by Lisa Tome
Barbie Thomas is hatching chickens for the first time.
And she can't help but be excited that one of those in her flock is a Delaware Blue Hen. Thomas graduated from University of Delaware and having her college's mascot in her classroom is a perfect fit.
Once again, the peep show is alive and well in kindergarten classes throughout the county.
"I taught Pre-K and now I'm teaching kindergarten so this is my first time (hatching chickens). It has been amazing. I was really scared yesterday but it was so cool. We saw cracks (in the incubated egg) and in 25 minutes we had a chick. I am as excited as the kids. It's really cool," said Kenmore Elementary kindergarten teacher Barbie Thomas.
Through Maryland Extension and grant funds, Cecil County 4-H is providing an incubation and embryology project at all the local elementary schools and at a few community sites. For chickens, the incubation period takes about three weeks until they hatch. Each classroom has received or will receive the pre-incubated eggs two weeks into the incubation period. Students and teachers care for and monitor the eggs. After hatching, the newborn chicks remain in classrooms for observation for up to three weeks.
Extension staffer 4-H program assistant Victoria Stone was in all three kindergarten classes at Kenmore last week teaching the second lesson in the embryology unit. These were the practical lessons of feeding, bedding, and warming the peeps. Stone explained that about 60 classrooms are receiving these lessons.
Teacher Amanda Hobson said the snow impacted the hatching process. The students watched for signs of hatching all during the school day. She then set up a time lapse camera to capture any action that happened after school. That's when one decided to hatch.
"This is a really good learning experience for the kids. This teaches them to be caregivers. This is amazing and one of my favorite things in kindergarten. We began talking about it in October," said Hobson.
Once the lesson is over, Hobson will give the chickens a permanent home at her house. She can then provide students with updates.