Barn Dance! Book Review and Activities

Barn Dance! Book Review and Activities

Growing up I loved to read. When I had my daughter I knew I wanted to instill in her that same love of reading. From birth I had lots of books around and available for her to explore. She took to them right away and has loved looking through them ever since. As a baby she loved the bright colors, and then when she was old enough loved turning the pages to look through by herself. Which resulted in a few torn flaps and nibbled pages, but that’s a reasonable cost for a love of literature. Now she loves to have books read over and over until she has them memorized. She will then “read” the books to her stuffed animals, and has even progressed to making up her own stories. My mom has saved countless books to pass along to her grandchild. Many are themed holiday books that live in boxes until their designated season. These beautiful and special treasures are now ready to be enjoyed by the next generation. As we got down the boxes this year and opened up to explore I found one of my favorite books growing up, Barn Dance! This fun magical book by Bill Martin Jr and John Archambault is beautifully illustrated by Ted Rand. I wanted to share this book with you and also some of the activities my daughter and I did to really bring the book to life.

Book Review

The book takes place on a farm with a young boy who is drawn out into the night by a sound carried on the breeze. His curiosity gets the better of him and soon he is on his way out into the moon light. What captivates me from the first page is the wonderful lyrical nature of the words. It is what makes this such a fun book to read aloud to your children. Or if you children can read, have them read it aloud to you. It may be tricky for newer readers because many of the words are written to intimate the narrators country twang. While it creates a vivid sense of character, you may have to help children understand the intent of the pronunciation.

barn dnace

The young boy, referred to as the “skinny kid”, finds a magical barn full of animals holding a barn dance lead by the fiddle playing scarecrow. The boy tries to sneak in but is seen and caught up in the excitement. He joins the cows and goats as the scarecrow plays on until dawn. When the sun rises it is time for the magic to end. The animals return to their pens to close their eyes and sleep, while the boy returns to his room toes still tapping along to the music.

barn dnace

The wonderful story is matched by the gorgeous illustrations. Being hand drawn watercolor, it adds a mysterious magical feeling to carry along what the reader is experiencing. You almost wonder if the story is the boy’s dream. This is not a book to teach any life lessons but a simple fun seasonal tale that can ignite the imagination of your children and have you dancing along. I highly recommend purchasing this book to enjoy in person and read year after year. You can find it here on Amazon or here on Thriftbooks.

If you want to get started right away and don’t want to wait for it to be delivered you can also enjoy this video of the book.

Story Activities


I was inspired by this post from Simple Everyday Mom.

paper bag scarecrow

As you can see with a toddler who wants to do everything herself ours turned out a little different. I cut out the hat, hair, nose, and squares. After helping glue that hat, hair, and nose in place; I also drew the face. But then I let my excited toddler glue the squares to decorate the body of our scarecrow puppet and decorate with some crayon. Using a glue stick with a toddler is a messy business, but it is a big deal to them. She loves using the glue stick herself. It helps develop her fine motor skills too! The first time I let her use the glue stick herself she happily glued and colored by herself for about 20 minutes while I did the dishes, it was awesome.

paper bag scarecrow

The scarecrow puppet was so fun she wanted to make one with no help from mommy. All I was allowed to help with was the cutting and making sure the hair was in the right place.

scarecrow puppet


A yummy treat makes even an ordinary day feel special, and kids love making their own snack mix. Inspired by this fun snack mix from One Little Project, I decided to make a toddler friendly version since nuts and hard candies aren’t recommended until age 5.

Set out several bowls filled with each of the individual ingredients and place a scoop in each bowl.

  • Corn Chex cereal
  • Angie’s Boom Chicka Pop, Sweet and Salty Kettle Corn or Caramel
  • Pretzel sticks
  • Mother’s Halloween Circus Animal cookies

Give each child a bowl of their own to scoop their mix into. Have them take a couple scoops of each item, mix, and enjoy!


My daughter loves to dance! Any time and place is perfect for an impromptu dance party. Try the Square Dance Music playlist on Spotify by joyrockfun and freestyle it. Or if you child is a little older, watch a video to learn a traditional square dance. Try this one from Patty Shukla Kids TV to learn to Do Si Do or this one, Square Dance Cadence from The Learning Station.


One of the most traditional fall activities is to visit a petting zoo. You’ll find one at almost any pumpkin patch. Kids love animals, or is that just my kid? Some of the biggest smiles I’ve ever seen on her face are when she is petting and playing with animals. If you can find a farm near you with animals even better! Spending time with the animals is the perfect follow-up activity to reading Barn Dance, or bring the book with you to read along with a picnic including your scarecrow snack mix.


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