Learning about Chickens
Food literacy for young children is all about understanding where our food comes from. Chickens are the most common birds in the world! They are raised by households and commercial farms around the world for their eggs and their meat.
What are chickens?
Baby chicks start their lives in eggs that mother chickens, called hens, produce every day or so. Father chickens are called roosters and they like to wake everyone up in the morning with their “cock-a-doodle-doo” cries. Hens have to sit on their eggs for 3 weeks to keep them warm—this is called brooding. Then the chicks hatch and the eggs open up. For about 8 weeks, chicks need extra care to stay warm and safe, but then they can start going outside to peck the ground and eat some of their favourite foods like insects and grasses.
Here are some activity ideas to learn about chickens and eggs:
• Go visit chickens! Some smaller commercial farms may allow tours or perhaps a household with a chicken flock in your community may allow visitors. If seeing live chickens is not an option, find colourful photos to show the chicken lifecycle to the children.
• Eat eggs or chicken. Eggs are an affordable source of protein and many other nutrients. They are fun to try in different formats like hard-boiled, scrambled, fried, deviled and in egg-based dishes like frittata, quiche, crepes and Egg Muffins. Always cook eggs until firm and internal temperature reaches 74 degrees Celsius. Childcare facilities with 8+ children should check with their Licensing Officer about what is needed to serve food.
• Play egg-on-a-spoon relay race. Consider using plastic white balls or even recycled paper balls to avoid wasting real eggs if they fall on the ground. Place an ‘egg’ ball on a spoon and have children race to the end of the course to hand it off to a team member.
• Arts & crafts. Use clean and dry white eggshells for all sorts of projects! If they’re cracked in half, paint them into tiny bowls. Or dye and glue smaller pieces into patterns. Make a farm mural for your centre and have children add their favourite animals and crops.
For more ideas and resources
Learn more about chickens here.