Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Chick Week

When I first started at my school a few years ago I was lucky enough to make the acquaintance of some ageing chickens that the school had hatched from eggs and seen through to old age. Sadly they went to chicken heaven throughout that first year I was at the school. In that year I saw the children take responsibility for looking after the chickens, feeding them, collecting the eggs, going immediately to our HT when they spotted any issues and cleaning out their coop. The children were super at telling the difference between them and patiently told me over and over which was which! So it was with great excitement my Head told us a few months ago that we would be getting a new batch of eggs for hatching which would be delivered after the summer half term. The staff decided that the first week back would be a week devoted to the chicks! Myself and the Year 3 teacher had a lovely time planning for our thematic week and I thought I would share a selection of our learning from the week.

Designing a Chicken Coop

Chickens need a safe place to live and roam and so we started off looking at our existing home for the chickens, discussing the design and the materials used. We then used some images I had found on Pinterest to look at other, more creative, examples of chicken coops. The children did really well discussing the practicalities of the different coops. We then designed our coops and I let the children have a little freedom in their designs. What resulted was a mixture of 'normal' coops and some a little more original (and slightly less realistic!) 

We then completed some descriptions about our coops, thinking about vocabulary to describe the features and also used it as an opportunity to work on our VCOP. I was so pleased with what they produced that we decided to put up a display!


I will use any learning opportunity to read and share new books and I found two super picture books we used throughout the week. Firstly 'Chicken Dance' by Tammi Sauer and Dan Santat. This was a super book about two chicken sharing their talents along with a range of other farmyard superstars. A visit by Elvis Poultry completes this enjoyable tale and as much as I tried to get the children doing their own chicken dance they were very reluctant! Instead we created some music to accompany the different talent acts and watched this super video from the publishers!

The second picture book we looked at was 'Interrupting Chicken' by David Ezra Stein. Poor Papa is desperate to tell his daughter a bedtime story but she won't stop interrupting! This video featuring the author and illustrator, David Ezra Stein, in a interesting insight into illustrating a picture book.

We used this book to create our own writing. The children enjoyed writing their own story and just as they were writing the resolution to the story their partner took over and finished the story! We have put this into a class book.

I would recommend both of these picture books, even if you are not having a theme week! I would suggest KS1 and lower KS2 for both but I think Year 5 and 6 would enjoy them too. 'Interrupting Chicken' is a good text to use to look at traditional tales as well. The third book we used was a non-fiction text that I used to launch our science work on eggs and the life cycle of chicks. 'Where do Chicks Come From?' was geared slightly more to KS1 but was actually a good explanation for lower KS2 as well and was a good opportunity to look at technical vocabulary.

Storytelling Eggs

I couldn't resist ordering these plastic eggs and realised they would be perfect for some storytelling work I wanted to do. This year I have spent a lot of time looking at creating stories with my class to move them away from the 'two friends went to the park, had fun and went home' type of story. We have spent time this year thinking about stories in different settings so I decided to focus on a farm. The children had to draw little pictures of settings, characters, objects etc that would be found on the farm that they could pick out of the egg and use to form a story. We had done similar before so it was a lovely recap. Once the children had made their picture prompts we went outside into the gorgeous sunshine and in pairs they told each other stories. It was a lovely end to the session! They then took them home to create stories with parents. 

This is a little snapshot of our 'Chick Week'. The most important thing though was the excitement that spread through the school with news spreading like wildfire that a crack had appeared, a chick had hatched and that feathers were appearing. Even as a fully grown adult I was excited by the chicks arrival and will forever remember being present for our final chick hatching. Anyone who follows me on Twitter or Instagram knows how much I loved it! And anyone passing through our KS2 library (their temporary home) and seeing a row of Year 5 boys sat transfixed, will know the power those little balls of fluff have over the children. We are keeping the four girls that hatched and I promise to share regular updates!

Thanks for reading!

Kelly Dotty

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