Monkey Farm
November 24, 2013 4:00 PM   Subscribe

My 3yo wants a monkey farm for Christmas. We have no idea what a monkey farm is.

Our 3yo is bright, funny and has been obsessed with monkeys for as long as we can remember. For this Christmas she has asked for a 'monkey farm' and for a moment that sounds completely reasonable until you realise that you have no idea what a monkey farm is. On the other hand it is possible that she has a very clear idea of what a monkey farm is, which she is unable to communicate to us.

So this is a two-part question. First of all, is there a cultural reference to monkey farms that she may have picked up somewhere (most likely CBeebies, since we are in the UK, or a film or something) that we and Google are unaware of?

If not—and we suspect not—then how can we find or create a monkey farm that will satisfy the Christmas requirements of a small child who has been known to burst into tears if presented with a spoon that isn't pink?

All help gratefully received.
posted by Hogshead to Shopping (37 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
There's Sea Monkey kits you can get, it's like a little tank that you grown brine shrimp (I think) in.
posted by Ranting Prophet of DOOM! at 4:04 PM on November 24, 2013 [5 favorites]

Have you asked her to draw a picture?
posted by discopolo at 4:06 PM on November 24, 2013 [4 favorites]

Is there a possibility that she's referring to Sea Monkeys?

I remember being EXTREMELY excited about our Sea Monkey kit when I was about the same age, and assuming it would be something much more like a "monkey farm" and much less like, well, a bunch of minnows or shrimp or whatever.

FWIW I think three is about the right age to learn that just because you ask for something doesn't mean you will get it, or that the grownups who are in charge of such things will even understand what you mean. There is a certain point at which she has to learn that you guys don't actually share a brain.
posted by Sara C. at 4:07 PM on November 24, 2013 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: You can buy Sea Monkeys in shops here, but the only reference to monkeys on them is in text—the pictures don't show anything monkey-like—and she's three, she can't read. I'm pretty sure it's not sea monkeys.
posted by Hogshead at 4:18 PM on November 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

Barrel of Monkeys?
posted by tomboko at 4:19 PM on November 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

I have no idea what one is - but I would put together some kind of corrall/toybox and fill it with all kinds of stuffed toy monkeys. Full to bursting.
posted by crankyrogalsky at 4:26 PM on November 24, 2013 [10 favorites]

I like the idea of asking her to draw a picture, or, failing that, better describe what a monkey farm is for you.

However, I very much agree with Sara C. on this point: FWIW I think three is about the right age to learn that just because you ask for something doesn't mean you will get it

"[Bursting] into tears if presented with a spoon that isn't pink" is the sort of behavior that needs to cease sooner rather than later. If you aren't able to get the monkey farm she has in the mind, think of it as a great learning opportunity.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 4:31 PM on November 24, 2013 [11 favorites]

I would buy a standard farm toy set (you know, barn, fences, tractor) and lots of suitably sized toy monkeys. If the farm comes with standard farm animals, just remove them and save them for later.
posted by charmcityblues at 4:34 PM on November 24, 2013 [12 favorites]

Yeah, get/make a monkey inspired play quilt (example, example, example) that would be the farm area and then get/make some monkey family for her to play with. There definitely needs to be multiple monkeys on the farm.
posted by travelwithcats at 4:45 PM on November 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Playmobil 3726 has nice monkeys. Discontinued but with box on eBay, $25. Playmobil has excellent farm sets, so...

(OP didn't say they are providing pink spoons on demand)
posted by kmennie at 4:51 PM on November 24, 2013 [7 favorites]

Is there somewhere in the UK like ?
posted by lorisr at 5:04 PM on November 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have a 3 year old and when I have trouble understanding what he wants, we will google image search or look online to figure out what's in his head. Try that with her!
posted by katypickle at 5:18 PM on November 24, 2013

we will google image search or look online to figure out what's in his head.

oh man just be careful with this one. There are a lot of animal research images in the results, ranging from not at all pretty to really terrifying.
posted by evilmomlady at 5:27 PM on November 24, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Well... you could always adopt a primate.
posted by Nanukthedog at 5:39 PM on November 24, 2013

Try asking her "who has a monkey farm?"

