Hatching chicks has been a long tradition at Bixby. While most of the curriculum is taught in Kindergarten and First Grades, all grades get to enjoy the experience of watching and caring for the baby chicks. Eggs are kept in an incubator at a specific temperature and humidity for 21 days before the chicks start to hatch. Hatching can take up to 24 hours and finally we move them to a brooder where they sleep, eat and begin to grow new feathers. This was my first time being involved in this process and it proved to be exciting, suspenseful, and full of opportunities for learning.
First graders created a Chick Journal where they kept track of the incubator heat and humidity, wrote observations, labeled pictures they drew and wrote down new vocabulary. Many of them hatched chicks in Kindergarten last year with Lisa so they were able to build upon that experience and apply their knowledge in a new way.
The chicks provided all grades with opportunities to think and learn about life cycles, basic needs, and caring for an animal. Students naturally think deeper about a subject when its happening right in front of them. They may never think twice about how a chick develops but when we candle a fertilized egg and illuminate the growing chick inside their curiosity is stimulated and they want to know more. “How does it eat inside of the egg?” “How does it know when to start breaking the egg?” “Why do they use their beak instead of their legs to break open the egg?” We often get the question “Why can’t we help the chick hatch out of its egg?”. That leads to discussions about the natural process of things, why its important for a chick to do the work on its own and the possible effect it might have if we disrupt these innate behaviors.
One special moment was with a second grade class that got to watch a chick as it hatched out of its egg. There was suspense as we waited since it can take up to an hour for the chick to make its way out and there were many encouraging cheers towards the end. When the chick finally fell out of the egg the second graders erupted in excitement and quickly noted the time and date so they could record its moment of “birth”.
Each day my classroom is filled with kids (and teachers!) wanting to check on the eggs and chicks, curious about what happens next, or excited to see how they behave in the brooder. Older students pop their head into my classroom and get excited remembering their experiences with the chicks in past years. Getting to witness this tiny slice of life first hand was memorable for me and one I’m sure the students will keep with them as well.