Natural Learning and the Chicken Story
As the children and I were getting our new school year off to a great start last fall, we noticed that there was a pecking order in the chicken coup and the chickens were beating up and pecking a certain chicken that would no doubt be getting a funeral if we didn’t intervene and pull her from the group of meanie chickens.
I used the teaching moment and we took it to a whole new level when the hen ended up roosting at night next to the preschool and laying eggs in out Igloo dog house that we used every now and then as a bear cave. As the school year turned to winter there were a few children worried that our hen did not have a name. The older children who were beginning to write decided to write a few names down and have a vote. The children walked around with their clip boards and they were determined to get that chicken a name! One child decided that since her dog house that was turned into an egg laying house was an igloo then her name should be called Louise. The votes were counted and Louise it still is.
Spring came and Louise began to make friends with a certain red rooster. The children were happy that while she was much bigger than he was and since she was black and white…well they simply seemed to do just fine together. And that’s where the story really begins.
Around the 18th of October 2011 Louise was sitting on eggs one day and the next day and the next until one day we all walked into the barn and we could hear the baby chicks! They were not even cracked out of their shells yet and we could hear them. Of course we had to stand back because Louise didn’t like us too close. After all she did leave the igloo and moved to the barn so we grabbed the clue.
The day finally came when proud Louise had 8 beautiful chicks. They were black and white just like their mama hen! Oh we were so happy for her and every day we would go and count the beautiful babes. We count our rabbits as we give them carrots and move onto our proud mother hen of 8.
Oh but one day, there were only 7! The teachers felt bad and we could all tell that poor Louise was stressed out. The children decided that we needed to go to the barn and look all over because how could a baby chick just disappear. The teachers took flash lights with words of comfort in case we came across the worst. The teachers looked and looked and nothing. The children didn’t see anything either.
Just as we were all leaving there was one last check by C. That’s when we heard it! “I see it, the baby chick” exclaimed C! Wow C became our hero that day not only to all of us but to Louise too! When we put the chick back she hurried the baby under her wing as if she was saying “I will never let you go again.”
There is something about a natural learning environment that really speaks for itself. Children learn about counting, democracy, feeding and caring for animals, diversity and so much more. However, to a child who relies on adults to simply show them some serious fun and take great care of them so that they can recall a childhood with awesome memories, it’s just another great day at In a Child’s Path Farm School!