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Pause for Thought: Happy Cows!

Summer holiday freedom

by Janice Ross

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To consider that holidays usually bring freedom from routine.

Preparation and materials


  1. Ask the following questions.

    - How do you know if someone is happy?

    Listen to a range of responses.

    - What about pets or animals? How do you know if they are happy?

    Listen to a range of responses.

  2. Explain that we are going to be thinking about cows today. Cows are one of many animals that can show us when they are happy, and some of the things that make them happy are the same things that might make us happy too!

  3. Explain the concept of wintering. In winter, usually in October, cows are brought indoors into a barn or byre, where they stay inside until April.

    Explain that you are going to show the children two short videos and you would like them to watch carefully and identify the reasons why cows are brought in from the fields.

  4. Show the YouTube video ‘Bringing the cows in for winter’ from the start to 1.45 minutes and then from 3.05 to 5.02 minutes.

    Ask the children to suggest why cows are brought inside for winter. For example:

    - the cows are hungry because there is not enough grass left for them to eat
    - the ground is very muddy
    - the weather has turned wet and will become colder
    - the fields are waterlogged
    - the cows themselves know it is time to come in, standing at the gate for food

  5. Explain that farmers will have prepared a barn or byre for their cows where they can shelter all winter. They will have made sure that there is water in troughs for the cows to drink. They will also have provided food like maize silage in troughs and will have put down straw or sawdust as warm bedding.

    It will be a lot of work for the farmers during the winter months, but the cows will be warm and dry.

  6. The cows are glad to be inside out of the cold, but winter can feel like a long time, just as it can for all of us. It is likely that the cows get fed up of being cooped up inside the barn. They probably miss the fresh air and being able to roam in the fields or lie down on fresh grass.

    Let’s see what happens when they are let out of the barn!

    Show the YouTube video ‘Cows coming out in the summer. Happy cows!’ (1.03 minutes long).

  7. Ask the children to describe what the cows in the video were doing. Suggestions could include jumping for joy, sprinting around and jumping into the air with excitement.

    Identify that, for the cows, the moment when they are let out of the barn may well be their best day of the year!

Time for reflection

I wonder whether we have felt a bit like the cows this year. We haven’t been cooped up in a barn all winter, but we have been very restricted this year. However, this has been necessary for our welfare, just as it is for the cows.

Imagine how we will enjoy the new freedom of holiday time. Maybe we will be leaping about too! However we respond, it will be great to have some freedom to enjoy the world around us. Everyone in school hopes that you have a very happy, fun-filled holiday!

Dear God,
Thank you for holiday times.
We may not be going away for a holiday,
But just being able to run about and play outside in the fresh air is great.
Thank you for the freedom we have to do that in this country.


‘Summer holiday’ by Cliff Richard and The Shadows, available at: (2.08 minutes long)

‘If you’re happy and you know it’, available at: (0.56 minutes long)

Extension activities

  1. The children might like to draw some cartoon cows dancing with glee.
  2. Ask the children to research what is needed to winter animals. This would include food, drink, bedding and tools. You could ask them to create labelled drawings of their findings.
  3. Ask the children to add their own verses to the song ‘If you’re happy and you know it’.
Publication date: July 2021   (Vol.23 No.7)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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