Old MacRobinson had a Farm

Activity Overview: 

This is a culminating activity for the “In the Barnyard” theme from the Houghton Mifflin Invitations to Literacy Readiness Series. The students are recalling and brainstorming farm animals, identifying sounds that they make, drawing the animals on paper to create a book and drawing the animals on the computer, and creating a slide show, which includes the recorded class song.


  1. Students will be able to brainstorm a list of farm animals
  2. Students will be able to identify sounds that different animals make
  3. Students will be able to communicate and express ideas through drawings that represent the stated ideas

This is a culminating activity for the “In the Barnyard” theme from the Houghton Mifflin Invitations to Literacy Readiness Series.  We are recalling and brainstorming farm animals, identifying sounds that they make, drawing the animals on paper to create a book and drawing the animals on the computer, creating a slide show which includes the recorded class song.

(Note:  This is a unit plan that may cover several days to several weeks. Not all of the following activities /standards will appear in the video clips used.)






Curriculum Standards


Standards (NETS) Performance Indicators 

We review what we know about farms and brainstorm animals found on a farm.  We recall, review, and add more animals to the farm “web”.  The students re-create animal sounds as each animal is identified.

English Language Arts: 3, 4, 6, 12


Students select which animal they want to draw on paper.  As they draw on paper, students begin, one at a time, to draw the same/similar picture on the computer to be saved as a slide for KidPix Deluxe.

English Language Arts: 4, 6, 12

PreK – 2:  1, 9

The pictures are assembled into a book.  The slides on the computer are assembled into a slide show and also printed out for another book.

English Language Arts: 4, 12

PreK – 2: 1, 8, 9

The students sing “Old MacRobinson” to the text on the slides and it is recorded.  The slide show is saved and shown and then transferred to a VHS tape.

English Language Arts: 4, 6, 12

PreK – 2: 1, 8, 9


Tview – Focus Enhancements. Available: http://www.focusenhancements.com.

RF Modulator – Radio Shack. Available: http://www.radioshack.com.


Various cables

Blank VHS tape 

KidPix Deluxe – Broderbund Software. Available: http://www.broderbund.com.

Assorted early elementary farm books are reference

Students’ ability to:

  1. actively participate in brainstormed list of farm animals
  2. participate in creating animal sounds
  3. express ideas through drawings
  4. participate in music activity

This is an activity that I created.
Judy Robinson, William Davidson Elementary, Detroit, Michigan Jrob813@aol.com

This activity meets objectives of the Detroit Public Schools for pre-writing.  The students are discovering, focusing and organizing thoughts through brainstorming, connecting ideas, adding illustrations and publishing.  They are also keeping to a main idea.  They are using thinking and speaking skills – all of which are areas of Language Arts in the Detroit Public School’s Strands and Objectives.  They are also singing.  This activity is a culminating activity from the Houghton Mifflin Invitations to Literacy:  In the Barnyard.

We are re-enacting.  This activity would take one short class period for the initial brainstormed list.  A second period would involve reviewing the list and adding to it, making the animal sounds, and drawing their pictures on paper.  The pictures drawn on the computer would be done during this time as well as various parts of the school day (bell time, free selection time), on an individual basis.  This would take approximately one week to complete.  My own time would be used to “assemble” the slide show.  The “recording session” would come next and would be completed in 2 – 3 shorter sessions (approximately 10 minutes each).  The transfer to a VHS tape can be done while the slide show is being shown.  For this video, we have completed some of the steps in advance:  the book will already be completed and assembled and the slide show will be completed.

This is my third year using KidPix to extend stories and songs from paper and pencil to computer.  The students enjoy learning about farm animals (none of them have ever been to a farm.  We are going to one in May.)  They like taking the “Old MacRobinson” song and personalizing it!  Their exposure to animals is very limited, so this allows them to see pictures, draw their own versions, add animal sounds, and record a song.  The end result is fabulous!

