Students in Tina Emery’s kindergarten class at Skyline Elementary had a surprise waiting for them when they got to school Wednesday morning — four of their 12 chicks hatched from their eggs overnight. And during the day, a fifth chick hatched right before their eyes.
“We saw pecks in the eggs yesterday, so when they got here this morning they immediately asked if they had hatched yet,” Emery said. “They were so excited when they saw them.”
The class has had its furry guests since last Wednesday inside an incubator from the University of Missouri Pettis County Extension Center, and Emery said it was a lesson in patience for the students — they were eager for them to hatch as soon as they arrived. All of Skyline’s kindergarten classes have incubators this week, but not all of the chicks have hatched yet. Emery said one class hasn’t seen any emerge from their eggs, another class only has one so far, and the other classes have averaged about seven each.
“It’s a learning experience for those classes who don’t have eggs hatch,” Emery said. “Those students will come to the other classrooms to see the chicks and pet them.”
The teachers have had lessons each day about the life cycles of chickens, from egg to full grown. They’ve read books, sang fun songs about chickens, and learned facts about chicks that could impress most adults.
Emery had her students show off their knowledge of chicks when the Democrat visited her classroom Wednesday afternoon, including that it takes a chick 19 to 21 days to hatch, the newly born chicks can quickly lose their down — the small, soft feathers that are replaced with larger feathers — they have an “egg tooth” that helps them peck through their egg, which eventually dries up and falls off, and that they use the yolk for nutrition while in the egg.
“Yesterday we looked at a poster that showed what the chick looks like inside the egg for 19 to 21 days,” Emery said. “They were amazed that it was just a little dot. They had a hard time believing that’s what it starts as.”
The chicks will go home today with the family of one of Emery’s students who has a farm and already raises chickens.
Emery held one of the chicks and took it around the room for the students to pet on Wednesday. She said the students will get to hold them and take a photo with the chicks today. There were giggles and wide, happy smiles on the faces of most of the students while the chick chirped and tried to escape Emery’s hands as she walked around the classroom. The students were very knowledgeable about the newborn animals, but were also enamored with their adorable yellow fur.
One student said “I like them because the chicks are really fluffy,” while another said they liked having the chicks in their classroom because “once they hatch they look cute.”