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Spring chickens have sprung at Buffalo Ridge

This group of kindergarteners learned oodles about chickens and embryology in Kristin Duran’s (pictured far left) and  Breanna Duran’s (pictured far right) kindergarten enrichment class this spring.

Article and photos by Kathy Fallert

Buffalo Ridge Elementary (BRE) kindergarten enrichment teacher Kristin Duran also known as “Ms. D” had always wanted to share an embryology project with her students.  It comes as no surprise that she jumped at the chance when she saw BREA co-president Valerie Miller post on social media that she had chickens.  Ms. D contacted Ms. Miller and the two quickly sought permission from the school to get the project underway.
Two outdoor birds, Veronica and Betty, as well as their chicken coop were placed on the school property in April with hopes that one of them would sit and hatch fertilized eggs that were donated from a farm in Parker.  Miller commented, “I think with all the excitement of a new place, all the kids and other frequent visitors the hens lost their desire.  So we used an incubator inside to hatch the fertilized eggs.”

Meanwhile, the kindergarten enrichment kids took good care of the hens.  They would go out to the chicken coop every day to feed and water the chickens.  A special batch of food was whipped up each night by the school’s kitchen manager Kari Anstett that included the poultry pleasing blend of yogurt and salad with mixed vegetables as well as bread.  The students happily doled out the mixture to the hungry hens each day.

Inside Duran’s classroom the students got to watch the chicks’ progress while inside their eggs with the use of flashlights.  They could observe how much bigger the chicks were getting, and they also learned the difference between fertilized eggs and unfertilized or as they call them “breakfast” eggs.

After three weeks in the incubator, the chicks began to peck their way out of their shells.  Out of the original 10 fertilized eggs, six hatched into baby chickens.  The first to hatch was a small, yellow chick who was named Gloria by the BRE office staff after Gloria Gaynor, singer of “I will survive.”  Gloria or “Glo” had a very full day getting out of her shell.  Most chicks will peck a zipper all the way around the shell, but Glo did it the hard way through a small hole at one end.

Next came a bigger yellow chick who seems to rule the roost.  While they won’t know the sex of the birds for three months, it is expected that this character is a rooster.  The office named him Sid after the bully in the “Toy Story” movie due to his pushy and aggressive behavior.

Luke O. holds chick Gloria after she endured a long and intense hatching process inside the incubator.

The remaining chicks are Dora after Dora the Explorer since she seemed very curious and eager to inspect her surroundings from day one.  Joe was named after a cup of joe since this little chick is as black as coffee.  Marty the Martian also had a hard time getting out of her shell as if she landed from another planet.  And finally Truffles who is light brown just like milk chocolate.

Duran said of the experience, “Having Veronica and Betty made it an even more realistic and hands on experience for the kids.  Being able to hatch eggs into baby chicks in the classroom was awesome!  The students have learned so much and have even taught their parents about chickens!”

Hens Veronica (left) and Betty (right), courtesy of the Miller family, have been a welcome and quite popular addition to the school’s garden area.  

Duran is now known as the mom of the chicks, and Miller is known as grandma.  Miller said, “When these little cuties leave the school, they will move to my house to live a long, happy life roaming the property and helping me keep bugs and mice out of my garden.  They may even return to the BRE garden in the fall to hang out for a few months before the winter sets in.  A big thank you to the District and to Principal Veit for supporting this curriculum!”

Dora the chick (held by Ella S.) has enjoyed much exploring after being hatched last month.



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