Many early elementary teachers cover the plant life cycle and the butterfly life cycle, but have you have studied the life cycle of chicks? This is SUCH and fun and engaging science unit to use in your classroom, especially during early spring! Today, I am bringing you a roundup of all my favorite activities to use with my littles to learn all about the chick life cycle!
INTRODUCE THE CHICKEN LIFE CYCLE
Whenever I start a new unit with my students, I ALWAYS start with books. Read-aloud books are a great way to introduce a new topic and help give your students some background. Not to mention, reading books with your students will set the stage for the activities to follow!
Some of my favorites for learning all about chicks and chickens are:
- Chicks! By Sandra Horning
- Chicken Life Cycle by David Schwartz
- Life Cycle of a Chicken by Karen Kenney
- Egg to Chicken by Jodie Shepherd
- Hatching Chicks in Room 6 by Caroline Arnold
- Chicks and Chickens by Gail Gibbons
All of these books will provide a great starting point for your lessons! Be sure to check on YouTube as well! I have found many of these stories available as a read-aloud on there and that’s a great way to mix it up a little with your students.
HATCHING CHICKS IN THE CLASSROOM
Hatching your very own chicks in your classroom might seem a bit overwhelming, but I promise – it isn’t overly complicated! This is one of my very favorite activities to do with my class because the children find it so very exciting! Anything that gets my students interested is typically a good topic of study for engaged learning!
Now. . . be warned, they can be a bit pricey. You can find egg incubators from $50 up to hundreds of dollars. But before you run out and buy one on your own, check to see if your local FFA or 4-H organizations have one you can use. If you can’t find one to borrow, then ask about classroom grant money, donations, or even consider posting a project on Donors Choose.
Even if none of these are an option, I highly recommend saving your pennies for this expense! You will be able to use it year after year and it creates such a high level of student engagement!
If you would like to buy one in person, I recommend going into a feed store like Tractor Supply and speaking directly with the employees about your options. I am a HUGE fan of Tractor Supply, as the employees are always very knowledgeable and happy to answer ALL THE QUESTIONS! Speak with them about your options for incubators and they will happily point you in the right direction.
FIND THE EGGS
Now that you have the incubator, you will need some hatching eggs! Again, I recommend talking to those super helpful folks at the feed store.
Even if you don’t have a tractor supply, I have found that most areas have some kind of feed store and they will advertise where to find “hatching eggs” or “fertile eggs”. Often, the feed store themselves won’t sell them, but they will point you in the right direction.
Just be sure to plan ahead a little to give yourself some time, because sometimes they can be tricky to find.
Facebook Marketplace and local farms are other great places to look. I have even seen fertile eggs at Trader Joe’s and other grocers, just ask around!
Another thing to consider when getting your eggs is the timing. You don’t want to be on spring break when the chicks are hatching. You will need 3 weeks for this project so try to time starting your eggs at a time when school holidays won’t be happening.
TIPS AND TRICKS FOR A SUCCESSFUL HATCH
If you’re curious about the stages of development of your chick eggs, The Poultry Site has some excellent information! I recommend reading through it before you start on this project with your students just to familiarize yourself with the process and know what to expect day by day.
There are also a few things to be mindful of when hatching chicks in the classroom:
- Be sure to keep the incubator temperature at the proper level for hatching. Remember, you are simulating the nice warm environment of a mother hen sitting on her eggs.
- Don’t open your incubator often. This will drop the temperature of the eggs and could keep them from developing properly.
- After 7-10 days, you can use an Egg Candler to check for signs of development in your eggs. This process, called candling, is a fun class activity leading up to hatching day. It’s also a great time to start preparing students that all eggs might not develop into a chick.
- Do not help your chicks exit their shells no matter how tempting, once they begin hatching. More often than not this could seriously injure your chicks.
Chicken Life Cycle ACTIVITIES
Once you have introduced your topic and got your incubator going it’s time to jump into some activities with your littles. Lucky for you, I created an entire unit to go along with hatching chicks in the classroom! These activities will help your students truly grasp the chicken life cycle and do some observing of their own throughout the process!
CHICK LIFE CYCLE READERS
Chicks take 21 days to hatch, so it’s a good idea to continue reading with your students and checking in on their comprehension throughout this period.
In addition to the list of books I read aloud with my class, my Chick Life Cycle activities unit comes with a mini reader that I love to use with my students.
This book covers all of the essential facts about chicks, the incubation period, and how they will hatch! Students will read through the book and color the picture. This is a great small group activity!
Included with this mini reader, you will also find a comprehension assessment for students to test their knowledge! There are 3 versions of this comprehension quiz included for easy differentiation by student skill level as well!
Chicken SEQUENCING ACTIVITIES
Also in this unit, you will find fun activities for sequencing how chicks hatch! There are full-color cards provided for use on a pocket chart.
I love to model this as a group activity and then pass out the black and white cards for my students to color and cut.
Next, provide sentence strips and allow students to glue the pictures in the correct order. This activity helps build the anticipation of watching the chicks hatch in real life. This is a pretty exciting thing to watch!
In addition to the sequencing sentence strip, I have provided a writing activity for students to describe in their own words how chicks hatch. Students will write what happens first, next and last in this activity and then illustrate their work!
DAILY OBSERVATION JOURNALS
Included in my Chick Life Cycle Unit you will find daily observation journals for your students to record what they see.
This is a great way to work on those early writing skills in a fun way! I recommend using this one as a small group activity so that you can provide some supervision of your students while they observe the eggs inside the incubator.
This is also a great opportunity for you to ask specific questions to prompt deeper thinking about what is going on inside the egg.
Grab this fun sign to display on your board to count down the days until the chick’s birthday! Laminate the sign and use a dry erase marker to start at 21 and countdown with your students each day! You can get this sign for free by signing up below.
DIGITAL RESOURCES FOR THE CHICK LIFE CYCLE
Don’t forget to check YouTube again for videos all about hatching chicks in the classroom. There are TONS of great resources out there that I love to play on the screen for my students. Whether you hatch chicks in your classroom or go the digital route, this is such a fun and engaging topic of study for your students.
I hope you enjoyed seeing how my classroom studies this topic! I can’t recommend this science unit enough, it truly is so captivating to my students and in turn, makes engagement an absolute breeze! Give hatching chicks a try in your classroom this year for an extra fun way to spend spring with your students!
Be sure to grab this amazing Hatching Chicks resource today!
SAVE THESE IDEAS FOR LATER
Don’t forget to save these ideas to your favorite classroom Pinterest board for when you’re ready to try hatching chicks in your classroom!