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A Little Bit Country: Pretend Play Is Full of Farm-Fresh Fun!

child with toy farming equipment wheelbarrow shovels gloves baskets fruit

Cock-a-doodle-doo! It’s time to get to work on the farm! Preschoolers love role-playing real jobs where they feel responsible, and it’s hard to beat one that includes caring for cute animals and scooping “dirt” into wheelbarrows. Get your kiddo in the mood by talking about farm life or read a few farm-themed books (we love Big Red Barn), set out a few props, and watch his imagination bloom as he tends his “crops.” Bonus: This play is great for even the littlest farmers, who will love filling baskets with veggies (and then dumping them out again)!

child in overalls play food wheelbarrow

Possible Props for Pretend Play

  • Dress-up clothes, such as overalls, jeans, plaid shirts, aprons, boots, straw or cowboy hats, bandanas, and work gloves
  • Toy food items (e.g., fruit, veggies, eggs, milk, honey, bread, pies, etc.)
  • Small baskets or buckets
  • Various kid-size, farm-themed props and toys (e.g., wheelbarrow, shovel, gardening tools)
  • Stuffed farm animals like cows, pigs, chickens, etc.  
  • Cardboard-box hay bale (instructions below)
  • Crumpled brown construction paper to serve as “dirt”

Materials for pretend farming


Get your duds on, roll up your sleeves, and start mucking out that stable! Let your kids dress up in farming clothes—you might explain that farmers need to wear durable clothes that have lots of pockets, allow them to move easily, protect their bodies from the elements (sun, rain, snow), and that can get really, really dirty. Next, lay out your props and invite your kiddos to use them to create a farm setting. If they need a little direction, try any one of these fun ideas:

  1. Line up your stuffed animals to make a barn full of livestock to care for.
  2. Use your baskets and buckets to make a farm stand to sell fruit, veggies, and other tasty farm-fresh products.
  3. Scatter a bunch of crumpled construction-paper “dirt” on your living room rug, and voilà, you’ve got a plot of land for your little farmers.

little girl with construction-paper dirt

Playful Add-Ons

Make some hay

A little paint (or markers) and some twine are all you need to transform a cardboard box into a hay bale. Tape a medium or large cardboard box shut and then paint or draw on it to give the box the appearance and texture of a hay bale, using different shades of yellow and brown. When the paint is dry, wrap the box with twine, rope, or ribbon. Hay bales are great for stacking, climbing, or feeding the cows!   

Have a living room hootenanny

Put on your favorite country tunes and get your jig on. You could also sing your own farm songs (“Old MacDonald Had a Farm,” “The Farmer in the Dell,” “Mary Had a Little Lamb”) and play instruments like guitars, banjos, harmonicas, and kazoos. Don’t have actual instruments? Make your own guitars and banjos!

Take a real field trip

A quick Internet search should help you find a local farm that allows visitors. Some may have actual tours where you can get up close and personal with animals and check out cool tools and equipment. Farms with U-Pick offerings (think apple orchards, pumpkin patches, and flower festivals) are another great way to see a real farm in action. In fact, we can help you plan the perfect orchard outing for your whole family with these eight great tips.

little boy using toy shovel

Learning we love

There’s a lot more to pretend play than just fun and games—it also gives kids a chance to be in charge and to feel needed, like when your little farmer cares for the animals in her barn or tends her rutabaga patch. Acting responsibly in play helps your child learn how to think and act that way in her real life, too!

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