Fifteen years ago, my son had a heck of a time getting through to me about something he wanted for xmas. The pokey man? No. Something that's pokey? No! Something with polka dots? No...

I learned about Pokemon cards when his friend brought them along on a sleepover.
posted by she's not there at 5:49 PM on November 24, 2013 [4 favorites]

Is it possible that you could provide her with materials to make her own monkey farm?

Perhaps some Duplo blocks, or Lincoln Logs, for the farm; then something like these Monkey Sticker Dolls along with some kind of big, non-chokable stand to attach them to?

This could be the coolest thing. If she makes it herself -- and if she's even a little open in her idea -- making something yourself can actually make you like it more.

Just be aware - you could be looking at these monkeys for a while :)
posted by amtho at 5:51 PM on November 24, 2013

There's a Curious George picture book that is set on a farm but it's kinda young for a 3 year old.

I love the facial expressions on these tiny plastic monkeys. They are very small however, so only if she's past the age of cramming toys up her nose or down her windpipe. Personally, the three year old in me would insist that monkeys live on a banana farm: desktop sized with live plants or a jug of plastic ones (which are actually coconut palms but she probably can't tell the difference between the two yet).
posted by jamaro at 5:58 PM on November 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Possibly this Monkey Business Game? Which looks awesome.
posted by thisclickableme at 5:58 PM on November 24, 2013

I'm thinking she literally wants a farm of real monkeys to play with. I guess I would go with the above ideas of getting a play setinstead. Or 5 monkey stuffed animals.
posted by KogeLiz at 6:18 PM on November 24, 2013

Best answer: With this household's 3-year old, we've had good luck asking if/where he saw it, bringing him to toy stores to confirm what he's talking about, and showing him pictures of maybes on Amazon. (I'd rather be bad at surprises than get a thing that is not THE thing. Especially for the holidays.) If she goes to preschool, ask the teachers; ours have been very helpful with decoding utter nonsense.

"Monkey farm" might also be three-year-old for "Zoo." Or some clip of a Jane Goodall documentary.
posted by tchemgrrl at 6:21 PM on November 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

My 3-year-old daughter has this Moving Monkeys toy which is great fun, very rube goldberg engineeresque, and could totally be described as a monkey farm.
posted by 256 at 6:34 PM on November 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

The first thing that came to my mind is monkey farm sounds sort of similar to monkey bars. Could that be what she wants? Kids are bad at words sometimes.
posted by gueneverey at 6:48 PM on November 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

Don't buy anything, just go to the zoo!!!!
posted by oceanjesse at 6:49 PM on November 24, 2013

These little guys are cute and a couple of sets of them could make a pretty good farm.
posted by MsMolly at 6:51 PM on November 24, 2013

Best answer: Is it possible she saw an ad for the Trentham Monkey Forest?
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 6:54 PM on November 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

If you can do a little acting, tell her that you have found a couple different monkey farms, but you want to be extra sure you are getting just the right one for her. So can she draw a picture or tell you more about it, so when you go to the monkey farm store they'll know what color to get and stuff?

Of course, if she says she wants to come to the monkey farm store and see all the monkey farms, that's a different problem, but let's hope it doesn't come to that.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:22 PM on November 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Maybe a Barrel of Monkeys?
posted by latch24 at 9:57 PM on November 24, 2013

Just a couple of links in case you go for the make-it-up-from-pieces approach - these have worked for kids we know -

Lego Duplo Farm (kit 6141) has been warmly received by the preschooler we gave it to - it has a nice easy to operate fence which can corral whatever animals you have on hand.

