Teacher’s Page

Are you a teacher who is teaching your students about chickens and eggs? Need some ideas? You’ve come to the right place! Start your program by reading my book, Tillie Lays an Egg (Scholastic, 2009). Then, make use of my live-streaming barn cams on your computer and smart boards.

Concepts learned while reading

  1. Days of the week.
  2. Counting—for the littlest ones, simply count the eggs or the chickens. Older children can count every chicken image they see on the page.
  3. Chickens lay only one egg a day
  4. Chickens are omnivores — they eat corn and worms (and lots of vegetables!)

Activities to do after reading

  1. Watch the animals on the HenCam! http://HenCam.com (Please be aware that “Tillie” is the stage name for my bantam White Leghorns.)
  2. Have each child draw a picture of a chicken. There are many breeds of chickens. Some examples are in Tillie Lays an Egg. Go to the Who’s Who page on HenCam. http://HenCam.com/whos-who/the-animals/ My flock contains several breeds of hens. Note that different breeds not only have a variety of feather colors, but also legs can be white, yellow, black, red or brown. Combs can be big, little, or not there at all. Let the children get creative!
  3. Give names to your flock — one of the fun things about having chickens is coming up with names. Some people name their hens after famous women, like Eleanor Roosevelt and Betsy Ross. Others name them after favorite book characters, or spices, or breakfast cereals. Have fun!
  4. Write/draw/discuss the next Tillie adventure. Will she go to a fair? Your school? What silly place will she lay her egg?
  5. Create a Venn diagram that compares Tillie and the other hens.
  6. Have a book nook with chicken books. See my FAQ of favorite chicken books for children: http://HenCam.com/faq/childrens-books-featuring-chickens/
  7. Hatch your own chicks. This is a good resource: http://lancaster.unl.edu/4h/embryology/
  8. Spend time learning about feathers via The Cornell Lab’s excellent site, All About Feathers. http://biology.allaboutbirds.org/all-about-feathers/

Ways to use HenCam in the classroom

  1. Watch the animals on the HenCam. http://www.HenCam.com/
  2. Turn HenCam into a science station. Have children write down observations about what the animals are doing. How often do they eat, sleep, and rest? What else do they do?
  3. Do the animals behave differently when the weather changes? What happens when it is wet? Cold? Dark? Sunny?
  4. Preschoolers can learn to keep a chart. Keep a list of the different hens. Each time a child sees a hen on the screen, they can mark the chart, or mark it each time a hen is seen eating, or in a nesting box.
  5. Classrooms that do a hatching program usually give the chicks away before they feather out and become adults. The HenCam is a way to introduce mature chickens to the students.

Fun craft projects and other things

  1. Make a chicken mask. Glue on feathers.
  2. Make a yellow chicken crown. Glue on cutouts of eggs, chicks. Add feathers.
  3. Do the chicken dance. Here is the dance on The Lawrence Welk Show http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6UV3kRV46Zs
  4. Make a chicken “purse” from a plate. http://www.freepreschoolcrafts.com/easter-chick-purse-from-paper-plate/
  5. Use a plastic cup to make a chicken clucker. http://www.sciencebob.com/experiments/chicken_cup.php

I welcome your ideas! Please email me at terry@terrygolson.com

At The Conference

I spent yesterday at the NESCBWI conference. SCBWI is an acronym for Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. If you’ve an aspiring writer, or if you’ve made it and want a community of your peers, then this is the organization to belong to.

Two years ago I went to the conference, but I had so so little hearing left that, even when sitting in the front row, I missed 70% of what the speakers were saying. I didn’t think I’d ever return. But, now, with my CIs, I decided to see whether a conference was a possibility for me. I sat in the front, which is still necessary, but this time I heard 90% of the proceedings. It was the most extraordinary, miraculous experience to be in an audience and to hear what others were hearing. I still miss the quick quips, and if there’s lots of laughter or clapping I can’t hear the words masked by the background noise. But that’s a small quibble. I literally couldn’t believe my ears. I’m sure the talks were excellent. I’ll leave others to blog about them. I paid attention at the time. But now, looking back, all I remember is that I heard. I even went out to dinner and was able to take part in a conversation with three companions in a noisy restaurant. Amazing.

(For those new to my blog, start here. I’m a cyborg. I have two cochlear implants. Without these medical devices, I’m deaf.)

I was so overwhelmed that when Cynthia Lord (yes, that Cynthia Lord, the Newbery Award winner) stopped by my table at the lunch banquet, to ask me how my “girls” are, that I didn’t at first recognize her. It’s hard to hear and see at the same time. I’m still learning to integrate all of the senses. (By the way, Cynthia is a HenCam fan. I like thinking that my hens are flickering on computer screens around the world, calming and inspiring writers.)

When I sat down at the large round banquet table I noticed that the woman next to me had “chicken” printed on her name tag. Wow, I thought, other people are into chickens here, too. Why don’t I have chicken on my name tag? And then I realized that “chicken” was her entree choice. I do live in my own poultry-centric world, don’t I?

It was a two hour drive home. I have a CD of the Beatle’s number 1 hits that I purchased a few years ago. I know the music well-enough that even with a severe hearing loss I could hum along. I haven’t listened to it since getting my second CI. I popped it into the slot. It sounded pretty good. And then, I was so stunned by what I was hearing that I almost had to pull over. Recently I had my CI reprogrammed to give me more high notes. I haven’t heard these sounds since I was a child. Or, maybe never. One of the Beatles was playing a tambourine.

It jingles! It jangles! It rings! I had no idea.

I have a long road trip coming up in May to western New York State. I’m going to get a whole slew of CDs from the library – music I think that I’m familiar with. I wonder what I’ll hear. I wonder what I’ve been missing. I’ll try to keep driving while I’m listening, because I don’t want to be late for my talk at the Farmer’s Museum. I hope to meet some of you there. I can’t wait to hear and see you.

The Rooster Puppets’ New Home

I used random.org to select the winner of the rooster puppets giveaway. It was sheer luck, but the roos couldn’t be going to a better home. Here is the entry from Shelley:

Having a summer day camp for kids with disabilities. They will be riding, grooming and other stable chores, feeding/caring for chickens, collecting eggs so they can participate in the weekly farmer’s market, crafts and working on social skills. Spruce Point Farm Camp in LaGrange, KY

Bet they would sell alot of eggs using the puppets!

Shelley, I want to see a photo of the roosters and kids at the farmer’s market!

Hens Don’t Have Teeth

Contrary to what you see in the movie Chicken Run, chickens don’t have teeth.

Like all birds, they have beaks. Which means they can’t chew – at least not in their mouths. Instead, they eat tiny rocks, which are stored in their gizzard. The gizzard is a tough and powerful muscle, and as it squeezes and churns, it uses the rocks to grind up the food.

Today is one of those days that I wish I had a beak and a gizzard. Instead, I have teeth, which despite me doting on them day and night require much attention by my dentist. Today I had a root canal.

I’m taking another pain killer and going back to bed.

Agatha Agate and Florence

These two are Speckled Sussex. These hens, though of the same breeding, are unique unto themselves. In fact, all of the Speckled Sussex that I’ve had have all been full of character—friendly, active, curious and demanding. They might be my favorite breed. Florence is named after Florence Bascom, the first woman hired by the United States Geological Survey (in 1896). She is the smallest, quickest and smartest of the two. Agatha Agate is a very, very sweet hen of very little brain. She likes to sit on laps. She likes children. She would never peck anyone. Agatha is the perfect hen for school visits and is adored by many.