Running excitedly from sheep to goats to donkeys, children in Westover Elementary’s ESL Family Literacy Program learned about farm animals Wednesday at the Stamford Museum & Nature Center.

“If they come up to you, blow on their nose” was one tip from guide Victoria Marr for dealing with llamas, which are known for spitting if they feel threatened. Other tips included petting a llama's neck instead of its head so as not to scare them; not petting a horse’s behind so as not to get kicked; and petting animals with a flat hand away from their mouths so as not to get bitten.

“It’s so cool!” 7-year-old Noor Eideh said of the center as she tugged excitedly on her mother’s hand. The trip was part of a grant-enabled program that encourages parents and children whose first language is not English to do activities together to strengthen their literacy skills. “We have 27 people here today, families with children … because the grant requires opportunities for parents and children to share experiences together,” said teacher Elaine Braus.

The animals were a hit from the moment children arrived at the nature center’s office and saw wandering ducks and turkeys. “It smells like farm in here,” one girl said as Marr tried to elicit an answer to what wearable material sheep provide for humans.

“Big Sis,” a big black pig drew “aaw“s from many children, and one boy said, “Come on, you speak pig!” Pac Man the goat didn’t mind being petted as Marr told the group that two-thirds of the world drinks goat milk more often then cow milk.

“I liked the horse and pig the best,” said Laurie Labady, 9. “Horses because they’re friendly, and you get to ride on them, and pigs because they give you meat and I just like them as a friend.”

Axel Molina, 6, agreed about the horse. “The animal I liked best was the horse because I rode it once and it was really fun,” he said.

When was the last time you went to the Stamford Museum & Nature Center? What is your favorite part?