Click, Clack, Moo Cows that Type teaches to Protect Animals
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Click, Clack, Moo Cows that Type teaches to Protect Animals

Categories Protect Animals 
Book Title: Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type

Author: Doreen Cronin

Illustrator: Betsy Lewin

Jewish Value: Protect Animals

Book Summary:

Farmer Brown has a problem. His cows like to type. All day long he hears:
Click, clack, moo.
Click, clack, moo.
Click, clack, moo.

But Farmer Brown's problems REALLY begin when his cows start leaving him notes...Come join the fun as a bunch of literate cows turn Farmer Brown's farm upside-down! 

Enduring Understandings:

  • The compassionate treatment of animals has been fundamental to Judaism. 
  • Together we can prevent or minimize the suffering of animals and encourage their humane treatment.

Essential Questions:

  1. What does it mean to treat animals with compassion? 
  2. What can we do to prevent or minimize the suffering of animals?

Be Inspired:The ideas included are offered as starting points as you and your students explore, discover and live the lessons. Be sure to elicit and encourage student and parent participation, consistently reinforcing the value being addressed. Allow lessons to authentically develop and change based on engagement and interests.

Lesson Plan Components

For the educatorJewish Thought, Text, and Traditionsmore

Tza’ar ba’alei chayim can be literally translated as “the suffering of living beings,” which in Judaism specifically refers to that of the treatment of animals. This is a mitzvah that must be upheld by doing what is necessary to prevent or minimize the suffering of animals as well as encourage humane treatment.

The Bible makes numerous references to the treatment of animals. For example, the Torah prohibits plowing with an ox and ass yoked together (Deuteronomy 22:10). In addition, Deuteronomy 5:14 states that animals, like humans, have Shabbat and are commanded to rest. Furthermore, Balaam is reprimanded for striking his ass (Numbers 23:32).

This value also emphasizes that owners of animals must feed, water, and otherwise care for their animals basic needs. In some cases, the owner may be required to take precautions to alleviate the suffering of their animals.

A commonly cited mitzvah mandates relieving an animal that is suffering from carrying too heavy a load. "If one encounters one s friend on the road and sees that that person s animal is suffering from its burden, whether the burden is appropriate for the animal or is excessive, it is a mitzvah to remove this burden” (Maimonides, Mishneh Torah). The basis for the mitzvah is the prohibition of tza’ar ba’alei chayim and that one must relieve an animal belonging even to an enemy (Kesef Mishneh).

Questions for Reflection

  1. Does the way someone treats animals indicate how he or she treats people? 
  2. What can you do to improve the quality of life of the animals that live outside your home or school? 
  3. What can you do to better take care of your pet (if you have one) and other animals? 
  4. How can you incorporate the value of tza’ar ba’alei chayim in the classroom?

Jewish every dayIncorporate Jewish Valuesmore

Adopt a class pet, either in the classroom or symbolically through a animal advocacy organization such as WWF:

Discuss with students what the pet will need in order to be safe and healthy. Determine responsibilities for the students so they can help with the care of the pet. Be sure to select a pet that can easily be taken care of during school holidays and breaks, and possibly visit student’s homes so that they can share personal responsibilities. Also, make sure that there are no students in the class whose allergies would prevent the inclusion of particular types of pets.

Materials and resourcesmore


  • Copy of Click, Clack Moo Cows That Type


Sharing The Storymore

Introducing The story

Look at the cover of the book. Have students name and describe the animals on the cover.

What else do they see on the cover other than the animals? If possible, bring in a typewriter for students to see and use.

Ask students what message the animals in the barn would be leaving if they could type. Write these ideas on a chart. See Language Experience Approach.

Reading The Story

Read the story aloud, stopping when appropriate to explore illustrations, address student comments, clarify, predict, and guide their understanding of the story and the value to protect animals-Tza ar Ba alei Chayim.

  • Why were the cows and hens unhappy? 
  • Do you think the cows and the hens had a good reason to write to Farmer Brown demanding changes in the way they were treated? Do you think the ducks’ demands were reasonable? 
  • Discuss the difference between “needs and “wants.” 
  • In the story, the ducks were neutral. What does this mean? When is it OK to be neutral? When isn’t it a good idea to be neutral? 

After The Story

Discuss the following in terms of Farmer Brown’s treatment of animals:

  • At the beginning of the book, do you think Farmer Brown showed “Kindness to Animals”? Why did Farmer Brown’s treatment of the animals change? 

In Jewish tradition, there are countless references to the treatment of animals. Display quotes below and have each student select one of the quotes and illustrate it. Bind these together to create and support the students as they choose a title and cover for their creation.

a. “A righteous man cares for the needs of his animals” (Proverbs 12:10).
b. “It is forbidden, according to the law of the Torah, to inflict pain upon any living creature.” The 16th-Century Code of Jewish Law (Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, Ch. 191:1-6).
c. A person should feed his or her animal before eating (Berachot 40a).
d. Animals should also rest on Shabbat (Deuteronomy 5:14).
e. Do not mistreat your animals (Deuteronomy 22:10).


Explore, Discover, and More Extension and Reinforcement Activitiesmore

How Animals Help Humans

Community Helpers, Science 
Share the following video regarding the ways in which animals help humans: Discuss what students find surprising. Encourage students to find ways to support programs in your community that benefit animals and people.

