Martin Waddell, Helen Oxenbury (illus)
A lazy Farmer spends all day in bed eating chocolates, while poor Duck does all the work. All day long, duck feeds the animals, collects the eggs, saws the firewood and does all the cooking and ironing while the farmer shouts “How goes the work?” Then one day, the animals get together and decide enough is enough.This prize winning picture book is about fairness and working together. There are lots of repeated phrases for children to join in with.
Share the story
Look together at the pictures on the front cover, the title page and the first double page spread. What clues do these give about the story? What do children think the story will be about?
Read the story aloud, taking time to talk together about the pictures as you do.
Read the story again, this time leaving spaces for children to join in with the repeated phrases and animal noises. Reading the story again and again helps children to read more of the story themselves and builds their confidence in books and reading.
Talk together about why the farmer was so lazy and why it’s better for everyone to do their share of the work. The story doesn’t say if Duck is male or female. What do children think and why?
Talking about the book deepens children’s enjoyment and understanding of the story and helps them to make connections with their own experience.
Tell the story
After hearing the story a few times, children will get to know it well. Encourage them to turn the pages and use the pictures to tell it in their own words. They might enjoy using some phrases from the book or inventing new parts of the story to add to the fun.
‘Leah’s dad Paulo is Brazilian, so Leah speaks Portuguese as well as English and Polish. We read stories every night before bedtime in Polish and English but I think Leah prefers when I read in Polish, as she has story time at school every day when she can listen in English. Leah brings books home from school every week so we enjoy lots of different stories. She is a big lover of animals so she really enjoys Farmer Duck and playing with her story box. We visit a local London farm which is great. Leah loves to feed the goats - this is always the best part of the trip!’
Things to make and do
Children can use animal toys to act out the story. It’s a really good way for them to get to know the story well. They could also do this on a small scale with a storybox of the farmyard scene, as in the illustration above.
Compare the beginning and ending
Look together at the pictures in the two endpaper spreads showing the view of the fields and farm on the hill in the distance. How has the picture changed from the beginning to the end of the story? What reasons might there be for the changes?
Make a new ending
What happened to the lazy farmer? Children can imagine what the farmer did when he was chased away from the farm and tell his story. Did he feel sorry?
Sing ‘Old Mac Donald’
Sing the song ‘Old Macdonald’ together, using animal toys to make it fun. Download song sheet here.
Make a picture
Children can create their own farm picture by drawing, painting or using collage with torn coloured paper.
Go on a farm visit
Here are some London farms, and farms across the UK