Chick Hatching Project

Second Graders Across Weakley Celebrate Chicks
Posted on 03/22/2021
This is the image for the news article titled Second Graders Across Weakley Celebrate ChicksWhen Terri Brundige and other farmers from throughout the county delivered a dozen fertile eggs to each school’s second grade classrooms three weeks ago, she was noticeably nervous.

“I just hope they hatch,” she confessed of the project that included incubators, candling tools for observing growth, brood boxes and lights, waterers and feeders, journals, and study materials. “I don’t want to disappoint the children.”

Twenty-one days later, the students’ excitement could not be contained as most classes have seen 3, 4 and as many as 8 chicks make their way to freedom outside the shell.

“I’m beyond thrilled,” she shared as she checked in on the second grade teachers and learned of the progress.

On the day when most of the chicks hatched, their chirping could sometimes be heard over the students’ exclamations, but only if the equally excited teachers called for attention. When asked, one young boy said of the births, “My mind was blown.” Students enthusiastically shared about the candling process that allowed them to detect viable embryos and chronicle the growth. One or two were amazed to see that blood was involved in the birth process.

A grant from the Tennessee Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom afforded Brundige and the Weakley County Farm Bureau Women's Committee with president Linda Fowler, the chance to organize the project. The experience has been deemed a success by teachers.

“This has been the highlight of Spring 2021!” exclaimed Sherry Hatchel from Dresden Elementary. “It was such a miracle to watch the little chicks hatch! Each child learned about the life-cycle and care and feeding of chicks. They were nice additions to our class!”

Greenfield’s Beth Ann Sawyers offered regular updates on her Facebook page including the initial “birth announcement” reporting that after a day of watching and waiting, chick “Alivia made her arrival at 2:47 p.m. right before dismissal.”

Alison Whaley Crotts from Martin Primary describes some of the learning that has been possible. “We had a math lesson based on the brooding box. We measured its dimensions, defined the three dimensional shapes (box is a cube, the light is half of a sphere, the feeder is a cylinder), and solved elapsed time problems using our chick’s hatch times!” she explained.

Using the gifted journals for narrative writing, increasing vocabulary words and recording observations are also among the learning that has transpired. “This has been such a great experience and I’m finding tons of ways to incorporate the project into our standards,” she reported.

Kim Castleman at Martin Primary acknowledged that she initially did not embrace the project but is now a convert hoping for a repeat next year. She points to how much the children learned from the hands-on experience and that they were then eager to write what they were seeing. She even was able to teach some life lessons.

“Sadly, one did not make it completely out of his shell and died. The kids know this is the 'circle of life' and were sad, but ok with it,” she said of the chick the students had named Woody when they initially labeled each egg. “We held Woody a memorial service and buried him by our classroom door. When I asked if we should sing a song, they chose the Star Spangled Banner. Some even saluted as I buried him. It was precious and, oddly, one of the most precious moments of the year.”

Nicki Moore, also at Martin Primary, underscores the empathy she’s seen as well, “This experience has been incredibly exciting and the children are filled with wonder. The nurturing nature of my students has been evident throughout this past week as the chicks hatched.”

Kimberly Laws at Greenfield said in an interview on the day chicks were hatching that as a transplant to the South she had never, as a child, considered where the milk, eggs and cheese from the store had originated. She is among the teachers who are hoping for another turn in 2022 at helping students consider where their food comes from.

“Most of the kids have never seen anything like this before,” she acknowledged. “They have shared it with their parents, with other students, with the teachers. Other teachers are coming to observe and see what’s happening. I hope the project continues each year.”

Brittany Morton at Gleason agrees. “I was one who was reluctant to take on the project in the beginning,” she said. “Now I’m ready to do it again!”

According to Linda Fowler, who is both the Weakley County Farm Bureau Women’s Chair and an educational assistant at Martin Primary where she has witnessed the group’s investment unfold, that could be a possibility.

“It has been a fun week and I have enjoyed watching the excitement in our teachers and students. The teachers have really embraced the project and have even been coming back at night to check on their baby chick’s progress,” she observed of the countdown to hatch day. “I would love for our Weakley County Farm Bureau Women’s group to make Chick Hatching a tradition and offer this opportunity again next spring.”

Brundige praises the administrators, librarians, teachers, and students who have embraced the project.

“We are fortunate to have great community support that enables the Farm Bureau to provide this type of experiential learning to our county students. While this was primarily a 2nd grade project, many other associated adults and students have enjoyed the anticipation and shared the excitement of hearing and seeing the chicks during and after hatching. Learning is a lifelong process and our hope is that this project has provided a learning experience for everyone involved,” she concluded.

Second grade teachers from across the county are: Danielle VanCleave in Sharon; Robin Higdon, Kristy Jolley, Jennifer McClain, Sherry Hatchel, Carla Hutcherson at Dresden; Jess Hames and Brittany Morton at Gleason; Beth Ann Sawyers and Kimberly Laws at Greenfield; Nicki Moore, Kim Castleman, Rachel Cooper, Alison Whaley-Crotts, Angela Sams, and Zann Wortham at Martin Primary.

Students selected names for the eggs which were delivered by Terri Brundige of Farm Bureau Women and local farmers. They labeled the eggs and then tracked their progress.

The incubators and other items for the 21-experience were provided by a grant from Farm Bureau’s Tennessee Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom.

Jennifer McClain
Jennifer McClain at Dresden Elementary shows the eggs and her classroom’s incubator.

students at brooding box
Students from Robin Higdon’s class observe life after hatching.

student teacher and student
Student teacher Cassy Griffey with student Emma Woodard check their class incubator.

Blair Chandler
Blair Chandler’s reaction in Gleason sums up the response from second graders across the county.

Gleason class
Gleason’s Brittany Morton and her students have enjoyed chronicling the experience in their journals.

Brittany Morton
Brittany Morton at Gleason School shows off one of their chicks.

student and teacher
Cameron Morton and Jessica Hames at Gleason check on their eggs.

Jessica Hames’ students reveal the journals that were provided to each second grade class.

Greenfield studetns
Greenfield’s Blakely Pentecost, Andi Porter, Jase Nichols, Sawyer Paschall, Ainsley Cooper with teacher Beth Ann Sawyers check progress in the incubator.

Greenfield students
Lily King, Ella McMullen and Neveah Ridenour at Greenfield School see how their chicks are doing in the brooding box.

Kimberly Laws
Greenfield’s Kimberly Laws notes birth times for each of the chicks.

Journal entries included writing, measuring, calculating, and art.

Martin Primary
Martin Primary students in Alison Whaley-Crotts’ class show off their journals.

Angela Sams at MPS and a student examine one of the chicks that hatched and was enjoying food and water in the brooding box.

Chick in hands of MPS’ Kim Castleman

Nicki Moore at Martin Primary and her students show off the journals that were customized for each school.

School Resource Officer Cody Stewart enjoyed a moment with a chick from the MPS classroom of Kim Castleman.

MPS teacher Zann Wortham and student teacher Raven Brown check on the egg-hatching status in their classroom incubator.

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