Incubating and hatching eggs have more benefits than a useful chicken as an end result. This is the common reason people hatch eggs, but people are, more and more, exploring the educational opportunities that come from incubating and hatching eggs. Many teachers are bringing incubators into the classroom to give the children they teach an excellent hands-on educational opportunity. Taking care of an egg all the way through the hatching and early life of the chick is a wonderful way to learn important life skills and natural science. Of course, it is also very fun!
A few things should be considered before you attempt this. Obviously, you should check with the school administration to make sure you aren’t breaking any rules. You also want to be sure you have home for the chicks to go to after they are raised. Send notes home with the students asking if any of them keep chickens or talk to local farmers to see if anyone is willing to adopt the chicks. Most likely, not all the eggs will survive, but make accommodations for all of them, just in case. It is better to have too many places for them to go than not enough.
Think carefully about what type of chicks you want to attempt to hatch. Chickens are probably easiest, and so they are probably the best choice. Chance of success is one of the most important factors to look at, you want to have as many survive as possible, especially because children may take the loss of eggs or chicks especially hard. Also, the children will likely be a little rougher on the eggs and less sanitary than adults, and so chance of survival is diminished. To improve chance of success, make sure the students wash their hands before and after handling eggs, chicks, or any of their equipment.
Another major factor is what the chicks will require after they hatch. You probably want chicks that are easier to care for and require less attention, as you probably don’t want to take them home every night, and you don’t want to have to spend too muc extra money on food and equipment.
Before the eggs ever arrive, prepare the incubator and make sure it is set. Also prepare the brooder well before the eggs hatch. Put it in a place where it will not be a distraction to students, but will be easily accessible during break times. You probably want to make sure there is enough space around it for a sizable crowd to gather. Have the students help you prepare these areas.
Be sure to involve the students as much as possible, after all, this is a project designed to benefit them! Inform them about everything that is happening with the eggs, and let them assist in their care. Let them help you as much as possible. It may also be fun to have them name the chicks.
Holding Chicks Carefully Will Help Them Survive
Make sure all your students understand the care and caution required to successfully hatch eggs. Help them learn that dirty hands or being too rough can hurt or kill the egg. However, don’t be overly upset if they are not as careful as you hope, they are just kids and probably don’t mean to be careless, they just don’t understand how delicate an egg or chick is. Remember that a lot of damage occurs invisibly and an egg can be killed or damaged with no damage to the shell, so be wary of more than just dropped or crushed eggs.
Lastly, make sure this is a fun and involved experience for the children. This is the most important thing to do, and the goal of the project. Give them the hands-on opportunity to learn through interaction and observation. You probably want to learn about biology (especially that of the chicken, or whatever species you choose.) as you care for the eggs. And remember, hatching chicks is fun and educational. Be enthusiastic, and the students will share your enthusiasm and be able to have a wonderful experience.