Singing “Old MacDonald” and saying animal sounds with babies and toddlers is always fun, so I decided to prepare a Montessori-inspired farm-animal matching and vocabulary activity for a baby or toddler. My granddaughter, Zoey, is now 10 months old and loves animals. She doesn’t have a pet, but she loves seeing dogs during our walks around the neighborhood. She also loves watching the animals at the zoo.
Since Zoey lives in San Diego and doesn’t have many opportunities to see farm animals other than the ones that are at the zoo, I decided to make an animal activity focusing on farm animals in honor of World Animal Day October 4.
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Montessori-Inspired Farm Animal Matching/Vocabulary for Babies and Toddlers
For this activity, you could use whatever stuffed animals you have. Schleich farm animals would be perfect for this activity as long as they’re animals that are too large to fit through a toilet paper tube (to be safe for babies and toddlers who still mouth objects). My kids collected Beanie Babies at one point … not obsessively but enough that we have a box full of Beanie Babies. I sorted the Beanie Babies into themes so that I could create a few activities with them. I removed the tags to make them safe for a baby.
I used some farm animal Beanie Babies for this activity. I printed out and laminated the free farm animal nomenclature cards from Montessori for Everyone. With a baby or toddler, I definitely recommend laminating any card materials. Here’s the link to my favorite laminator … it’s inexpensive but works very well. I only used the part of the card with the picture for the baby/toddler activity.
The photo above shows the basket on the shelf. Normally, I would add the cards to the shelf in a napkin holder (similar to the one shown), on a small easel, or in a 3-part card folder. For a baby, I keep the animal basket on the shelf and store the cards in a place where I can reach them for times when I’m doing the activity, too.
I used a large rug from Montessori Services for the above photo. You could introduce a similar layout for a toddler. Start with fewer animals if necessary. My “Montessori-Inspired Music Appreciation: Peter and the Wolf” post has links to ideas for preparing and presenting 3-part cards. A layout like this generally won’t be best for a baby, though.
For a baby (or toddler if needed), I simply place the picture card and stuffed animal on the rug. You could say something like, “This is a cow. The cow says, ‘Moo.'” On the day that I introduced the activity, my daughter, Christina, was visiting while I took care of Zoey. Zoey even had on her “I love my Auntie” onesie as her Auntie Chrissy handed animals to Zoey. As you can see, Zoey loved it!
Zoey enjoys both the Beanie Babies and the cards, although the cards are her favorite part of the activity. Christina loved to carry around Montessori cards when she was little, and Zoey loves to do that, too.
I always take the baby’s lead in deciding what sort of activity to do and how long to do it. When Zoey is ready for a change, I’ll prepare a zoo animal matching/vocabulary activity or a pet matching/vocabulary activity. For each activity, I use the Montessori 3-period lesson. I’ve just introduced the first period so far, and I’m allowing lots of time for exploration in between periods.
When Zoey is a toddler, I’ll introduce extensions such as placing Beanie Babies around the room. Then I’ll have Zoey find the Beanie Babies I ask for. Later on, we can do more traditional 3-part card activities.
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