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Chicken Math | Homeschool Lessons from Backyard Chickens

Backyard chickens, like dogs, cats and bunnies, make wonderful family pets. But unlike raising a dog, cat or bunny, raising a flock of chickens provides a multitude of learning experiences for homeschooling children.

Kids of all ages can learn important life lessons from backyard chickens.

Homeschool Lessons from Backyard Chickens

Raising chickens can be extremely educational. In addition to teaching kids responsibility and learning that daily chores are essential, caring for chickens also teaches them empathy for animals. It teaches them that even if your chickens are ultimately providing food for your family, treating them with care and gentleness is still important.

Raising chickens also shows kids where their food comes from, emphasizes the importance of eating fresh and local food AND enjoy fresher, more nutritious meals! 

Building a chicken coop and  safe, specious run or pen for the chickens can be a great family activity letting everyone get involved in the design and building, choosing paint colors and painting the coop, and planting flowers in window boxes and around the coop.

But there are lots more lessons to be learned from backyard chickens. Raising chickens can be a great math learning tool for parents who homeschool kids of all ages. Even if you're not homeschooling your kids, there are still all kinds of things to teach them not only about raising chickens, but to practice the lessons they learn in school. 

Chicken Math

Those of us with backyard flocks call it "chicken math". Three chickens somehow turns into six, which turns into a dozen and before you know it, you've got three dozen chickens running around your backyard. 

Counting your chickens before they hatch is generally not recommended, but counting eggs can definitely help teach kids math! Word problems using different scenarios can make math more fun.  Of course the difficulty can be adjusted for the age of your children.

For example:

  • We have 5 chickens in the coop. If one runs away and hides under a bush, how many chickens do we have now?
  • We have 3 chickens currently. If we go to the feed store and buy 5 more, now how many chickens do we have?
  • I have a basket with 14 eggs in it. If I break 6, how many eggs will I be left with?
  • We have 3 chickens, Grandpa has 4 chickens and cousin Amanda has 7 chickens. How many chickens is that total?
  • We have a dozen eggs and need 3 eggs to bake a cake. After we bake the cake, how many eggs will we have left?
  • Our hen is sitting on 9 eggs. If 30% of the eggs hatch? How many chicks will she have?
  • We have a bowl of 12 strawberries. If we have 4 chickens and divide the berries evenly among them, how many berries will each chicken get?
  • We have 4 chickens and collected  24 eggs this week. How many eggs on average did each chicken lay?
  • If we have 24 chickens and 40% of the hens lay an egg today, how many eggs will we collect?

Geography and History Homeschool Lessons from Backyard Chickens

Kids  can learn geography by researching where the various breeds of chickens originated, learning about those countries and pointing them out on a map or globe.  

They can learn about the history of the country as well as the breed,  point out their different characteristics that  make them suited to the climate where they came from, and find out when they came to the United States.

Kids can also have fun learning the word for "chicken" in different languages.

Science and Anatomy Homeschool Lessons from Backyard Chickens

Learning the different parts of an egg can be fascinating. For younger kids, pointing out the shell, white  and yolk is probably sufficient, while older kids can learn all about the membranes,  chalazae and germinal disc, and their various functions. 

Researching and drawing the chicken reproductive system is another great learning lesson.  Younger kids can practice drawing chickens and labeling the different body parts, head, legs, wings, etc. 

Homeschooling Lessons for Different Ages

Depending on the ages of your kids, they can be assigned a variety of "chicken chores" and also other 
homeschooling lessons based on their age.

Little Kids (Ages 2 to 5)

Little kids can get involved with raising chickens by helping to look for eggs (although you need to be prepared for a fair amount of breakage!) and toss treats to the chickens from a small pail. They can sprinkle herbs in the nesting boxes and help fill the dispensers with grit and oyster shell. 

Little ones can practice counting skills by counting the eggs in their basket.  They can learn some basic math skills by adding or taking away eggs from a carton. 

They can practice their colors by naming the colors of various eggs or arranging them by color. They can even try to count the chickens (although counting eggs is a LOT easier!) 

Older Kids (6 to 12)

Older kids can let the chickens out in the morning, help fill feeders and waters, carry fresh straw to the coop and watch the chickens while they are in the yard. They can keep the nesting boxes full of bedding and help get the chickens back into the coop at night. 

They can keep track of how many eggs they collect each day on a spreadsheet.

Teens (13 to 16)

Teens can be responsible for doing head counts and locking the chickens up at night (although its always a good idea to have a parent double check that the coop has been locked and everyone is inside) and carrying heavier bags of feed or shavings. 

They can help clean out the chicken coop and fill pails of dirt for the dust baths. They can check that feeders and waterers are clean and full, and dump and clean them out as needed.

Teens can figure how much feed each chicken eats and put together a budget for feed, coop bedding, treats and supplements and calculate how much it costs to raise their chickens per week or month. 

 They can figure out daily and weekly egg production averages or annual forecasts. And they can do more difficult math problems like how many chickens will fit in a coop of a specific size. 

They could even start an egg business, learning how to decide how much to charge for the eggs and how to calculate profits.

Bottom line, a flock of backyard chickens can provide so many benefits besides fresh eggs, for all families, but especially for children being homeschooled or home doing virtual learning. 

Homeschool lessons learned from backyard chickens will make learning more fun for everyone. Chicken math is real, and chickens really do make wonderful pets! 

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Further Reading
Beginners Guide to Raising Backyard Chickens
Beginners Guide to Raising Chicks
Kid-Friendly Chicken Breeds

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