F is for Farm
Almost every quiet book has a farm/barn page with animal finger puppets, and it's no surprise! Kids love playing, talking, and singing about farm animals. Imitating animal noises provides endless amusement to little babies and their big siblings alike. In fact, when Annie was a baby and we wanted her to smile for the camera, we didn't say cheese. We said, "Moooo!" It worked every time. So even though it's a bit of a cliche, deciding to dedicate our F page to a farm scene was an easy one.
Inspiration and Page Design
There are dozens of barn page variations floating around the Internet, and I took ideas and elements from many of them. I especially loved the barn from Handmade by Jill, and I used her free template to make my barn. Although I loved her embroidered windmill, I decided to stick with the traditional silo both because it would fit on my smaller page better, and because here in Indiana you're more likely to see a silo or grain bin than a windmill on the farms.
For the finger puppets, I combined the templates and ideas from Handmade by Jill, The Crafting Chicks (I especially liked the horse!), and Bubbles and Bobbins (I liked the duck wings here). I found attaching the googly eyes to the felt finger puppets to be the hardest part. I tried a couple kinds of glue, including super glue, but the only thing that seemed to work pretty well was craft tacky glue. It's not perfect, and I actually have to re-attach the pig's eye right now since it came off after several weeks of play. If anyone knows a better way to glue on googly eyes, I'd love to hear it!
My own innovation to add to the classic farm quiet book design is the little pocket for the chicken to roost in the hayloft. When I saw a sewn-on chicken in the hayloft from Continually Creative, I thought it would be even more fun to make a place for the chicken finger puppet to sit. Other modifications I made were to line the barn doors so that the ribbon ends are fully encased, to use some wide elastic to hold the animals in rather than a pocket (I like being able to see more of the animals when you open the barn doors), and using a trousers hook to fasten the barn doors.
My version of the farm was so full that I had difficulty fitting in the F and f letters and finding a place to embroider "Farm." As you can see, the silo roof turned out to fit the word Farm perfectly, but I had to sew the letters F and f onto the insides of the barn door. That turned out to fit pretty well too, except that I figured out that I'd have to sew them there after I'd already finished the doors so I couldn't use my machine to applique the letters. I blanket-stitched them on by hand, which was a little tedious and not quite as neat as the close-set machine zigzag stitching. But on the whole, it worked well.
Preschool goals for using the Farm page
These finger puppets lend themselves to singing Old McDonald endlessly. They're also great to encourage free play and story telling. This page is especially up my 2.5 year-old Laurel's alley. She's the most likely of the two to randomly burst out into a rendition of "Old McDonald" (or any other preschool song). My 4.5 year old Annie is more likely to tell a story about the animals on the farm, or to make the cow and the horse, or the duck and the chicken give each other hugs. Lots and lots of hugs.