Shape and Feel McDuff
It's a Big Red Barn-Raising!

Big Red Barn

by Margaret Wise Brown
Illustrated by Felicia Bond

Enjoy a trip to the farm and obverse the play of a barnyard full of gentle animals while the farm family is away. The cadences of the rhythmic, rhyming text by Margaret Wise Brown perfectly celebrate the joy of the animals during a beautiful day and peaceful night on the farm. Illustrations by Felicia Bond convey the simplicity, fun, and peace of the animals’ delightful day. This is truly a classic to be enjoyed by all ages.

In this Issue

  • Paper Bag Barn and Play Mat
  • On the Farm Cornmeal Pancakes
  • Carrot-Apple Salad with Feta Dressing



It's A Big Red Barn-Raising!

Big Red Barn - Off the Shelf

Hello folks, and welcome to the Big Red Barn-Raising! Gather the little ones and get ready for a few days of hard work, creativity, and good food as we travel to the farm.

Wouldn't you love to live on the farm in Big Red Barn, spending the days with the animals? Don’t let that farm fun end with the last page of the book - with this week's craft your reader can make a farm of their own for hours of play.

With a few basic supplies they will have crops growing, animals grazing and will be able to practically smell the sweet scent of hay wafting through the air.

IMG_4322 IMG_4326 IMG_4331 

  Brown Paper Bag Barn Craft - Big Red Barn - Off the Shelf  Brown Paper Bag Barn Craft - Big Red Barn - Off the Shelf  Brown Paper Bag Barn Craft - Big Red Barn - Off the Shelf  Brown Paper Bag Barn Craft - Big Red Barn - Off the Shelf  Brown Paper Bag Barn Craft - Big Red Barn - Off the Shelf

Brown Paper Bag Barn


For the Barn

  • 1 brown paper grocery bag
  • Newspaper for stuffing the barn
  • Stapler
  • Paint for the barn – we used red and black
  • Paintbrush
  • Glue
  • Crayons or markers
  • Scissors
  • Brown construction paper, scraps of butcher paper, or pieces cut from another brown paper bag, even white paper will work. These will be cut to make windows and doors. 

To Make Barn

  1. Crumple sheets of newspaper and stuff the grocery bag about 2/3 full (a tightly packed bag will be easier to paint).
  2. Fold the top of the bag over and staple to form the peaked roof of the barn.
  3. Paint the bottom part of the barn red and the roof another color. Allow paint to dry.
  4. Use the desired material (see note in Supplies list) to make windows and doors for the barn. You can cut large, oblong rectangles and then fold them in half like a book to make a window with shutter. We colored the outside of the windows with red and added a black X.  You can also draw animals looking out the windows.
  5. Glue windows and doors onto the barn.
Big Red Barn - Off the Shelf
The goat looking out the window.
Big Red Barn - Off the Shelf
The pink pig, who looks quite a bit like Olivia, don't you think? Hmmm... I'm not sure Olivia would like living in a barn.

Play Mat


  • Large sheet of butcher paper or another brown paper grocery bag
  • Coloring implements

To Make Play Mat

  1. Lay the sheet of butcher paper out flat or cut another grocery bag open so it will lay flat to form a play mat. 
  2. Using markers, crayons, stickers scraps of paper or whatever else fuels the imagination, encourage your young reader to draw a farm play-scape to accompany the barn. Add toy animals and let the fun begin!

Brown Paper Big Red Barn Play Mat - Big Red Barn - Off the Shelf


On the Farm Recipes

After that Big Red Barn Raising, we are sure ready for some good food! So, we are cooking up some recipes inspired by the farm and the animals that live in the Big Red Barn.

First we have cornmeal pancakes, made with corn (that grows on the farm, and the chickens and ducks eat), milk (from the cow), and eggs (from the chickens). Serve with Carrot Apple Salad with Feta Dressing, with carrots and apples being some of a horse and donkey's favorite foods, and feta, which is a cheese made from sheep's and/or goat's milk. Did we forget anyone? Oh, yes there are the pigs, but they eat anything, and I think they would be quite happy with this spread, don't you?

Cornmeal Pancakes and Carrot Apple Salad with Feta Dressing - Big Red Barn - Off the Shelf

Cornmeal Pancakes - Big Red Barn - Off the Shelf

Young readers will love to help make these recipes inspired by the book you've read together. Here's how they can help: 

  • Measure all the pancake ingredients into the blender.
  • Measure out the dressing ingredients into the food processor.
  • Wash and dry the carrots and apples.
  • Toss together shredded apple and carrots and stir in the dressing. 

 As always, you know your reader's ability level, so let them help as much as they can!

Cornmeal Pancakes

adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home

Makes about 20 4-inch pancakes.


  • 1 1/4 cups skim milk
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup flour, all purpose or whole wheat
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  1. In a blender or food processor, combine all the ingredients except for the oil and blend or process until well combined. A few notes: Using a blender makes it very easy to simply pour the batter onto the skillet, but a food processor works equally well.  You might need to scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula to make sure all the dry ingredients incorporate into the batter. 
  2. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil to a skillet or griddle and heat over medium-low.
  3. When skillet is heated, pour enough batter onto the skillet to make several 4-inch pancakes. Cook until pancakes puff up and form bubbles, about 3-4 minutes. Then flip them over and cook on the other side until lightly browned. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve pancakes with a pat of farm-fresh butter and a side of Carrot Apple Salad for lunch or dinner! You can keep cooked pancakes hot in a preheated 200 degree oven. 

Carrot Apple Salad with Feta Dressing - Big Red Barn - Off the Shelf

Carrot Apple Salad with Feta Dressing - Big Red Barn - Off the Shelf

Carrot Apple Salad with Feta Dressing - Big Red Barn - Off the Shelf


Feta Dressing


  • 3 ounces feta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor. Process until combined. 
  2. Transfer prepared dressing to a small container. You won't need all the dressing for the Carrot Apple Salad, but you might need to add some to leftovers. It is also good on regular lettuce or spinach salads!

Carrot Apple Salad


  • 1 pound carrots (about 8 medium)
  • 2 small apples
  1. Wash the carrots and apples. You can peel the carrots and apple if you want, but you certainly don't have to, especially if they are organic.
  2. Trim the carrots and slice in thirds, just to make it easier to shred through the food processor. Core and quarter the apples.
  3. Shred the carrots and then the apples in a food processor. Place in a large bowl and toss to combine.
  4. Dress the salad with the desired amount of Feta Dressing. We started with about half, then ended up adding a bit more, using about 2/3 in total. 

 More from Off the Shelf

More Margaret Wise Brown: The Little Scarecrow Boy

More Felicia Bond: The Day It Rained HeartsIf You Give a Mouse a CookieIf You Take a Mouse to School



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