As I brought the Large Red Barn into a first grade classroom I heard, “I want to play with that!” Kids came right up to the farm and got  their arms inside of it to play. The flexibility of the barn construction allowed the kids to remove the roofs and supports to set aside as outbuildings and make “a playground for the little cow.” The kids made a fence with the string and poles to give the animals some fresh air. I left them to play and came back to hear their story. The first boy said, “I’m the narrator, Luke is the cow and Piper is the farmer.” They had decided how to tell their story, “Once upon a time the farmer wanted to milk the cow (“moo” added Luke). He put the bucket in the lift and took it over to the pen.” The story included a shower in the “cleaning area,” as well as the cow escaping so “the farmer lured him back with some vegetables.” Many bales of hay were being transported with the rope winch across the center beam of the barn, which was very popular with the kids. So many doors opened for entry and exit as they wanted the animals to get their exercise. The variety of props,, rooms with different purposes and hand painted, highly detailed animals creates an opportunity for rich storytelling which builds skills for reading and writing. I felt bad telling them I had to leave and take the barn with me. There was such sustained energy in their play, and no sign of them stopping!

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