Hatching Chicks in the Classroom

 
Hatching chicks in the classroom is probably my favorite activity every year! Not only is it a wonderful hands-on life science lesson, but hatching chicks in the classroom also creates the perfect stage for you to teach concepts across the curriculum because your students are so engaged!

 

You can use this engagement for teaching content standards in science, math, reading, writing, and art.

I am here to share my hatching secrets with you – and hopefully encourage you on your hatching and teaching adventures!

Getting Ready to Hatch Chicks – Materials and Preparation

1.  Find Fertile Eggs

The first thing I like to do is find my fertile eggs.  Some fertile egg sources:

  • A friend who has chickens (hens & roosters so the eggs are fertile)
  • Local feed store
  • Nearby university
  • Murray McMurray Hatchery – before I found a friend who raised chickens, I ordered from them.  They were expensive but reliable.
Eggs in nest for hatching chicks in the classroom

2.  Find Someone to Adopt the Chicks

You are also going to need to find someone to ‘adopt' the chicks – they are not pets and will need to have a home with someone with a chicken coop for them to live in.

3.  Incubator

An incubator can make the difference between lots of cute chicks or none.  I've had a long search for the perfect incubator and I am delighted to tell you – I have found the ideal incubator for hatching chicks in the classroom!  Here is a table that may help you find the ideal incubator for your classroom.

Incubators for hatching chicks in the classroom
The Brinsea Mini is by far the best incubator I have found!  It has digital controls for temperature, humidity and turns the eggs. It even stops turning two days before hatching – it definitely removed many of the little stress factors that I found in my earlier hatching.
 
I purchased the Brines Mini incubator from Amazon.com.
 
Every incubator is different, so read the directions carefully
…before,
…during,
…and after
you set the eggs.

4.  Checklist

I like to have a checklist, so I don't forget anything.  I have included this checklist and other resources for you in a free packet.  I suggest using this checklist to ensure that you don't forget anything. 

checklist for hatching chicks in the classroom

I have learned the hard way and found that I didn't have something I needed – like chick food and bedding on hatch day.

You will find this checklist in the free ‘Hatching Chicks in Your Classroom Kit' download (below).

You can find most of these things at a local feed store.  However, if you do not have one nearby – there is always Amazon, and you can find some links below.

5.  Setting the Eggs

I recommend setting your eggs on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday.  So if your chicks decide to come early- they aren't hatching on a Sunday.  And if they are late –  they are not hatching on Saturday.

Read your incubator manual for details to set your eggs.

Once you have the eggs and the incubator, you have 21 days to get ready for those cute little chicks!  Now is the perfect time to lead your class through some motivating science and literacy activities.

Classroom Activities for Hatching Chicks

The following activities are included in my Life Cycle of a Chicken unit.

1.  Egg Lab

The Egg Lab makes a great launch to the Life Cycle of a Chicken unit of study!
 
Most kids have seen the inside of an egg a jillion times – so I am continually amazed at how focused and engaged they are when we do this lab!  
 
It's almost like they have never seen an egg before, and in a way, they never have ‘seen' it as the beginning of life for a chick.  They love exploring the outside and inside!
 
They love learning the names for all those parts and what they do for the growing chick.
egg lab for hatching chicks in the classroom
egg lab in hatching chicks in the classroom

Students are exploring the anatomy of an egg with just an egg, a paper plate, and a tooth pic.

As we explore the inside of the egg, students fill in their lab sheets as we discuss the function of each part.
 
Egg Vocabulary:  shell, pores, membranes, air pocket, yolk, embryo, chalaza, and albumen.

2.  When Will Our Chicks Hatch?

Your students will love keeping track of how many days until Hatch Day on this calendar!  In my Life Cycle of Chicken Unit, there are two choices, one with just an egg and one showing the embryonic development of the chick inside.
calendar for hatching chicks in the classroom
I keep a large one on our science focus wall and fill in an egg each day.  
 
Students could also do this in their copy in the ‘All About Chickens' study guide. 
embryonic development in hatching chicks in the classroom

3.  Watching and Waiting 

The ‘Chick Life Cycle' by Learning Resources is a fun hands-on resource.   The students can see what their chicks look like each day.  In the picture below, the students put the days 17, 18, and 19 in front of the incubator – so they could see what the chicks were looking like over the weekend!

eggs in incubator while hatching chicks in the classroom

4.  Seeing Inside 

I highly recommend showing this video to your class!  It is a beautiful animation of the embryonic development of a chick inside the egg – and then it hatches!

5.  Chicken Life Cycle Books 

Here are my very favorite nonfiction books I read to and with students during the 21-day wait.

