Animals in Literature

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Millie’s Chickens

Raising the chickens in her backyard, Millie is responsible for caring for her birds from sunrise to sunset. The importance of being responsible and meeting the chicken’s needs (food, water, shelter, enrichment, safety, etc.) is covered in this story.

Why use this book?

  • Demonstrates caring for a chicken. While the type of care changes based on specific needs of individual animals, all domestic animals (pets and farm animals) require care that meets their physical and emotional needs.
  • Highlights the strong connection and relationships people have with their animals, known as the human-animal bond

Ask your students:

  • Why does Millie care for the chickens? Chickens are domesticated and depend on people to meet their needs.
  • What are some of the ways Millie cares for her chickens? Provides a space for the chickens to peck, food and water, access to dust baths, a quiet area to lay eggs, a protected coop, a perch, etc.
  • Millie has chickens in her backyard, that are typically found on a farm. What are some farm animals that would not be able to be kept in a backyard? Why?
  • Why do chickens lay different colour eggs? Watch the short Alberta SPCA Curious Questions video where an expert answers the question: Why are there brown eggs and why are there white eggs?


  • Animal Couplets – Have students create their own couplet poetry on how to care for their favourite animal. If their favourite animal is wild, remind students the way people care for wildlife is by leaving them alone, giving them space, and protecting their habitat.
  • The Five Freedoms – Using the Five Freedoms as a guide, have students research the needs of chickens. How are these needs similar and different to the needs of a pet dog or cat?
  • A Day in the Life – The story goes through Millie’s responsibilities from when she wakes up to when she puts the chickens in the coop at night. Have students track and record all the responsibilities associated with their pets from the time they get up to the time they go to sleep. The next day, have students compare with a classmate.
  • Animal by-laws: You aren’t allowed to keep chickens in many backyards in Alberta! There are local by-laws that allow certain types of animals and don’t allow others. With the help from a teacher have students look up the animal by-law for your area, answering the following questions: What animals does they by-law cover? What are the rules? Are backyard chickens allowed in your town/area? What do you think of your town’s animal by-law?
  • Farm 360 – Although chickens can be pets for some people, they are primarily farm animals. Farmed chickens are either ‘layers’ which are raised for egg production or ‘broilers’ which are raised for meat. Have students research different ways chickens are raised for eggs. The Farm 360 has videos of different systems chickens are raised in egg production facilities.

Additional Resources Related to Book:

  • Additional information on chickens, eggs, and other interesting chicken-related information is included at the back of the book.
  • For additional information on raising urban chickens in Alberta visit the Government of Alberta website.


Brenda Williams and Valeria Cis, 2015


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