HELPING TEACHERS INSPIRE COMPASSION FOR ANIMALS, PEOPLE & THE ENVIRONMENT

Animals in Literature

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Sonya’s Chickens

From the time they hatched, Sonya watches as her chicks grow into hens, and even start producing their own eggs! Then one night, one of the chickens goes missing. Where did the she go? What happened? When her father sits her down and explains what happened Sonya learns the reality about the interconnectedness of nature. She experiences happiness and the unfortunate pain, that goes with caring for an animal.

Why use this book?

  • Addresses pet loss in a positive and realistic manor. Often the first loss children experience is that of a beloved pet. Books can provide an opportunity to discuss and deal with emotions about loss and grief in a healthy way.
  • Highlights the strong connection and relationships people have with companion animals, known as the human-animal bond.
  • Connects readers to where the food we eat comes from.

Ask students

  • How did Sonya feel when she couldn’t find one of her chickens? Why did she feel this way?
  • When the fox took the chicken, how did it make you feel? How were you feeling towards Sonya? The chicken? The fox?
  • Why did the fox take the chicken?
  • After learning why the fox took the chicken, did your feelings toward the fox change? Explain.
  • Where do your eggs come from? What does egg farming look like where you live? (eggs are produced in a variety of ways – from small backyard flocks, to large scale egg farming operations).

Activities:

  • 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?
  • 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.

Resources

  • For information on helping students deal with pet loss, click here.
  • For a short video on the life cycle of a chicken, click here.
  • Watch this Alberta SPCA video that answer the question: Why are some eggs white & others brown?
  • Watch this Alberta SPCA video that answers the questions: What does it mean when eggs are called ‘free run’?
  • Hatching Eggs or Hatching Problems: Points to consider if you are considering hatching chicken eggs in your classroom.

Author

Phoebe Wahl, 2015

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