Click here to read how to use Gail Gibbons' Chicks & Chickens with your students and download the free book companion.

5.  Cross-Curricular Activities

This waiting time is perfect for introducing other cross-curricular activities.  The kids are motivated to research, read, discuss, and write about all things chicks!  I provide lots of opportunities for as many curriculum areas as possible.  As you do this with your students, I am sure you will think of many ways to incorporate your content standards!

Here is a peek at a few of the resources I created to use during this time:

Life cycle of chicken student booklets

CHICKEN LIFE CYCLE BOOKLETS

Students love to make shape books. Here is a circle life cycle of chicken (included in the free download, egg shape book, and a flipbook.  All designed to provide delightful practice in learning about chickens.

CHICKEN LIFE CYCLE WRITING & CRAFT

Use your kids' love of chicks to motivate them to write expository writing paragraphs. The unit also includes this cute little chick craft.

informative writing while hatching chicks in the classroom
task cards to use while hatching chicks in the classroom

CHICKEN LIFE CYCLE TASK CARDS

Task cards have so many possibilities! 

You can use them as a whole class activity: Scoot, Quiz, Quiz Trade, or Scavenger Hunt. Or, use them as individual center activities.

CHICKEN LIFE CYCLE SCRAMBLED SENTENCES

This fun activity is another way to reinforce some facts about chickens as the students unscramble factual sentences.  They then write and illustrate them on their recording sheets.

scrambled sentences for hatching chicks in the classroom

CHICKEN LIFE CYCLE STUDENT STUDY GUIDE

Student study guide for hatching chicks in the classroom

The perfect way to prevent papers from getting scattered and lost.  It includes Graphic Organizers, Vocabulary, Word Searches, Crossword Puzzles, Word Unscrambles, and more.

CHICKEN LIFE CYCLE ANCHOR POSTERS

These posters make a beautiful bulletin board for you and your students to refer to throughout the unit. 

Anchor posters for bulletin boards to use for hatching chicks in the classroom
Life Cycle of Chicken bulletin boards to use for hatching chicks in the classroom

CHICKEN LIFE CYCLE BULLETIN BOARD SET

Here is another bulletin board to display the life cycle of a chicken.

Hatch Day – Oh Happy Day!

Waiting for hatch day is like waiting for Christmas!  I love to come in early on hatch day, open the classroom door, listen for peeps, and scurry over to the incubator.

Often an ‘early bird' hatched in the night.  I search for pips – the first little cracks that the chicks make.  If you listen really closely, sometimes you can hear the chicks peeping – even before they have pipped!

Life Cycle of ChickeHappy chicks on hatching chicks in the classroom
When the students arrive in the classroom, set up a ‘Chick Watch' schedule.  I let groups of students gather around the incubator to watch for pips, listen for peeps, and even make quiet little peeps for the eggs to encourage the unhatched chicks to get busy.  If a chick starts to hatch, the ‘Chick Watch' team can then signal you so that you can let the class watch the amazing event!
 

The chicks are quite wet and weak when they first hatch (more like flop) out of the egg.  They nap a bit, dry off, fluff up, and begin pecking at the other eggs within an hour or so.  Do not be in a rush to take the chicks out of the incubator, their presence will encourage the unhatched chicks to hatch.  They should be taken out and put under the brooder within 24 hours of hatching.  Usually, all the chicks that are going to hatch have hatched, and you can put the whole clutch in your brooder.

Here is a lovely video of a chick hatching with its mamma hen!

I especially love this one because it shows how the mother hen cares for and protects her chicks.  You are going to be the ‘mama hen' taking care of your little brood.

Chick Care & Handling

1. Check Your Supplies

You are going to want to have your ‘Chicken Coop' all set up and ready on hatch day.
 
(I have listed these items on a checklist that is in the ‘Hatching Chicks in Your Classroom Kit' free download.)
 
I have included some affiliate links to Amazon below – a quick and easy way to gather your supplies.
chicks in coop while Life Cycle of Chicken bulletin boards to use for hatching chicks in the classroom

2. Holding the Chicks

As soon as those chicks start hatching, your kids are going to start asking when they can hold them.  Before the kids handle the chicks it is important for them to understand what chicks: Are, Have, and Need. 

Graphic organizer to use while Life Cycle of Chicken bulletin boards to use for hatching chicks in the classroom

Gather your students together for a discussion about chicks.  You can use a graphic organizer like this to record your class's discussion on the care of chicks.

I stress that chicks are fragile, so we can't grab or squeeze them.  They may poop, so if they are holding a chick and it does, they do not throw it off.

