Learn all about a chicken's life! This post includes dozens of chicken activities for kids. Highlighted, however, is an easy paper plate life cycle of a chicken activity.
Spring is an inspiring time of year. Children's minds and bodies respond to more daylight in such positive and inspiring ways. Gardens begin their growth and rejuvenation and the air (in the northern hemisphere) starts to warm.
In other words, it's time to peel off the layers, plants some seeds, and watch life come full circle. Heading to a farm is always an exciting time.
I've got loads of life sciences activities on this blog but I particularly love this topic of chickens for many reasons. These spring activities are inexpensive, easy, creative, and kids learn life sciences! Children will learn all about the life stages of a chicken and a little zoology to boot!
Chicken Facts for Kids
- Chickens are domesticated birds, which means they're tame and usually live within a fenced area. It has been this way for thousands of years.
- There are 50 billion chickens around the world.
- Chickens live in little houses called “coops”.
- Humans raise chickens for their meat and eggs.
- Adult chickens are called roosters and hens.
- A male chicken is a rooster.
- A female chicken is a hen.
- Chicken eggs come in many colors including pink, white, brown, blue, and green.
- Chickens live about 5 to 7 years.
- The American Poultry Board recognizes more than 60 breeds of chicken. Worldwide, there are 100s of additional breeds.
- There is a pecking order for eating.
- A chicken's heart rate beats 275 per minute.
- Chickens can live without their heads for a long time.
- Inside an egg is a yellow yolk. This yolk contains everything a growing chicken need before it hatches.
- A mother hen sits on her eggs for about 21 days carefully turning the eggs over that time.
How Do Chickens Lay Eggs?
A chicken laying eggs is a fascinating thing to learn. According to Backyard Poultry (a terrific resource if you're interested in backyard chickens), lets the cat out of the bag (so to speak). Yes, it is true, a hen lays her eggs through the same opening as she poops.
Backyard Poultry details the process in their write up (which I highly recommend you read – it is fascinating!):
“During a yolk’s journey through the two-foot-long oviduct, it is fertilized (if sperm are present), encased in various layers of egg white, wrapped in protective membranes, sealed within a shell, and finally enveloped in a fast-drying fluid coating called the bloom or cuticle.
When the process is complete, the shell gland at the bottom end of the oviduct pushes the egg into the cloaca, a chamber just inside the vent where the reproductive and excretory tracts meet — which means, yes, a chicken lays eggs and poops out of the same opening. But not at the same time.
The shell gland, which technically is the hen’s uterus, grips the egg so tightly that the gland gets turned inside out as it follows the egg through the cloaca and out through the vent. If you come along when a hen is laying an egg, and she happens to be facing away from you, you might catch a glimpse of the tissue — vividly red because it’s loaded with tiny blood vessels — briefly protruding around the edges of the vent before it withdraws back inside the hen as soon as the egg is laid.”
A Short Video of a Hen Laying Eggs
How Often Do Chickens Lay Eggs?
Great question! I don't have an exact answer for you but here is some helpful information. According to The Spruce, some hens lay an egg every day, while others lay an egg every 1.5 to 2 days.
Also, it depends on the age of the chicken. Younger hens tend to lay smaller eggs at larger intervals. Hens typically begin laying eggs around 6 months of age. This goes on for years with the “peak” laying period around 3 to 4 years old.
Oh, and by the way, in case you were curious, a hen does NOT need a rooster to lay an egg. If a rooster is present, it is likely the egg will become fertilized.
Life Cycle of a Chicken Crafts & Activities
Dissolving Egg Science
A great introduction to the anatomy of an egg and learning about the life cycle of a chicken is the dissolving egg activity. I love this experiment because you can truly see the delicate membrane within which the chicken fetus grows.
This adorable printable book tracks the 21 days to hatching. The illustrations depict a real-life embryo to fetus to hatching.
Curious about how to raise chicks in your learning environment? This post gives you the rundown on how to make it happen – surprisingly it is quite easy!