CLiF would like to introduce or re-introduce you to John and Jennifer Churchman of Moonrise Farm in Essex, VT, where they live with the now-famous Sweet Pea and Friends. CLiF created the outline below to help students of all ages think about the kind of books the Churchmans create.

The Churchmans are busy people with lots of jobs and responsibilities, but the ones that figure most into their books are:

  • Farmer
  • Author
  • Artist

How do those jobs show up in their books about Sweet Pea and her friends? Learn more about the Farmer John’s family of animals on Moonrise Farm.

Things to think about:

  • John and Jennifer love photography and fine art. How does they use that love in the Sweet Pea books?
  • What do you know about caring for animals? Their farm has horses, ducks, geese, sheep, chickens, and dogs!
  • What do you think animals do when people are not watching?
  • Can you think of a story about an animal you know or your pet? Have they ever done something silly, scary, funny, or uncharacteristic that you could weave into a story?
  • How can you share a story you write or think up if speaking to a group isn’t (yet) your favorite thing? How do you practice?

Here are a few ways to get to know the Churchmans’ work better:

  • Watch Farmer John read The Easter Surprise!
  • Learn more about the animals. What can you learn about the personalities of each animal? Can you make a similar outline for an animal you know?
  • The Churchmans recorded some farm events that might appear in one of their books – watch a cat on patrol and bathtime for baby sheep.
  • Watch Farmer John on Stuck in Vermont. He talks about how he combines his jobs as farmer and photographer and introduces you to all the animal friends.
  • The Churchmans have a series of books about Sweet Pea and Brave Little Finn (sheep) and Maisie the dog, plus an alpaca, a bunny, the garden, and the barn at Christmas.

CLiF has created literacy activities for students of all ages here. Here are some that would go nicely with Sweet Pea and friends’ stories:

For younger kids:

  • Get Out! – take a walk looking for everyday occurrences in your neighborhood that could be part of a story
  • Grab-a-Word – pick a topic (maybe animals?) and write nouns, adjectives, verbs on cards. Toss them up and see what sentences you can make!
  • Reading to Animals – practice reading skills on your pets or stuffed animals

For older kids:

For families:

  • Best Part of Me – create a profile similar to that for Sweet Pea and her friends highlighting the things you love best about yourself
  • Write a letter to Sweet Pea, Farmer John, or any animal at Moonrise Farm. The address is here.

CLiF recorded Farmers John and Jennifer sharing a clip from their book Brave Little Finn. Watch here!

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