EYFS Activities: Sharing books… The Greedy Goat

This simple story is about a goat who goes on an eating rampage around the farm.

She’s had enough of grass so tries the dog’s food, the cat’s milk, the pig’s potatoes, even the farmer’s pants. She then becomes ill – hilariously illustrated by her turning shades of red, blue, yellow and green – but recovers over the course of the week, until finally she is back to her usual self. Just as things appear to be back to normal for everyone on the farm, we see the goat trying out the farmer’s wellies.


In some ways, this book is reminiscent of Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar, making it a perfect choice for children and adults who have enjoyed that story.

It is also suitable for a wide range of ages. Toddlers will enjoy looking at the illustrations and picking out objects, while other children will enjoy the humour within the story – especially when the goat eats the farmer’s underwear.

This is also a great book for new readers. There is little text and once children are familiar with the story, they may be able to pick out individual or even whole phrases.


On the first reading, it is worth focusing on the plot. On the second reading, allow the child, or small group of children, time to pick out features within the illustrations, such as the cat sleeping on the window sill, or the farmer’s daughter, later in the story, wearing only one shoe. We can also talk about whether the goat really did turn different colours.

On subsequent readings with older children, we may also find that they can remember the words on some pages of the text.


Personal, social and emotional development

The story raises some good questions about feelings. How might the girl have felt about her shoe being eaten, or the animals have felt about losing their food?

With older children, we can explore the farmer’s embarrassment at losing his pants. Naming feelings, such as embarrassment, is important for children’s emotional development. Can they think of a time when they were embarrassed?

Physical development

Particularly striking in the story is the illustration of the washing line. As part of an adult-guided activity, children could see if they can peg clothes onto a line. Using pegs can help to strengthen children’s hand muscles and develop their hand-eye co-ordination. The activity also links to mathematics as children can look for pairs of socks or order clothes according to size.

As part of teaching children about self-care, we can consider why the goat becomes ill and help children to understand why it can be dangerous to eat things that they find, such as berries in the garden.

Language development

There are quite a few expressions in the text to unpick with children. For example, the goat is ‘fed up’ with eating grass and herbs, and ‘washes down’ breakfast with the cat’s milk.

There is also some great vocabulary, such as ‘hiccupping’ and ‘burp’, where we see that day by day, the goat is returning to health. Some children may be unfamiliar with these expressions.

The illustrations, as well as the text, open up opportunities for developing children’s vocabulary, such as the ‘china’ on the ‘dresser’, the ‘udder’ on the goat and the ‘stripes’ on the farmer’s shirt.


Older children familiar with The Very Hungry Caterpillar might want to compare it with The Greedy Goat. Can they explain the similarities between the stories, and the difference between the endings?

We can also use this book to encourage mark-making. Perhaps the farmer and his family need to put up some signs to tell the goat to stop eating things.


When sharing this book, we can focus on various aspects of mathematics. For example, how many items does the goat actually eat? How many clothes are on the washing line and how many people are in the farmer’s family?

We can also use the story as an opportunity to see if children can order according to size, by either looking at the book or using toy farm animals. Is the goat bigger or smaller than the pig?

Understanding the World

The goat gets tired of eating herbs and grass. This opens opportunities for looking at, tasting or even growing a variety of herbs. There is also scope for exploring what animals eat and creating a pictorial chart of animals that eat grass.


Over the course of this monthly series on sharing books with children, Penny Tassoni will look at a range of fiction and non-fiction titles, from rhyming books for babies to picture books that adults and children can explore together.

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