Today was an exciting day! The eggs in the incubator are at day 14… only 1 more week to go!
We began our day with a farm update. Since we last met, one of our Netherland Dwarf does had her kits! They are tiny, helpless newborns right now. Their eyes are still closed, and they are buried deep in their nest of hay and fur. We cannot see them yet, but I bred timed their kindling (birth) so that the baby kits would be strong enough to handle for our next workshop. Of course, the next workshop (right before Easter), is on bunnies!
The kids' seeds that they "planted" in gloves are beginning to sprout. The goat kids are growing and playing. The turkeys and guineas are laying, and Daisy the pig has now moved to an outdoor home. No more piggy jumping up on my bed!
The class learned about the different animals that lay eggs. We talked about hard shelled and soft shelled eggs, and discussed the parts of the egg. The class was able to look at and compare eggs from a chicken, guinea, emu, and ostrich. Then, we talked about different types of egg farms. They learned about free-range chickens, compared to confined ones. They then took an egg from our farm and a typical store-bought egg, cracked them open, and compared the yolks, albumin (whites), shell, and membrane. They were looked at the different yolk color, as well as the spread of the whites (thick whites do not spread as far as thin ones). They also each broke off pieces of the shell to compare their strength. They peeled away the internal membranes, comparing them, as well. While they made their observations, I explained the importance of humidity in hatching. If the humidity drops, the membrane dries up around the chicks. When this happens, we call the chicks “shrink wrapped”. The chicks are unable to hatch successfully. Hopefully, all will go well for next week’s hatch, but I prepared the class that things do not always go smoothly! We talked about the phrase, “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch!”
Next, we talked about chicken embryo development. In order to explain how the yolk provides nutrients to the developing chick, we talked about umbilical cords in mammals. Then, I explained that eggs are not inside the momma hens! Because they are outside the body, they need their own source of nutrition. The yolk is absorbed through the abdomen of the embryo. By hatch day, the chick is completely developed, and yolk is completely gone! The class looked at the chicken embryo models, drawing pictures of different stages. While they worked, I called a few back at a time to candle the eggs! Each child was able to clearly see the blood vessels, the air sacs, and the squirming little chicks inside the eggs! We could even point out a tiny chick foot which was pressed up against the shell!
Instead of my typical short children’s book, I chose to read the first half of Junie B. Jones “Peep in my Pocket”. The class was thrilled! Today’s reading brought up many topics to discuss. Junie B. was scared to death of ponies, and as she learned that ponies are not dangerous, her fear switched over to roosters. We talked not only about farm animals, but about fear and stress. We will finish the story next week!
Next, the class finished up their paper-cup-chicken craft. They should be dry and ready to take home next week! We also began the felt pillow animal project for this workshop. They worked to create little felt chickens. Next week, they will sew them up and stuff them! By the end of the year, they will have four little felt animals! Next school year, I will continue the felt animal projects for each workshop.