For Teachers

Letter to Educators



Why Study Rare Breeds?

ALBC Conservation Priorty List


~ K-2 Overview


~ 3-5 Overview



Farm Visits

First Grade Unit: EVALUATE



• explore the similarities and differences between human basic needs and those of farm animals.


In "Ask a Farmer", students once again become farm animals and take turns asking the farmer to take care of their basic needs. At the end of the activity, the roles are reversed and the farmer asks the animals to help take care of his or her basic needs.

In "Barnyard Tales", students dictate/write stories and create annotated illustrations about animals and their basic needs. They then compare these needs with their own needs.


Cards, art materials, book making materials.



1. Students return to species teams. One or two members from each team is chosen and these individuals assemble as a farm unit. Three or four "farms" are therefore created. The animals on the farm discuss among themselves what they need for the farm. They make a list and wait their turn.

2. The teacher is the farmer who visits each "farm" and asks the animals there to give them a list of what they need to get their basic needs met. Take notes of their requests (and use as the evaluation form). The teacher visits each farm and writes down their needs, or, farms hand in a list from a class vocabulary chart (if students are writing at this point).

3. Students return to their desks and the teacher then makes a master list of what is needed to run the four or five farms. Comparisons of species requests are made and a running list is built.

For example:
The first column says "Cows". Teacher as farmer says, "On farm #1, the cow wanted grain, hay and grass. (writes these in first column). On farm #2, the cow wanted grass (puts a check next to grass) and water (add water to the list). On farm #3, the cow wanted grain (add a check), grass, (add a check) and a barn. Essentially, this list grows as all ideas from all the cows are compiled. Then the teacher/farmer moves on to the next species. The last column is, "Our Farm" a composite of all requests, so that all the cows in class are "happy" (have their basic needs met) . *Gifted students may graph this data.

COW Farm1 Farm2 Farm3 Our Farm
grain x   x X
hay x     X
grass x x x X
water   x   X
barn     x X


4. In a surprising turn of events, the farmer then turns to the animals and asks, "What about my basic needs?" Can anyone give me some food, shelter or clothing? This begins a conversation about the products and services animals provide. It can become sometimes uproarious as animals realize they have to die before the product can be delivered, such as a hamburger or ham sandwich! Wool, eggs and milk are less challenging.

5. This brings up again the idea of the need for a job or purpose for rare breed animals. The teacher/farmer points out: "One of your basic needs is to have a job. As a farm animal, you need a purpose. The teacher can then make a big deal about the usefulness of the farm animals, and express gratitude about their interdependence: "I help you, you help me". If the farmer had decided to wear human made fleece instead of wool, then the sheep would be out of a job.

6. Rare breeds are hardy and versatile, and contribute in many ways to a small farm operation. A farmer benefits in multiple ways from their presence. It is for this reason that some farmers have decided to keep these breeds. The farmer may in addition have a commitment to helping maintain a dwindling genetic resource.

For this activity you will need a set of Noah's Ark Today playing cards. These are available through the ALBC website for $5.95, or you can make your own. There are 64 cards with 2 wild cards. The cards are identified by species and breed (Cattle, sheep, horses, pigs). There are 4 cards of each breed.

1. Using the playing card set, handout one card to each student or student pair. Give one of every kind of card and then repeat as necessary. When all the cards have been used once, repeat until every student has a card. 2. This card is the main character in the student's story. Students think of a problem or conflict their animal faces on the farm. As a part of the story, they should include the animals' basic needs.
The teacher can give an example:

This is Khaki Campbell Duck. She loves to swim. One day, she refuses to get out of the pond at feeding time. The day is warm and lovely, the afternoon is calm and the water feels so good. But the sun is going down and her friends try to persuade her to go inside but she keeps swimming. Unable to search for her in the dark, the farmer decides to wait until morning. That night, Khaki gets locked out of the barn. She is hungry and afraid of the night noises. She imagines a fox nearby. She stays near the barn all night. While lying there, she looks up and discovers the stars in the night sky. Khaki is happy. Tomorrow she will stay in the barn, safe and warm and fed, but tonight, she will enjoy the wonder of that starry sky.

3. Have students who are struggling with a plot pair up with a partner. Choose one of the animals as the main character and add other animals as possible.

4. Once the students have thought of the basic elements of the story, they should plan what will be said on each page. Help them keep words to a minimum and the storyline simple. For advanced students, encourage them to integrate one of the special qualities of the breed that makes it unique.

5. Students then write, illustrate and bind their story. A sturdy, reusable, and easy method of assembling a book is to use pre-punched, top-loading, plastic sheet protectors and a three-ring binder. Load your student's work two sheets at a time, back-to-back, insert the sheet protectors into a binder, and the book is ready to read to the class! Binding can also be done with yarn and three-hole punched paper, with heavy paper covers. These can also be folded in half and sewn or staple stiched. Or, make a book for each student with 3 to 6 sheets of 8. 5 x 14 or 11 x 17 paper folded in half and stapled along the fold. Have students paste or staple in their own work or do new art work on the pages. Students can dictate titles and captions.



An excellent reference on teaching students how to write, illustrate, and assemble their own books is Written and Illustrated by. . . by David Melton (Landmark Editions, 1985).

Navigating the Unit

1st - 5 E Summary
1st - Engage
1st - Explore
1st - Explain
1st - Expand
1st - Evaluate
1st - Supplement

Noah's Ark Today is property of the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.
Copyright 2006.

American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, PO Box 477, Pittsboro, NC 27312