For this fun Chick Handling, You will need:
 
  • Cloth (oilcloth is the best)
  • Wipes
  • Hand sanitizer

 

You are now ready for the chicks!

  • Put an oilcloth on the floor.
  • Have kids sit around in a circle.  I then put a dish with some food in the center and asked the kids to put their hands down and wait for the chicks to come to them (sometimes they do).
  • I will then go around and place a chick in the hands of kids that are being quiet and peaceful.  After about a minute, we rotate the chicks so that all who want to hold one can.
  • The chicks should not be out from their ‘coop' for very long, or they will get cold.
Handling the chicks while Life Cycle of Chicken bulletin boards to use for hatching chicks in the classroom
Kids love Life Cycle of Chicken bulletin boards to use for hatching chicks in the classroom

You can also let small groups visit the chicks in their chicken coop.  This makes a great reward for students that are on-task during the day!

3. How long do you keep the chicks in the classroom?

That depends on how high your coop is and how much patience you have.  They will start trying to ‘fly the coop' after about 4-5 days.  I try to have my chicks hatch on Tuesday or Wednesday and send them to their new home on Friday.  I had a partner teacher who used to keep them for over a week.

Prepare your students from the beginning for this day – remind them that chickens are not pets and they need a chicken coop to live in with other chickens.

On the last day with the chicks, let the kids handle them one last time.  Snap some pictures of them with the chicks and you can use the photos for writing prompts in the days to come.

4. Cleaning Up

Read your incubator's instructions for putting it away for next year.  

Jot down notes on what worked well and what you want to do differently next year.  Next year, you will be so glad that you took the time to do this!

Chick Resources & Links

YouTube Videos:

Chicken Embryo Development YouTube
Our Chickens Hatching!
Baby Chick Hatching

Websites:

All About Chickens – Kiddy House
Chickenscope
How a Hen Makes an Egg

Affiliate Resource Links:

Just click on each picture to go to Amazon to purchase.

Your students will be fascinated to see what is happening inside the eggs each day with these models.

This is the best incubator I have ever used!

Large plastic containers make great ‘chicken coops'.  Easy to clean.

This little brooder made it so much easier to keep our chicks warm!

For years I just used bowls – but you can imagine what all those little chicks did in those bowls.  😉

Be sure to have some food on hand, before the chicks hatch.

I tried using many different kinds of bedding.  This bedding is my favorite for two reasons:

  1. Easy to ‘spot' clean
  2. Reduces the smell

Materials:

Murray McMurray Hatchery

If you have never hatched chicks in your classroom before, I hope you will give it a try!  Your students will LOVE every minute of it!  And it will make all the work and planning you do so worth it as you watch your students filled with wonder.
 
 You will also see them return year after year and tell you that hatching chicks in your classroom was their favorite school activity!  We are never too old to be amazed and smitten with wonder at the sight of a newly-hatched chick!
 

Please feel free to contact me with any chick questions, suggestions, or stories!

Take a closer look at  Chicken Life Cycle Unit – Science & Literacy:

What are Teachers Saying?

It warms my heart to hear how teachers enjoy this unit with their students as they hatch chicks in their classrooms!

'This was the first time for me to do the incubator program and I found the resources lacking from the farm that provided the eggs and incubator. I love this resource and so did my students! Thank you for such a well-developed unit!'

Carrie

'This set included so many great resources to use with our chick unit. The egg calendar was one of my student's favorite things to do each day. It really built excitement. They also really enjoyed learning about the parts of the egg and making the life cycle egg book! Great resource!'

Danielle

'I love this so much! Our class won a grant to hatch chickens. When I wrote my grant, I found this resource and based all of my things off this grant. This made a great notebook for my students to use throughout the process.'

Heather

Grab your FREE Hatching Chicks in the Classroom Kit

Just fill in the form below to get your copy of the Hatching Chicks Kit with: Checklist, Egg Calendar, Chicken Life Cycle Circle Book, and Chicken Life Cycle mini Posters.

Pin for Later

Hatching chicks in the classroom: Tips and Resources. Hatching chicks in the classroom is probably my favorite activity every year! Not only is it a wonderful hands-on life science lesson, but hatching chicks in the classroom also creates the perfect stage for you to teach concepts across the curriculum because your students are so engaged! You can use this engagement for teaching content standards in science, math, reading, writing, and art.

Welcome

My name is Peggy Means. I am a child of God and a retired elementary teacher. I loved teaching and creating engaging resources for my students. Now, I love sharing my resources and ideas with busy teachers around the world.

Free Games

CLICK to get FREE Addition & Subtraction GAMES
CLICK to get FREE Multiplication & Division GAMES

Favorite Resources