other <a href="">great free widgets</a> at <a href="">Widgetbox</a>! Not seeing a widget? (<a href="">More info</a>)</noscript>


    If you are not able to take a trip to a farm, you may want to show a video such as Barnyard, Charlotte’s Web, or Farm Country Ahead as a culminating activity.

    I hope you enjoyed our Big Red Barn activities. My students had a blast, and I’m sure yours will too!





Share your ideas about this article

My Scholastic

Susan Cheyney