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These chickens have enriched our lives so much since they came to our school. To begin with, the children hatched them out in their classrooms, carefully monitoring the temperature and checking the humidity of the incubators. They candled them and got to see through the shell the living, moving embryo contained within – an embryo that is similar to a human’s for a period of time. That was an amazing lesson! They got to witness the tiny chicks’ great effort to get out of the shell, and what happens if they cannot.

The children displayed tremendous empathy when one chick struggled to survive for the first 24 hours. They organized heat lamps, shavings, water, food, and shelter as the chicks grew. They built a small fenced area for them to run around in daily. It was great.

Some wonderful parents got together and built an amazing coop on wheels, and the then-young pullets were able to move into their large fenced area. This provided the opportunity for more chickens, and suddenly there was lots and lots of research done on various heritage breeds of chickens. That was followed by the children voting on the breeds they wanted – democracy at its best. A going out was organized by the children to Over the Grass Farm, where they planned to purchase four Orphingtons to add to their flock of Leghorns with their own hard-earned money. To their surprise, the farm donated the hens instead.

Then I want you to imagine what it was like when they found the first egg. It was possibly akin to a good-sized lottery win….. but it was nothing in comparison to the children actually seeing an egg being laid. I heard the screams long before I saw the children, and yes, the hair stood up on the back of my neck. I thought it was going to be bad, so you can imagine how I felt when all the screaming children told me, “We saw the egg coming out! It came out of Henny Penny’s butt.” Yes, it was a great moment! The students have now organized Leslie Edmundson, who taught the Elementary children an agriculture class two years ago, to come to school and do a unit on how the egg is made and laid!

Just when I thought it could not get any better, the children came up with some great ways to make money to maintain the hens. They are putting the most amazing ideas out there to get the neighbors buying stuff, people coming from all over to The Store…..very elaborate indeed. They settled on the Mountainside Shop to sell products to our very own parents. Don’t you love the entrepreneurship here? I hope you do, because I just want to burst with pride and excitement when I hear and see these children come up with ideas and then make them happen. It is all them! And I love all of you for supporting them in their endeavors.

But here is my favourite of all the benefits: The other day a Primary child was having a very bad morning and ended up in the office screaming and throwing the biggest of tantrums, not to be consoled by anyone. I stuck my head in the door and said, “Oh, did you know we got a new chocolate-colored hen today? Would you like to go and visit her?” I got two nurturing Elementary children to take the Primary child out for the visit. I looked out the window as they each held her hand and walked across the grass to the chickens. There I could see them laughing and running around trying to catch Coco (the new Cuckoo Maran hen). How wonderful is that!