Hatching Chicks in Room 6
Written by Caroline Arnold
Published by Charlesbridge in 2017
Grades PreK – 3
Who can resist the sweet yellow fuzziness of a tiny chick? Caroline Arnold’s photo essay lets readers share the experiences of a lucky Kindergarten class whose teacher has provided them with sixteen chicken eggs and an incubator. The primary text offers a narrative of the incubation and hatching processes, from the time the eggs arrive in the classroom through to the departure of the month old chicks. A secondary text provides readers with additional information about eggs, embryonic development, and chicken behavior. Engaging photographs vary in size and placement and depict Mrs. Best’s diverse class of children as they observe and care for the eggs and hatchlings. Key questions that young readers may have, including the oh so critical question: “When you eat an egg are you eating a baby chick?,” are addressed in helpful back matter (rest assured, the answer to the question is no). Also included are a glossary, online resources and suggestions for further reading. This versatile title is an excellent addition to studies of animals, life cycles, or agriculture, as well as an excellent mentor text for the genre of photo essay and stories of classroom life.
Teaching Ideas: Invitations for Your Classroom
Sequencing: Understanding Chick Development and Text Structure. Following a reading of Hatching Chicks in Room 6, revisit the book to create a visual timeline of the incubation and hatching process. Ask your students to identify key moments in the process and to illustrate these moments. Next, create a large timeline to display these images. Next, revisit the text again to do a close reading of the chronological text structure used by Arnold in the primary text. Identify words that signal sequence, such as: on, then, when, now and finally. Ask your students to add written captions to the images on the timeline that they have created.
Hatching Vocabulary. Reread Hatching Chicks in Room 6 and invite your students to identify vocabulary words that are new to them. Find visual support and additional resources (including the glossary in the back matter) to support students understanding of these terms. Offer students multiple opportunities to learn these vocabulary terms by having them use the words in sentences and create and illustrate reference charts to display in the classroom. As you engage in a study of chickens, students can use these reference charts to their writing about the topic.
Chickens Text Set. Work with your school or local public librarian to develop a text set of books about chickens. Include nonfiction and fictional books as well as multimedia resources (see the back matter of Hatching Chicks in Room 6 and the Further Explorations section below for suggested resources). Offer your students support for making notes about their learning from the nonfiction texts and consider dividing your students up into expert groups to explore chicken care, behavior, varieties, and development. Fictional texts about chickens can be used to explore folklore and cultural representations of chickens. Students can be invited to compare fictional chicken behavior with real world chicken behavior. Consider having students prepare multigenre projects/presentations to share their learning.
Duet Model Reading. If your time does not allow for a full text set exploration (see the teaching idea above) consider a duet model reading with A Chicken Followed Me Home by Robin Page (Beach Lane, 2015). Compare: the kinds of information that each text provides, the text structure employed by the author, the illustrations, the text features, and the back matter. How are the books similar? How are they different? How do the different choices made by the authors create different reading experiences?
Life Cycles. Hatching Chicks in Room 6 is a natural addition to a text set on life cycles, a topic commonly addressed in the primary grade curriculum. Pair a reading of this text with another 2017 photo essay published by Charlesbridge, Doug Weschler’s The Hidden Life of a Toad. Students can compare the life cycle of a chicken with that of a toad (make sure to record the questions this exploration inspires for further inquiry). Following this comparison, offer students additional texts that present animal life cycles, such as Nic Bishop’s Spiders, Alexandra Siy’s Mosquito Bite, Lisa Kahn Schnells’ High Tide for Horseshoe Crabs, Nicola Davies’s One Tiny Turtle, and Loree Griffin Burns’s Handle with Care: An Unusual Butterfly Journey. Invite your students to create visual representations of the life cycles of these different animals.
Eggs Text Set. Study the photographs of the eggs that Mrs. Best brings into the classroom. The text notes that “eggshells can be brown, green, blue or speckled.” If possible, invite a local chicken owner or farmer to bring in array of eggs for your students to examine and to handle. Students should document their observations in sketches and writing. Investigate further, using online resources, and expanding your study of eggs to include those of other birds and reptiles. Read children’s books such as An Egg is Quiet, Hatch!, Guess What is Growing Inside this Egg, and Egg: Nature’s Perfect Package (see the Further Explorations section for full bibliographical information). Extend this activity by collaborating with your art teacher to offer students a variety of media with which to represent their learning (for example, modeling, painting, collage, digital photography).
