|Our first hens at 8 wks|
I'm also posting some photos (albeit grainy because I only used my camera phone) and videos we managed to snag while doing our Nature Study. Feel free to use them to discuss with your kids! You can also visit my new blog, The Egg Basket where I will soon have many more posts, photos, videos, and ideas for chickens and their owners!
If you are new to nature study, whether a homeschooler or school mom who wants to spend some time this summer studying and appreciating nature with your children, check out the Outdoor Hour Challenge's from Barb here.
|Katie knows all smart chicks do nature study!|
I read, "The Handbook of Nature Study" by Anna Botsford Comstock pgs. 47-50. If you don't have a copy of this book you can find it here online for free. As you can see from my photo with Katie (above) mine is nice and worn with TONS of highlighting, garden soil, dew, and bookmarks. This is one of those books I have never regretted purchasing. I use it over and over and over. We use it with each nature study and sometimes just because we find something outdoors or someone (dear hubby or kiddos) brings something home we need to know more about! :)
|Our 2nd flock at 4-5 wks|
|Our 1st "flock" at 8 wks|
|Curious hens peeking at C's sketch!|
|The girls at 16 wks|
* Sidenote* If you're ever looking for more chicks or chickens, I whole heartedly recommend this breeder, she is "Like No Udder!" Ha ha, sorry, that's her slogan but it's so cute. She honestly is amazing, great with my kids at teaching them about each and every chicken, good husbandry, made herself available on a holiday to help us with sick chickens, and she specializes in rare, exotic, and heritage breeds. I mention this during a nature study because she IS the reason we added our first pairs I'm going to mention and talked to the children about conservation and their pairs that are endangered.
Since we are not housing the two flocks together yet, the kids went inside to grab the brooder (Rubbermaid tub style) and bring the 4-5 week old chicks outdoors to enjoy some of the amazing weather and make it easier to interact with both sets of chicks and sketch them all at the same time.
Of course, the kids had to make over each of thier chicks for a few moments before we got down to sketching. :) They each have 3 chicks now and each child has different breeds than the others so they have been quite focused on learning more about their specific breeds. One of their new favorite websites is My Pet Chicken. If you're doing a Chicken Nature Study as well, it's a great site with tons of information and photographs. My 3 kids LOVE to browse this one.
There's a great page on this site all about Chicken breeds and we printed off pages for each of my children with basic information about their particular breed. Since the HNS is mostly about very young chicks and I wanted the kids to observe and learn about all of thier chickens, I thought this basic information would help us with our nature study. Even if you do not have chickens and don't plan on it, it's a great way to give them some basic information about the various breeds.
As the kids began sketching thier chicks, I began going through the questions for observation in
Lesson 8 of the HNS.
1.We talked about the egg tooth and what it was for. We had reviewed this when we hatched some eggs years ago. Obviously, our 16 week old hens no longer have their egg tooth. I wasn't certain about the 4 & 5 week old chicks so we picked each of them up to look for it. :) Great observations! Unfortunately, no egg tooths on these babies either. We did a review discussion as a reminder of what the egg tooth is for.
2. We looked at and felt the difference of the down on our baby chicks compared to the feathers our 4 month olds have acquired. All of the 4-5 week olds have feathers as well as the down so there was great comparison there. We talked about the difference in the babies also, how A's La Fleche chicks have most all of their feathers alrady while C's Cochin Frizzle and Silkie have hardly any. In the middle were B's Salmon Favorolles who had a nice amount of new feathers and baby chick down. It was also easy to see how A's La Fleche are able to fly so well and the others are not. After looking at the older girls' feathers it was even more evident.
3. I loved the discussion on distinguishing the difference between ground birds and perching birds (pg. 47-48 HNS)! We pulled up from our experience and knowledge from past nature studies and bird watching (especially robins) to compare the two. I honestly had not thought of the differences myself before so it was a fun "discovery" for us.
4. Since we do not have laying hens yet we didn't have the opportunity to observe the chicks with their mothers, however, by merely paying close attention to the chicks own habits, we were able to deduce that baby chickens feed themself from the beginning, different from the robin chicks. We've also consistently observed Abbey (our flock "leader), B's Buff Orpington play the brave chick when we present them with new produce to try. She rushes over and pecks at the new treat before any of the others will dare. It's normally followed by A's Rhode Island Red, Katniss, my Barred Plymouth Rock, Flossie, and lastly by C's sweet Barnevelder, who seems to always miss out on much of the treat sadly. She's a quiet, docile girl and the others are fully aware of this and tend to take advantage.
grit because we had to discuss its importance and they went with me to the feed store to purchase it. They also told me during our nature study time yesterday they had observed the different chickens eating rocks and gravel since they've been old enough to live outside and free range a bit. We had not discussed the term gizzard :) and they found it to be a funny name. I don't know why but it is a bit funny sounding!
|Selana, C's Silkie|
|C's Cochin Frizzle, Sarah|
|A's La Fleche hen & roo and C's silkie peeking|
9. -13. These lesson questions were all concerning the hen's noises and conversations. This was another fun discussion. My children became very animated and involved in telling me all about the indiviual hen's personalities and "voices."
|Abby, B's Buff Orpington|
Although each hen has similar noises as Ms. Comstock states, they all seem to have their own "voices" as well. Abbey and Katniss can be louder (especially for hens!) but we're not surprised as they are the agressors of the bunch.
Those of you who are familiar with chickens might not be surprised by Katniss since she is a Rhode Island Red, however, Abbey is a Buff Orpington! Many of our friends who have chickens and other "chicken people" at the local farm animal swap/sale are surprised by this since Orpingtons are known to be docile.
I think our Abbey is just a bit spunky like her human mama, my B! :) We often tease each other that the hens behave like their owners. While Abbey can be vocal and somtimes pushy with the other hens she seems to be completely enamoured with my daughter, B. B can go out and pick her up and just walk around talking and going about her outside business with Abbey under her arm. It cracks us up to watch the "bullyish" Abbey be such a docile pet chicken when she's with B. We just laugh and tell B she's a natural chicken mama and Abbey recognizes she is hers even though we all take part in their care!
|Katniss, A's Rhode Island Red|
|Flossie, my barred plymouth rock|
Stella, C's Barnevelder is a complete sweetie, her sounds are so soft and sweet it makes us all want to scoop her up and shower her with so much love!
|Stella, C's Barnevelder|
|Romeo, B's Salmon Favorolle Roo|
Here are two of the books about starting with chickens I mentioned in the beginning, don't laugh, they may be simple but if you're just starting out , I found them to be solid albeit basic information specifically related to chickens.
If you are also interested in sustainability and backyard homesteading, here's another book I recommend and found quite useful with good information.
Finally, here are the nature study sketches and notebook pages my kids created from our nature study time. I hope you enjoy them and have an opportunity to soon discover the wonderful world of chickens with your family!
To learn more about our chicken adventures and information on sustainable living and homemaking in general, please visit my other blog at My Imperfectly Perfect Life!
C's Nature Study Page about his chicks, Stella, Sarah, and Selana:
B's Nature Sketch & Journal about Abbey, Romeo, & Juliet
Leave us comments! Do you have chickens? What breeds? What are some treats they like? Did you do a nature study?
Tiff, the kids, the pups, the cats, Digger (the turtle), & the chicks! <3
|Juliet, B's Salmon Favorolle Hen|