Some things I have learned:
Children with speech problems may not be the best narrators!

Include an author’s page with names and/or pictures – it gives the complete class ownership.

I need to monitor how often each child is on the computer during the first semester to give all of them time to develop computer skills.

Recording is difficult!  You need cues – a point, a tap or a nod.  DO NOT WHISPER!  They will whisper back! 

Technology Resources:
KidPix and KidPix Deluxe are age-appropriate for my students.  They are able to experiment with all of the options, work on their socialization skills and improve their English – 50% of my class comes to school without any English.  The other 50% come with poor communication skills.  I have KidPix Deluxe on two of my three computers.  By the beginning of the second semester, my students are able to explain and/or demonstrate what they found on the computer or how they did something, for example:  enlarge a picture they stamped.  

School Background Information:
The city of Detroit has a population of just fewer than 1 million. Many of my students’ family members are unemployed.  Some are enrolled in trade schools.  Some work in fast food restaurants, factories, drug stores and nursing homes.  When they work, their hours may be the midnight shift or the late afternoon shift so various family members are responsible for the care of these children. It is often inconsistent. The Pre-School through 5th grade building has approximately 920 students.  There are 263 schools in the Detroit Public School District with approximately 170,000 students. Twenty three percent of our students have limited English fluency.  Our ethnic breakdown is: 77% African American, 22% Bengali from Bangladesh) and 1% Eastern European/Caucasian.

Teaching Strategy:
I do many book extensions and creative writing with my students.  It is not unusual to produce 20 books a year and five or six slide shows.  It’s a great way to share what we do in the classroom with family members.  Many of them do not or cannot come into the classroom, for various reasons, so I can send home a VHS tape with slide shows on it, sharing with them what we are doing. 

Technology as Facilitator of Quality Education Model Components Highlighted in This Activity http://www.intime.uni.edu/model/modelimage.html
(Note:  This is a unit plan that may cover several days to several weeks. Not all of the elements from the Technology as Facilitator of Quality Education Model that are described below will appear in the video clips used.)

Principles of Learning:
Students are at the center of their own learning.  They are actively involved in our project, in an Enjoyable Setting (non-graded, but observed) and they are making Connections to information to which they have recently been exposed.

Information Processing:
They are using prior knowledge to brainstorm (Presearch), interpret this information and communicate it to the class.

The class is a Democracy where the children are Thinking Together and Making Meaning.  They are actively involved with the others to serve the best interests of the group by creating a complete list of farm animals.

When the students are drawing their pictures on the computer, they are demonstrating their ability to Operate the Computer and help create a Multi-Media Presentation.

Teacher Knowledge:
As their teacher, I have knowledge of their individual characteristics and backgrounds. 

Teacher Behavior:
I display good Classroom Management skills so that effective teaching takes place.

Student Characteristics:
My students are enrolled in the Extended-Day Kindergarten class in an urban school.  They attend school four full days a week.  They are given the Brigance 5-year-old test at the beginning of the year.  Most of them have never been in a classroom setting prior to my class.  50% of my class is from Bangladesh and do not speak English when they start school.  The other 50% is African-American.  75% of my class receives free lunch.  Most come from single-parent homes where adults are semi-literate or non-English speaking.  The only computer experience my students encounter is in my classroom.  The first semester is basically free exploration for them.  The second semester involves incorporating story extensions with their computer skills and creating slide shows.  The results are amazing!

Evolution of the Activity:
We are creating more slide shows each year.  I’m finding that the possibilities are endless!  We are using math, sequence, rhyming, songs, alphabet, patterns, experience stories and incorporating digital pictures!  I am supporting learning with technology – an important goal in an urban setting.  It helps represent what the students know and what they are learning.  Our major obstacles are time!

(Learning activity format adapted from National Educational Technology Standards for Students Connecting Curriculum & Technology  http://cnets.iste.org/students )