Wednesday, March 23, 2011

From Egg To Chick (Videos!)

About 22 days ago I began the hatching process with my kindergartners.  I didn't know a thing about hatching chicks, but I did know that if it worked it would be an experience that my students would remember forever.  I borrowed the incubator and egg turner from the Clemson Extension program.  They also provided the eggs!  The woman in charge brought me 14 fertilized eggs and kept on saying things like "You have to keep water in the pan for humidity.  I know you probably already know this."  The truth is...I knew NOTHING.  I  had no idea that eggs needed to be turned or that the eggs needed high humidity.  The most memorable thing she told me was that I would have to "dispose of the chickens" (don't worry, I'm giving them to a farmer).   I learned a lot really fast and just hoped that everything would turn out well. 

My students kept a journal where they wrote about the development inside the eggs every five days.  We looked at pictures of developing eggs and talked about what new body parts had developed.  My FABULOUS father made me a brooder box complete with a heat lamp, a clear front, and chicken decor on the exterior.  As the days went on my students (and the whole school) got very excited.  I became really nervous that my chicks would not hatch.  My classroom had become a hot topic in the building and I did not want to fail.  After candling some of my eggs I could see that several were developing, but there were a few that had not.  I did not look at all the eggs or discard the duds, so I really had no idea what to expect on hatching day. 

By day 20 I began to panic.  Eggs usually hatch in 21 days.  I was not sure if the chicks would start pecking by day 20 but I really wanted to see some signs of hatching.  I had convinced myself that my chicks were not going to hatch.  That night I went out and bought supplies for a hatching day party (just in case my instincts were wrong).  I bought chick/egg garland, peeps, and chick lollipops.

On day 21 I nervously walked down the hallway to my classroom.  I unlocked my door, put my purse down, and then...I heard it.  I heard noise coming from the incubator.  I peeked inside and there was a hatched chick!  I screamed a loud scream and ran down the hallway.  I had to find SOMEONE, ANYONE to tell the good news to.  It was only 6:30, so there weren't a whole lot of people at work yet!  After delivering the good news, I made a Happy Hatch Day poster, and put it on my door.  I was a very proud chick mama.  When my students got to school they were beyond excited.  The rest of the school was also excited!  I think I had half of my school walk through my classroom that day.  By the end of the day I had two hatched chicks and two eggs that had begun to crack!

Day 22 was very exciting.  I knew some more chicks had probably hatched.  I was thinking I would have a total of three to five chicks all together.  You can't even imagine how surprised I was when I saw FIVE chicks in my incubator that morning!  That brought my total to SEVEN!  I was told that a 50% hatch rate was really impressive and I had gotten there.  My students were eager to look at the chicks and they asked to hold them several times.  I was still pretty nervous about those babies, so I told them no.  I think I will let them hold them tomorrow if they still want to.  The reason I say that is because in order to get my students to stop asking to hold the chicks, I had to tell them that there was poop on the chick's feet and therefore, they shouldn't hold them.  They stopped asking pretty quick, but proceeded to tell EVERYONE that there was poop on the chick's feet.  We had several more visitors.

There was one egg that had been struggling to escape all day long.  I watched it for a good two hours, but it made very slow progress.  I am really looking forward to seeing if he made it!  I will be pretty sad if he doesn't!

I believe that kindergartners need meaningful, first hand experiences.  That is what I am trying hard to give them.  If they only remember one thing about kindergarten, I hope this experience is it!  I know that I will remember it for a lifetime!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day

St. Patrick's day was very exciting in our classroom!  It all started about a week before the holiday.  My students received a letter from a leprechaun!  Of course my students had NO idea what a leprechaun was, so sadly, I had to explain it to them.  They were so excited about that pesky leprechaun and they blamed him for EVERYTHING!  If a light bulb blew, they blamed him.  If the computers didn't work they blamed him.  If someone got hurt on the playground, they blamed him.  The ultimate goal was got get some leprechaun gold, but that tricky leprechaun left us leprechaun POOP instead!  My students were unbelievably excited about eating leprechaun poop, but they kept their eye on the prize.  After a few exchanges between the students and our leprechaun (Seamus) he actually started writing individual notes and left kids leprechaun kisses!  My students were thrilled that the leprechaun had noticed their good behavior.  He encouraged them to stay on green because clearly that is his favorite color!  Finally the big day came, it was St. Patrick's day!  I painted shamrocks on the kid's faces and we anxiously awaited for the arrival of Seamus.  The first thing he did was turn our toilet water green, and then he wished us a happy St. Patrick's day in our morning calendar.  That was very exciting!  After reading the message it was time for computer lab.  The students went off for a half an hour and when they got back our classroom was trashed and there was leprechaun confetti all over the floor!  My students could not believe their eyes.  They insisted that we make a clip for Seamus and put him directly on red!  Red is the worse color on our behavior chart.  After cleaning up our room the students did some work (yes, we do work in there) and then went on to art class and lunch.  When we got back from lunch we had the surprise of our lives!  There were pots of gold AND kisses for every student.  You would have thought those children had won the lottery.  The were cheering and shouting and wondering around in disbelief.  Finally one of them realized that the sneaky leprechaun had moved his clip to green and moved EVERYONE else to RED!  It only took about a split second for them to switch themselves back to green!  They were so loud and excited that several people stopped in my room to see what was going on!  I completely lost control of my classroom for about five minutes.

I truly think that my students are the best ever!  I get so much out of teaching them.  I hope they get as much from me!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Sniffles and Sneezes

My students are quickly disappearing!  I can only assume that there is a nasty virus going around my classroom.  I had several students out last week and by Friday I was down to nine students by the end of the day!  Today I only had eleven students!  My day was FABULOUS!  We were missing a few key players and that made our day very calm.  I think I had a smile on my face all day long.  I was in such a good mood that I gave my students M&M's at the end of the day because every single one of them was on green!

Aside from sniffles and sneezes my teaching experience is going very well.  We had a lot of fun with our fish (but we are down to one goldfish and a handful of baby guppies).  Today I lost another fish.  The problem is that I don't have a net and I was having a hard time getting the fish out of the tank with my cup.  As luck would have it, there was a technician in my room hooking up some equipment.  That crazy man was going to stick his bare hand in the tank and take out the fish!  EW!  Thankfully I got the fish out before he had to do that.  On a happier note, we have chicken eggs!  It takes 21 days for chicks to hatch and we are on day 6!  I am SO excited and my students are unbelievably excited.  I just hope my chicks do better than my fish!  My amazing father has made me a brooding box so that my chicks will have a comfortable place to live after they escape from their shells.  I am so lucky to have such a supportive family!

Wait!  More good news!  Yesterday I signed up for a Donors Choose account.  Donors Choose is an organization that gets funding for teacher requested supplies through donations.  I created a project for an MP3 listening center and it is already almost fully funded!  I am so greatful to the family and friends that donated to this project.  This will give my students another opportunity to interact with books.  They are learning how to read, and I just know that this will have a huge impact on them.  My next project is for audio books to use at the center.  If you are interested in supporting my project please check out this link:

I really and truly love my job.  I feel so lucky to have such a rewarding career.  Sometimes I wonder who benefits more, the students, or me?