Old MacDonald Had a What? A Thank You to Farmers

September 29, 2022 | Katherine McG

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E I E I O!

When you saw that string of letters together did you automatically start humming the tune for "Old MacDonald Had a Farm"? It's a song that has been a childhood staple for over a hundred years. And while many of us have sung about "a chick-chick here" and a "baa-baa there," did you know that Old MacDonald has had a lot more than farm animals over the years?

Old MacDonald Had a Farm (Grimly)

Old MacDonald Had a Farm by Gris Grimly

This children's classic has been retold and reimagined by countless authors, illustrators, and performers. At Toronto Public Library, we have many different versions of it in our children's collections including ebooks, music (both digital and on CD), and picture books. Here's a couple:

Old MacDonald Had a Farm

Old MacDonald Had a Farm by Jane Cabrera

Old MacDonald Had a Farm (Pete the Cat)

Old MacDonald Had a Farm by James Dean

 

But did you know that in some stories, Old MacDonald has a lot more than just cows and horses...

Old MacDonald Had a Baby

Old MacDonald Had a Baby by Emily Snape; illustrated by K-Fai Steele

Old MacDonald Had a Dragon

Old MacDonald Had a Dragon by Ken Baker; illustrated by Christopher Santoro

Old MacDonald Had a Phone

Old MacDonald Had a Phone by Jeanne Willis; illustrated by Tony Ross

Old MacDonald Had a Truck

Old MacDonald Had a Truck by Steve Goetz; illustrated by Eda Kaban

Old MacDonald Had a Boat

Old MacDonald Had a Boat by Steve Goetz; illustrated by Eda Kaban

Old MacDonald Had a Zoo

Old MacDonald Had a...Zoo? by Iza Trapani

 

As you can see, the possibilities for what Old MacDonald might have are truly endless. And the adaptations to this song doesn't have to stop there!

Why not sing about a farm owned by Old Mohammed or Young Ms. Mak? Or personalize the song by using you or your child's name? Then you could act it out using your own stuffed animals or toys. Or together as a family, create a whole new story using the basic structure of this classic. Then write it down, create artwork to accompany it, or just tell it aloud over and over again.

Sing a Song of "Thank You"

We have celebrated the fictional Old MacDonald in song and story for decades now but when is the last time that you said "Thank you!" to a real farmer?

There are countless farmers working hard every day to ensure that we have food to eat, clothes to wear, and more of the many things that we use in daily life. They truly deserve our gratitude.

So the next time I sing this song or read one of these stories at my next library storytime, I think that I will add one more verse...

Old MacDonald had a farm. E I E I O.

And on this day, we say "Thank you!" E I E I O.

For farmers here. And farmers there. Thank you farmers everywhere!

Old MacDonald had a farm. Let's all say "Thank you!"

Thank you farmers! 

And if you want to learn more about real farmers and the work they do, check out some of these books:

Meet the Farmer

Meet the Farmer / Conoce a los granjeros by Joyce Jeffries

I Am Farmer

I Am Farmer: Growing an Environmental Movement in Cameroon by Baptiste and Miranda Paul

Grow Raise Catch

Grow! Raise! Catch! How We Get Our Food by Shelley Rotner

 

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