Saturday, January 8, 2011

Chicken a la Preschool

As you know, we have been incubating chicken eggs in our classroom. This blog post will provide you with a very exciting update, so keep reading!

Some time between eight PM Monday and seven AM Tuesday, something was stirring at Columbus
Preschool.
In the morning, I could
hear this faint, wild chirping as I walked into the classroom. I excitedly peered into the incubator and, lo and behold, there was one tiny beautiful chick calling out to the world! I dropped to my knees, fists raised towards the sky.... YESSS!!!!


After twenty-one agonizing days of incubation, our first chick broke on through to the other side, and I could breathe a sigh of relief. Its chirps were sirens for the other chicks, saying "C'mon, let's get this party started!! Look, there's food and water, and its 95 degrees!!"

Here you can see the look on a child's face when they see the moment a live chick hatches. This was a very beautiful moment for many reasons:



Below are more pictures of the chicks, including the children preparing the tank, where each chick was moved 24 hours after hatching. The video below (fourth image) captures that UNBELIEVABLE moment at the end of the hatch, which I waited patiently (at times) to see (stayed at school 'til 5pm one day..)



video

Two more chicks hatched on Tuesday, and one more on Wednesday; the remaining three eggs did not hatch. Sadly, Wednesday's chick did not survive, and we had a memorial service of sorts on Thursday morning. We explained to the children what had happened, and allowed them to view and touch the dead chick (latex gloves provided). None of the children seemed stressed out about the situation or cried, but all recognized that this was a sad event. They suggested ways that it might have died: the incubator was too hot or too cold, it jumped up inside the incubator and fell and hit its head, or someone came into the classroom at night and stabbed it a little bit with a sword.
The Pre-K class next door hatched 2 out of 7 chicks, so this year we had a combined 5
out of 14 survive. Other years have had higher success rates, but it appears that this was not a 'good year' for chicken eggs from the farm in Ossining, incubated at Columbus Preschool.

Below is another video of a different set of eggs hatching. Do these baby chicks look like ours do?



Check out this great chicken rescue game that you can play right here:

Rescue a Chicken Games with Games68.com



The children also made some truly amazing artwork about the chicks, using their keen observational skills to make everything from ink-and-watercolor paintings to three-dimensional sculptures of the chicks concocted from tissue paper, pom poms, tape, and pipe cleaners; this idea came 100% from the creative minds of the children. Incredible!!








Here are a few links for you and your child to explore. They contain a wealth of information about the life cycle of a chicken, so be sure to investigate.

Life Cycle of a Chicken
Chickscope: Inside the Egg
PBS Animal Life Cycles
All About Chickens
Chickens for Kids and Teachers
Chicken Crafts


And just when I couldn't be any more impressed, along comes our first Litter-Less Lunch (Friday). Leading up to this milestone, we had many discussions about trash and recycling, and examined the children's typical lunch-packing habits. Much of our usual waste was comprised of juice boxes and ziploc baggies, and we talked about why
thermoses are better than juice boxes, and why tupperware is better than ziplocs. The results are below, Thursday's trash compared to Friday's, and I couldn't be more thrilled! We will continue to make a big stink (no pun intended) about the major reduction in waste, and from now on, every Friday is Litter-Less Lunch Day!! We did it!











Above, you can see examples of the children's Litter-Less Lunches. Great job, everyone!!
Since consumer habits are formed early on, we are thrilled to be talking about conservation with the children, and they have been getting very excited about it all. On Friday, we made our own paper with Radha, who brought in her paper-making kits. We used construction paper from our scrap bin during this was a multi-step process. First we had to rip up the paper into small bits, then blend it with water, pour it on the mesh screens, squeeze the water out, and finally let it dry. All the adults truly put a lot of effort in to making this activity fun for the children.. it was really cool!









We will continue the project on Monday, and hope to write 'green messages' on the paper to help children (and parents) always consider earth-friendly consumer choices.

______________________________________________________

Reflection:

For two years, I maintained this blog as weekly documentation for my preschool classroom. Instead of sending home a newsletter each week (which was wasteful and ineffective, since many newsletters were misplaced between the students’ classroom and their home), I decided to use a blog instead. This medium enabled me to include many photographs, videos, and links to share with the parents. I was able to develop the documentation in ways that the short format of a newsletter would not permit.

Soon after the blog was posted, I started receiving generous feedback from parents. They appreciated how in-depth the posts were, and how they were able to really see what their children were doing in the classroom. They said they would sit with their children at the computer and review the post together. This functioned as a great way to reinforce some of the topics and concepts covered in the classroom.

Parents also expressed to me how easily they could share the blog posts with other members of their family, since they could just send them the link to the site. Grandparents began to compliment the website as well, and although it occupied a lot of my own personal time, I felt it was worth it to continue posting on the site.

Although I no longer work at the same school and I no longer maintain the website, I am able to review the archives at my leisure when I need some good ideas for my current classroom, or even if I want to reminisce. My current school uses a traditional hand-out newsletter, but I have considered suggesting the blog idea to my current team.

Although the technology behind a blog is not really being used ‘in’ the classroom, I feel that as a technological tool, it has proven very worthwhile to use in connection with my students, families, and coworkers.