Here a Chick, There a Chick: Hosting Project CHICK, a Life Science Unit for First-Grade Students

Project CHICK hatchlings at Davis School – Images by Susan Nocera (c) 2017, all rights reserved

By Linda White

Davis School first grade students were abuzz recently over the chicks hatching in their classrooms.

Nine first grade teachers including Susan Nocera and Anita Petrocelli participated in Project CHICK: Chickens Hatching in Classrooms, a program sponsored by Casey Farm in Saunderstown, Rhode Island that supports Common Core educational standards and goals for students in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Double click each of the gallery images to see it at full size

This First Grade Life Science Unit encouraged students to learn and understand the life cycle of baby chicks and also helps Casey Farm to preserve the endangered, historic Dominique chicken breed they raise.

Project CHICK provided everything needed for the project: an incubator, brooder, heat lamps, food and water feeders, electrical outlets, instructions, educational materials, support, AND a clutch of 12 to 18 hatching eggs per classroom.

Student work from Mrs. Petrocelli’s class – Courtesy image (c) 2017 all rights reserved – Click to view image at full size

Students experienced candling the eggs, then they made journal entries, drawings, and graphs of the process and progress. Once the chicks hatched at approximately 21 days, the students identified Rhode Island Reds, Black Range Broilers, and some very cute “mystery chicks” who were yellow and cream colored with black markings.

Nocera explained, “Project CHICK is designed for classrooms and makes the experience doable for teachers because everything is included for a successful, month-long, teachable unit. Students experienced the entire life cycle and gained a unique perspective from start to finish. Best of all, the students were totally engaged in watching the miracle happen before their eyes.”

Students monitored the progress as the eggs began to crack and carefully observed the importance of the baby chick’s egg tooth as the hatching process continued. Teachers brought the eggs and or chicks and their accoutrements home over the weekends to monitor and ensure the safety of the chicks.

Within one day after hatching, the chicks were standing, eating independently, and experiencing the cuddling and gentle one-finger touching of the first-grade students. Oohs and ahhs were frequent and audible.

When the chicks were about a week old, they were reluctantly returned to Casey Farm where they will experience farm life.

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