Chicken observation: adaptations and behaviour

Watch a chicken and discuss it's characteristics, needs, body parts, usefulness to humans, behaviour, adaptations etc. Older students can design experiments to asses chicken behaviour and the differences between chickens.
Science content
Biology: Features, Adaptations of Living Things (K, 1, 3, 7)
Biology: Classification of Living Things, Biodiversity (1, 3)
Biology: Evolution, Natural Selection (7)
  • chicken in a display cage with bedding, or free to roam outdoors
  • if indoors: floor tarp to contain bedding mess, cloth to cover cage if chicken gets stressed, dustpan for cleanup
  • treats for chicken e.g. small tomatoes, seeds
  • chicken feed to show
  • possible images to show: pic of my chickens, chicken life cycle with male, chick development in egg, egg graph
  • optional for chicken behaviour measurements: measuring tape and other materials students require

Indoors, sit the students in a circle around the chicken cage. Outdoors, allow students to interact with the chickens.
Cover topics as appropriate for the students' age.
Compare to humans often.

Discussion topics around chicken adaptations:
Chickens are birds - they have two legs and two wings. Chickens cannot fly but if startled will flap into the air briefly.
Chickens have excellent eyesight (birds have the best eyesight of all vertebrates). Although their eyes are on the side of their head, they can very accurately peck at food.
Their beaks are adapted for how they eat. Other birds have differently shaped beaks adapted to how they feed.
Chickens lay eggs for us to eat. The eggs she lays, are not fertilized as we don't have a rooster. (Human females also have eggs.)
Birds feathers keep in heat and enable flight.
All birds have light bones (often partially hollow) so that they are light.
Chickens are the living ancestors of dinosaurs.

Chicken behaviour activity for older students:
Ask students to design experiments to test what foods each chicken likes, which chicken has the best eyes, which chicken can jump the highest etc. Bring in some rigor on experiment design, and assessing variables.

Grades taught
Gr K
Gr 1
Gr 2
Gr 3
Gr 4
Gr 7