The pre-K program at St. Rose of Lima School had a few special visitors Tuesday morning: Cagney, Drew and Wali went in the Roger Williams Zoomobile with their caretaker Kelly Fenton to help wrap up the preschool’s hatchling program with Casey Farms.
In late April, Casey Farms visited the classrooms of Lori Healey and Tracy Medeiros with boxes of chicken eggs for the classes to incubate.
Through the following weeks Medeiros and Healey discussed with the 3- and 4-year-olds of the program the science of a hatchling from the parts inside the egg to how the chickens hatch. On May 20 and 21 the chicks began to hatch and the kids were “eggstatic” to get the chance to actually watch everything they had been learning about occur. Twelve of the 24 eggs hatched. The kids were excited to tell anyone about their chicks. They huddled around the large cardboard box to watch the young chicks. Tentative hands reached down to pet the soft new feathers of the chicks, but jumped back up as the young birds bounced closer to the tiny hands.
Healey said, “The eggs hatching was something visual. This whole process incorporated all the forms of learning. At such a young age you don’t know what type of a learner each kid is yet, but this worked for all of them. They all loved it.”
The teachers had planned to take both classes on a field trip back to Casey Farms to finish off the hatchling program, but after difficulties organizing the trip with such young students Healey and Medeiros decided to bring the lesson to the school instead. They pulled their funds together and hired Roger Williams Park Zoo’s Zoomobile.
The children sat in a half-circle as Kelly Fenton asked them questions on habitats. She asked the children what are some habitats animals live in. She received colorful answers, such as the rainforest, the desert, the jungle and, of course … Texas. The students were thrilled to answer questions about what animals lived, and raised excitedly shaking hands for the chance to answer.
After a reading of “Do Ducks Live in the Desert” and a fun habitat game, Fenton brought out the animals the kids had been anxious to see. Cagney, Drew and Wali were the stars of the afternoon. Cagney is a tenrec, a tiny rainforest animal that slightly resembles a hedgehog with quills covering its back. After a healthy dose of Purell, the kids got to pet the small quills.
“The quills won’t hurt. They will feel just like touching the bristles of your toothbrush,” Fenton assured both teachers and students.
Then Drew, the pigeon that loves people, let the children pet her bright white tail feather. Drew cooed a “goodbye” to the kids as she was put back in her carrier.
The kids weren’t allowed to pet Wali, but they watched as the blue-tongued skink moved his thick snakelike body and tiny legs around a protective mat.
Although the students had to say goodbye to their new friends Cagney, Drew, and Wali and their baby chicks, the kids learned so much from each in their short time together. Both teachers were steadfast that they would be continuing to do the chick hatching with future classes.