elm creek baby chicksAn embryology study at Elm Creek Elementary had it all: curious student minds, meaningful science instruction, a partnership with a Minnesota sustainable family farm, and baby chick cuteness.

Elm Creek used District 279 Foundation grant funds to enhance an embryology unit for kindergartners and some students receiving special education services. In partnership with True Cost Farm, students observed and monitored the incubation of eggs through candling, and then had a first-hand look at the hatching process. For more than a week, students compared similarities and differences among the chicks and watched their growth and development. And, of course, they bestowed a unique name upon each baby bird.

According to Principal Beth Ness, the opportunity to hatch chicks is very special for students. Most children have never experienced hatching before, and many children have never been to a farm to see live farm animals. The embryology unit directly relates to the Animals 2 X 2 science kit, in which children compare structures and behaviors of similar animals. Within the study of embryology, children were able to enrich the experiences they have had comparing isopods, worms, and fish.

For Mona Svercl, a teacher at Elm Creek, the chicks became an integral part of her special education classroom.

“We watched and discussed the interactions and behaviors of the chicks, which led to discussions about kindness, responsibility and empathy,” Svercl noted. “When the chicks were sleeping, we were quiet. When they were chirping, we provided them with interaction and stimulation by talking to them. This, in turn, stimulated and expanded each student’s language development. We also watched the strength and independence of each chick grow, just like each of the children in our classroom.”

PHOTO: Jack McCann (center) of True Cost Farm partnered with Elm Creek Elementary to bring baby chicks to the school as a way to enhance an embryology unit for kindergartners.