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Hatching Education at the Coady and Tompkins Memorial Library

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Over spring break, there were seven new little voices that seemed out of place at the Coady and Tompkins Memorial Library. Each spring, students in Margaree and Cheticamp have the opportunity to watch chicks hatch at the local library. In the weeks prior to spring break, the kids could come see the eggs in the incubator and help with ‘candling’. This is a process used to tell whether or not an egg has an embryo developing inside. A special light, called a candler, is used in a dark room. If there is a shadow inside the egg, it means there is a chick inside.

On March 10th, seven chicks emerged from their shells and visitors to the library could drop in to see and hold the tiny chicks. The kids loved the feel of their fluffy feathers and were surprised at how their tiny toenails felt on their hands.They also learned that chicks have an ‘egg tooth’—a tiny protuberance on the end of their beaks that helps them break out of the egg. The egg tooth disappears the day after the chick hatches. Amazing!

Librarian Kim Tilsley says it’s important for kids to learn about where their food comes from. Seeing the life cycle of a chicken first hand is an important step towards making that connection. One of the harder lessons the kids learned was that not all of the chicks successfully make it out of their egg. One little chick tried to peck its way out but did not succeed. It can be hard to observe the chicks that don’t make it, but these hard lessons are also important.

The chicks will head home with Kim this week where they will develop into laying hens. They should start producing eggs in about five months. Producing eggs locally cuts down on the energy used to transport store-bought eggs long distances. 

March is Canadian Agricultural Literacy Month. There is no better time to integrate agriculture and food into your classroom studies! Here are some ideas for activities to have fun and kick-off learning about our food system:

Bon appetit, everyone!

~Shandel Brown
Engagement Officer, Cape Breton


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