Dramatic Pet Play
Movement, Dramatic Play, Science 
Discuss with students what type of pet each has at home (or the favorite pet of a relative). Ask students to “become” this pet and imagine what the animal would say if it could talk. (What makes it happiest? What makes it saddest? What can the people who love it do to make its life even better?) Encourage students to move as this animal might move and create a “voice” for the animal. (If possible, have students bring in a photograph of the pet or create a sketch of it to share with the class.)

Humane Society
Community Helpers 
Learn more about kindness to animals by visiting the American Humane Society website at Learn what other children across the country are doing to help animals and what special events are being hosted. As a community, select one of these projects to become involved with or create one of your own. Encourage family and neighbors to take part in this endeavor as well.

Sharing Sacred Stories
Story Telling, Talmud Torah 
There are a lot of stories in Jewish texts that involve animals. Explore one or more of the following stories: “King David and the Spider” (Midrash from Ben Sira); “Balaam, the Donkey” (Numbers 22:22-35); “Elephants at Chanukah” (1 Maccabees 6:32-39); “Jonah and the Whale” (The Book of Jonah 1:7ff); “Ram and Isaac” (Genesis 22:13ff); “The Dove on Noah’s Ark” (Genesis 8:6-12); etc. What role do these animals play and how was our Jewish experience/history altered by their actions? Watch the creative interpretations of two of these stories:
David and The Spiders:
Balaam The Donkey:
Create your own class variation of an animal story from Jewish tradition.

Text Study
Talmud Torah
Rebecca was chosen to become Isaac’s wife because of her kindness toward his camels (Genesis 24:14). This resource from the Union for Reform Judaism can help teachers and parents explore this story to reinforce understandings of how to protect animals-- tza’ar baalei chayim:

Music Connectionsmore

List of All Songs

“All the World’s Animals” by Miss Emily Aronoff Teck
Track # 7 from Good Choices, Volume 2

Inspiration Text

“A righteous man has regard for the life of his beast.” -Proverbs 12:10


Introduce the following song, which is an ode to all animals and our responsibilities to them--tza’ar ba’alei chayim. When thinking about animals, most children categorize them by their movements or sounds. The idea that animals work might be new to some students. Ask students if they know which animals work (for example, a horse that pulls a cart, a dog that sees for the blind or a dog that works with the police, or carrier pigeons that deliver messages). Provide visuals to illustrate these animals that work to help us.


All the worlds’ animals, big and small
All the world’s animals, short and tall
Living in the wild or living in a zoo
All the world’s animals, We’ll protect you

To all the animals swimming in the sea
We’ll try to keep the ocean litter free X2


To all the animals that like to fly
We’ll try to keep pollution out of the sky X2


To the pets, dogs and cats we love so much
We’ll show that we care with a gentle touch X2


To all the worlds’ animals that work a lot
We hope you rest on Shabbat!


Additional Music Connections

Evidence of Learningmore

Students can explain why it is a mitzvah to protect animals.


Invite guest speakers from local organizations that deal with animals: animal shelters, the Humane Society, the zoo, pet stores, veterinarians, etc.

Have students prepare questions to interview these guests to find out how the animals are being treated and what can be done to help improve their lives.

Create a class bulletin board or brochure, “How We Can Help and Protect Our Animals.” Display work for parents and community to suggest ways each of us can help (e.g., make pillows for shelter animals to sleep on).

Visit your local zoo. During the visit, have your children list things they noticed (or take pictures) that show how animals are protected and treated. Do the Zookeepers follow the mitzvah of Tza’ar Ba’alei Chayim? Have them write a letter to the head of the zoo to describe what they discovered. Include the pictures or drawings to illustrate these findings.

literature connectionsmore

TitleAuthorIllustratorBook Summary
Hey, Little Ant Phillip M. Hoose and Hannah HooseDebbie TilleyTo squish or not to squish? A small ant and a child debate whether the ant should live or not. The story highlights the importance of perception and discussion and encourages children to discuss their viewpoints as well.
The Shabbat Puppy* Leslie KimmelmanJaime Zollars

Every Saturday Noah and his grandfather go for a walk together, looking for “Shabbat Shalom” – Sabbath Peace. For what seems like the longest time to the little boy, Grandpa won’t allow Mazel, Noah’s puppy, to join them. Eventually, though, the dog is permitted to join in, with sweet results.

A Home for Dakota Jan Zita Grover A neglected, sick dog suffers the atrocious and cruel existence of being bred in a puppy mill until she is eventually rescued. After some time, she is adopted by a family with a young girl, who is also sick, but it takes time for the dog to begin to trust people.
The Wolves Are Back Jean Craighead GeorgeWendell MinorChildren are introduced to the interconnectedness of the various ecosystems and the consequences of disrupting the balance of nature when an element, in this case, the wolves, are no longer part of the system. They also get to see what happens when this balance is restored.
The Kingdom Of The Singing Birds Miriam AronerShelly O. HaasA palace aviary is home to birds from all over the world, but the birds do not sing. Finally, he asks a gentle rabbi, named Zusya, to help make the birds sing. Zusya informs the king, “If you want the birds to sing, you must let them go free.”
* PJ library Books