Safari Ltd Toob of Monkeys and Apes - this company makes small animal figures of many kinds, and they're a nice size to play with.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:40 PM on November 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Seconding Trentham Monkey Forest & adding Monkey World in Dorset.
posted by pammeke at 4:58 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

This is one of those things where I would just sort of double down on trying to figure out what it is she means. Try asking things like:

- Is this something you've seen before? Where did you see it? Was it in a store or on TV?
- It is something you can have, like a toy, or is it a place you would go, like the zoo?
- If the former: How big is it? Can you tell me some things you can do with a monkey farm?

This line of inquiry should give you some direction towards figuring out whether this is an actual thing. Kids are weird, so the trick is to try to devise a line of questioning that circumvents the kid-weirdness as much as possible. You're her parents, so you'd be able to figure that one out better than I would.

I say this because I remember what it was like being a kid - one time (this would have been in the early 1980s), my aunt was babysitting me and my two siblings, and we were trying to figure out where to eat. So everyone suggested one place and we put it to a vote. We came up with places like Friendly's, stuff like that.

My nomination was for "Cave of the Devil." That is what I called it. No one asked any questions about this. I had this clear picture in my head, and I was certain that the place was called Cave of the Devil, and that their food was excellent. What's especially weird is that I could read at that point, and should have known better, but as I say, kids are weird.

Thank God no one voted for Cave of the Devil, because if it had won somehow, there'd have been a nasty surprise in store if we'd driven the half hour to the Hanover Mall and discovered that I'd been talking about Orange Julius.

So that's the kind of thing you've got to combat here.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 8:16 AM on November 25, 2013 [15 favorites]

Best answer: For an expert answer, I asked my 3yo if he knew what a monkey farm was.

He said, 'Not a monkey farm… you mean the jungle?'

I said, 'OK, the jungle.'

He said, 'We went to the jungle when we saw the monkeys.'

I said, 'You mean the safari park?'

He said, 'Yeah, the safari park. Why do monkeys hang upside down?'
posted by popcassady at 10:22 AM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]

I know sea monkeys look nothing like monkeys, but if she's been to a preschool class or a playgroup or has a friend, such that she's heard anybody refer to their sea monkey population as the monkey farm, I could imagine her wanting one on general principle, whether it has anything to do with real monkeys or not. It might be what she's thinking of. She might be disappointed when she finds out what it IS, but that doesn't mean it's not what she's thinking of.

So yes, ask her where she heard of a monkey farm, where she saw one, who has one, etc.
posted by aimedwander at 11:01 AM on November 25, 2013

It occurs to me, is it possible she has heard of an "ant farm" and decided she would prefer one with monkeys in it?
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:23 PM on November 25, 2013

Is there any confirmation on what the Monkey Farm could be from the 3 year old asking for it?
I've been watching this question with interest since it was posted :)
posted by Cookbooks and Chaos at 8:01 PM on November 26, 2013

Response by poster: After a couple of sessions of tense interrogation and quite a lot of demands for biscuits, I think I've nailed down the 'Monkey Farm' to the squirrel-monkey walk-through enclosure at London Zoo. She's adamant that it's a real place and she's actually been there, it has trees and swings, and the monkeys are little, and there was a 'farmkeeper' (there was a zoo attendant in the enclosure last time we went). Then she demands more biscuits.

Thanks to this thread I've ordered two toys that should keep her happy: the Playmobil Monkey Tree 3238 (discontinued but widely available on eBay), and the ELC Monkey Business game. Little monkeys swinging from trees, and a farm keeper, and bananas which are her second favourite things in the world after monkeys. Job done.

Much gratitude for all your help.
posted by Hogshead at 4:02 AM on November 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

Just this evening I came across these and thought of this post! I am utterly baffled by them, but they are a... thing... and there is a farm and a zoo that goes with them made by the same weird company.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:34 PM on November 29, 2013

Response by poster: A final follow-up: we also gave her the Papo Bush Outpost, a really durable and cleverly designed toy—I hesitate to say 'heirloom quality' but it feels like it's built to last—which has become her most played-with Christmas present. And for her birthday we're taking her to Monkey World.
posted by Hogshead at 7:15 AM on February 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

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