Friday, June 1, 2012

chickens at preschool


Meet Polly and Noodle aka Noo Noo.  Polly and Noo Noo may look like average chickens, but they are actually teachers in feathered disguise.

They teach our children how to be gentle and respectful of living things.  Attitudes of compassion and empathy that are important if we want our children to grow up to speak out against animal cruelty.



They teach our children how to nurture and care for other living things.


 They teach our children about the interconnectedness between plants, people, animals and the land.


They help children overcome fear or anxiety of animals.


They teach our children about hygiene practices such as the importance of hand washing.

Children have a natural affinity with, and curiosity for living creatures.  Providing meaningful ways for children to develop an ongoing relationship with animals in a preschool can be a powerful experience.

Polly and Noo Noo no longer lay eggs, but they definitely earn their keep in other more significant ways.




17 comments:

  1. I totally agree with you. I have 3 chickens (Henny Penny, Dolly and Dora), the children have raised them from day old chickens and they have been especially good for my special needs children. They seem to calm the children. The children also have the responsiblity of saving the scraps for the chickens and they also get to clean the cage.

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    1. I agree - they are great for calming children. They have to slow down, and be gentle and focus on another living thing - and the chooks are friendly and love being held.

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  2. Oh, I would really love to know how it works having chickens at the preschool. My son's preschool is thinking about it, and I'm trying to convince them, but how does it actually work? Who takes them home in the holidays, who puts them away at night etc? Would love to hear how your preschool has made it work. Thank you.

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    1. Vanessa, I can thoroughly recommend chickens at preschool. The very fact that they are out and about amongst the kids outside I think makes them excellent pets to learn about responsibility and animal welfare and developing a relationships with animals. Although it does take commitment on behalf of the staff. Our chickens live during the week in an a-frame coup that was donated from a preschool family, but originally came from rent-a-chook who have lots on offer. In the mornings they are let out and are free range during the day, until the kids 'put them to bed' at 3pm with their fresh food and water. On the weekends and holidays I take them home with me, as I have an a-frame coup at my place. If families are to take them home, they too would need suitable chook accommodation. I transfer them in a box we made from a plastic storage container, that we have drilled large holes in the lid - we line it with newspaper for the journey. Then I return them with me on Mondays.

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    2. I work at a pre-school/school with 4 chickens. On weekends families take it in turns to let ours out i the mornings, put them in at night and top-up their feed. There is a roster on a notice board and there has always been someone happy to do it. In school holidays usually a family will take them,one with a farm an hour north has taken them a few times, I've had them once with my own chooks and another teacher took them over summer. There always seems to be someone but I guess there needs to be someone, usually staff who will be the last resort. The chickens are a fabulous part of the school and give a lot of pleasure and learning - and ours lay eggs which cause great excitement!

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  3. My girls love playing with our chooks outside and they often feature in our pics! I did post about them being a toddler's best friend for many reasons...they really are wonderful creatures aren't they?

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    1. I hear you Jode - we have a new little girl at our preschool who has just turned 3 and she is besotted with the chickens - and they have helped her make the transition to preschool. She loves to look for them during the day, and give them a cuddle. Our 'girls' are friendly and curious and downright hilarious at times which makes them fun to have around.

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  4. We have 2 chickens at my centre too; Flora and Joey (named by ballot by the preschoolers). They have their little hutch which we herd them into as we pack up the yard for the end of the day. They get our food scraps and sometimes lay eggs (which is always a huge event). Holidays aren't so much of a problem when the centre is open 50 weeks of the year, there are feeders that mean they don't starve if noone's able to visit them for a day (though our director is usually in of a weekend regardless) and other than a little escape-artistry they're fabulous. A very worthwhile addition to the curriculum.

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    1. How big is your hutch Pixie? Did you make it or buy it? Ours is a little worse for wear at the moment and we are thinking of what to get next. I'd love one that was big enough to keep them in all weekend so that I'd just have to take them on the holidays.

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  5. We have 3 chickens at our kinder and my class is in charge of taking care of them and collecting and selling the eggs. It's connected to our school vegie garden and each day when we go and feed the girls and collect the eggs, the children have a great time wandering around the garden to see what lovely raw vegies they can munch on.

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    1. I love the idea of selling the eggs - especially when it is difficult to know from egg cartons exactly what conditions the chickens are kept in. Sadly, our girls no longer lay. We'd love to get some more chickens so the kids can have a similar experience to yours, but at the moment the coup is only really big enough for 2 or 3 chickens and we aren't sure how long our other two will live for. Given the food, love and attention they are given each day - probably for ever!

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  6. This is so sweet!!! These lessons are such valuable life experience!

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  7. That is lovely to see, the children are clearly so gentle with them. The best we managed at our nursery (children age 3-4) was giant snails! What age are these pre-schoolers?

    Thank you for sharing! :)

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    1. Ailsa, our kids are 3 - 5 years. At first, there was some chicken chasing going on but they very quickly learnt to be gentle and respectful and we all now co-exist beautifully. When a new child arrives, they learn how to interact with the chickens by watching the other kids so experience is passed along. I know some kids at preschool who would love giant snails! We have tried guinea pigs, but as they are caged all day the experience isn't as successful - and we had some escape issues as well which didn't bode well for the poor little things.

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  8. How do you manage cleaning up the chook poo in order to avoid illness. We have not allowed our educators to have chickens in the area where the children play to avoid this problem and we didn't think validators or assessors would agree with the idea.

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    1. Michelle - whereabouts are you located? In Australia? Because loads of early childhood settings have chickens here. We teach our kids about hygiene practices - washing hands after they handle the chooks or feed the chooks or come into contact with the chook house. They also alert us to any chicken droppings and we have a chicken clean up kit ready and waiting - gloves, a scraper, scrubbing brush and a bowl for soapy water. It is simple to clean up after them.

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    2. I'm in Townsville, I work in FDC so chickens are very common at our educators homes. I agree with allowing the children to interact with the chickens, just wasn't sure how ACECQA would see it.
      Do the children have to wear shoes all the time while outside?

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