Trumbull students learn ‘circle of life’ by hatching chicks

TRUMBULL — As a kindergartner, Ari Kovlakas has probably heard a lot of lessons about the importance of cooperation and working with friends and classmates to finish a task. But Ari, 6, said watching a group of chicks hatching in his classroom has taught him that the necessity of working together even extends to the animal kingdom.

“They help each other get out of their eggs,” he explained.

Ari is a student in Jessica Buono’s kindergarten class at Jane Ryan School in Trumbull. His class was one of 26 district-wide that was given five chicken eggs so students could watch them hatch, and learn about the life cycle of chickens.

As of Friday, the eggs in Buono’s class had finished hatching and the kids were allowed to hold the new chicks, watch them run around and even pick out names for them.

“This is an amazing experience for them,” Buono said. “They know so much about the life cycle of chickens now.”

Until two years ago, the chicken-and-egg unit was a regular part of the kindergarten curriculum, said Liz Doherty, the science program leader for kindergarten through fifth grade at Trumbull Public Schools. But it went on hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Doherty said.

But npw it’s back and she said she hopes it’s here to stay.

“This is a unique experience that we want to make sure all Trumbull students get,” Doherty said.

She said the eggs are procured from the UConn agriculture program. In addition to watching the eggs hatch, students will get to build habitats for the chicks. Doherty said, by Thursday, all the chicks will be re-homed, mostly to farms throughout the region.

On Friday, Buono’s class was still enjoying the chicks, and was in the process of picking out names. All of the students were allowed to offer suggestions, which were later voted on. Possible names included Hopscotch, Rose, Puffy Pancake and such straightforward choices as Tiny Bird.

But the unit has taught the children some hard lessons as well. Paraprofessional Shayna Antunes said only four of the class’s five eggs hatched, and the kids had to learn that this sometimes happens, and is a part of the life cycle too.

“We had to explain it and they were able to handle it,” Antunes said.

Buono said she just started at Jane Ryan this year, and hadn’t been around for the previous versions of the chicken unit, but has found it deeply beneficial for the students so far.

“It’s just great hands-on experience,” she said. “And the kids have been so gentle.”