The Genesis Milnrow nursery went back to nature in May and enjoyed a cracking good time. As part of the ongoing educational programme given to the young children, the nursery received chicken eggs and incubators from Living Eggs (a Yorkshire company), and Mother Nature did the rest.
The experience is designed to teach the children about the wonderful cycle of life, how to look after living things, and also about the importance of hygiene and cleanliness.
The project is one of the nursery’s many activities that enhance the children’s experience of the early years foundation stage (EYFS), which sets standards for the learning, development and care of children up to five years old.
Everyone at the nursery was excited when the eggs arrived, with children peering into the incubator every few minutes to see if anything had happened. The Genesis staff explained how the eggs would eventually hatch into tiny chickens after a few days under the warm lamp, but that it would not be instant.
And then it happened. During day two, a tiny crack appeared on the shell of one egg. The children rushed over to get the best possible view as the light brown shell began to break. This is called pipping, when the chick pecks at the shell from the inside. It took about two hours, but eventually a fluffy yellow bundle tumbled out. It had a pink beak and pink feet.
The children watched in awe. When parents arrived during the day they too wanted to see the young chick. By then, another egg had opened. And then another. Those moments watching new life begin were truly amazing, and the parents were as enthusiastic as the children.
Milnrow’s deputy manager, Lindsey Dillon, was delighted with the process. She said: “Watching the children’s faces light up was fabulous. They were fascinated and listened to every word when staff explained what was happening. They are hungry for knowledge, and giving them such a solid grounding about life gives the nursery staff a real sense of fulfilment.”
The chicks’ progress was dramatic and they grew quickly, and the staff tweeted pictures of the young birds onto social media (I know, this was an ongoing yolk… I mean joke). The Milnrow children were allowed to handle the chicks every day, and then everyone made sure to wash their hands thoroughly. Staff took care of feeding, and cleaning out their box. Nurturing the chicks for the first few days is called brooding.
Genesis Nursery looked after the young chicks for about two weeks until they were ready to be reared in larger facilities. They were given to a local man who rears chickens as a hobby. The children said goodbye, a sad farewell, but everyone enjoyed the process.
The nursery staff and children are now waiting pictures of the chicks when they grow into chickens. Everyone has agreed that they want to do the same again next year.