6 MONTHS AND UP: - Place the mat within easy reach and guide the child's hand to pat various farm friends. Say aloud, "We can pat the cow--pat pat!" - During tummy time, place the mat on the floor and squeeze and shake the various farm friends to make noises. Guide the child's hand to do the same. - Guide the child's hand as you move the farm friends around the farm, stopping at appropriate locations on the mat (the pig stops at the pig pen, the farmers at the field or the barn, etc.).
9 MONTHS AND UP: - Identify the different farm friends: boy farmer, girl farmer, horse, cow, goat, pig, sheep, chicken, and duck. Help the child to pat each animal as you say its name. - Encourage the child to hold, shake, and squeeze the different farm friends to hear the various sounds. - Separate the farm friends by sound (3 of each) and reinforce the commonality of each group (rattling, crinkling and squeaking). - Place a farm friend on the floor, facing the child but slightly out of reach, and encourage the child to reach and grasp to pull it near.
12 MONTHS AND UP: - Call out the name of one of the farm friends and ask the child to try and locate that animal on the play mat. Or, guide the child's hand to find the chosen farm friend after it's identified. - Ask the child to identify the different colors on the farm friends. Say a color name aloud and guide the child's finger to point to a farm friend with that color. - Line up the farm friends in a row and count them aloud. Ask the child to pat them along with you as you count.
18 MONTHS AND UP: - Help the child to match the farm friends to where they live or work on the farm--help him or her place the duck on the pond, the horse on the stable, etc. - Help the child to count the animals as he or she puts them into the storage bag. Then, have him or her open the bag so all the animals spill out! Count them with the child as he or she places them on the mat.
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