Chickens and Literature Lessons
Photo by Rachael Brugger
Chickens sneak their way into language lessons and influence conversational expressions, such as "Don't count your chickens before their hatched."
Chickens can liven up the language arts curriculum at every grade level. The first book about chickens, Ornithologia
, was written in 1600 by Ulisse Aldrovandi, a professor at the University of Bologna. It’s available in a modern translation, Aldrovandi on Chickens
, and would be invaluable as a teaching resource for history and literature, providing illustrated documentation of the chickens at that time as well as insight into their roles in the 16th and 17th centuries.
Chickens often play roles in folk tales, such as “The Little Red Hen.” In the story, the hen’s industrious self-sufficiency, along with the tough-love consequences she metes out to the farmyard animals unwilling to aid in her work, illustrate life lessons. Chickens are the subject of poetry, as well. Robert Frost’s “A Blue Ribbon at Amesbury” is an ode to an award-winning chicken.
Learning chicken terminology expands students’ vocabulary at any age. The littlest ones can learn the differences between a chick and a puppy or a kitten. Senior students can acquire advanced terminology for anatomy and physiology. Language lessons can be playful, too, letting students explore how chickens influence our conversation through chicken-related expressions such as “coming home to roost” and “Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched.”
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