Baby Animals. Springtime means baby animals on the farm and in the wild. Include Hatching Chicks in Room 6 in a text set that invites students to explore the early development of different kinds of animals. Compare data on the development of animals such as incubation / gestation time, maternal caregiving practices, and the timeline of development to maturity. Steve Jenkins’s wonderful text The Animal Book may be a good starting point for you and your students. Collaborate with your school or local public library to assemble a collection of books that provide information on animal development for you and your students to explore.
Grades 2 – 3
Backyard Chickens. Invite your students to investigate what is involved in raising chickens. The Humane Society’s information on Adopting and Caring for Backyard Chickens is a good starting point. From there, contact local officials or review community documents to determine whether raising chickens is allowed in your community. Consider dividing your students up into working groups to learn more about: the costs of raising chickens; the proper containment of chickens; benefits and challenges of owning chickens; and the daily care needs of chickens. Groups can report out about their findings to inform the class a whole. If possible, invite in or skype visit with a guest speaker who raises chickens to further inform your inquiry.
Genre Study: Photo Essay. In a well crafted photo essay, an author’s written text is accompanied by engaging photographs that play an equal role in conveying the story or content of the books. Read Hatching Chicks in Room 6 along with other well crafted photo essays such as those featured in our blog: George Ancona’s Can We Help?: Kids Volunteering to Help Their Community and It’s Our Garden: From Seeds to Harvest in a School Garden, Loree Griffin Burns and Ellen Harasimowicz’s Handle with Care: An Unusual Butterfly Journey, April Pulley Sayre’s Rah, Rah Radishes! A Vegetable Chant, and Sy Montgomery and Nic Bishop’s Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World’s Strangest Parrot. Discuss the relationship between the photographs and the text on double page spreads, as well as aspects of the book’s layout and design, such as placement of the photographs, the use of white space, borders, and captions. Discuss, too, the inquiry processes used by authors and photographs to craft a photo essay. Photo essays often involve first hand research and documentation. Using the photo essays you have studied as mentor texts, invite your students to plan, research, document, and craft a photo essay featuring your school or community.
Where Do Our Eggs Come From? Engage your students in an exploration of egg sources in your community. Take pictures to share/or bring in a variety of eggs for purchase at the local grocery store. Examine the labeling on the packages – what do the terms “free range” and “organic” mean? How are eggs “graded”? What nutritional benefits are ascribed to different varieties of eggs? If you have a local source of fresh eggs, invite the chicken farmer to visit your classroom to discuss the process of raising chicken and selling eggs. Compare the different costs of eggs purchased from a store and those purchased from a chicken farmer or a CSA (community supported agriculture).
Aston, D.H. (2006). An egg is quiet. New York: Chronicle Books.
Bishop, N. (2007). Spiders. New York: Scholastic.
Davies, N. (2001). One tiny turtle. Ill. by J. Chapman. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press.
Emberly, R. (2009). Chicken Little. New York: Roaring Brook Press. (fiction)
Ganeri, A. (2006). From egg to chicken. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Gibbon, G. (2003). Chicks and chickens. New York: Holiday House.
Hepperman, C. (2012). City chickens. Boston: Houghton Mifflin / Harcourt.
Jenkins, S. & Page, R. (2015) Egg: Nature’s perfect package. Boston: Houghton Mifflin / Harcourt.
Jenkins, S. (2013). A Collection of the fastest, fiercest, toughest, cleverest, shyest – and most surprising animals on earth. Boston: Houghton Mifflin / Harcourt.
Munroe, R. (2011). Hatch! New York: Marshall Cavendish Books.
Page, R. (2015). A chicken followed me home: Questions and answers about a familiar fowl. New York: Beach Lane Books.
Paye, M. (2014). Mrs. chicken and the hungry crocodile. Ill. by J. Paschkis. New York: Henry Holt. (fiction)
Pinkney, J. (2006). Little red hen. New York: Dial. (fiction)
Posada, M. (2007). Guess what is growing inside this egg. Millbrook Press.
Siy, A. (2005). Mosquito bite. Ill. by D. Kunkel. Cambridge, MA: Charlesbridge.
Slansky, A.E. (2005). Where do chicks come from? / Let’s read and find out series. Ill. by P. Paparone. New York: Harper Collins.Weschler, D. (2017). The hidden life of a toad. Cambridge, MA: Charlesbridge.
Weschler, D. (2017). The hidden life of a toad. Cambridge, MA: Charlesbridge.
About Erika Thulin Dawes
Erika is a professor of language and literacy at Lesley University. A former classroom teacher, reading specialist, and literacy supervisor, she now teaches courses in children’s literature, early literacy, and literacy methods. Erika is the co-author of Learning to Write with Purpose, Teaching with Text Sets, and Teaching to Complexity.
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