Other nurseries may get excited about deliveries of new toys and books.
But here at Brook Farm Children's Day Nursery there has been no plastic or paper in sight... instead we have been thrilled to welcome some very different new arrivals – in the form of 9 fluffy ducklings (and more on the way!). Our expert childcare team, guided by Helen “Mother Duck” Mullarkey, have been expanding their skillset and taking care of the adorable creatures, which have hatched in our nursery incubator this week. The children have been utterly enthralled to take part in the whole process and as always have been like sponges, soaking up lots of new information and learning egg-citing facts (and poultry puns!). And the whole uniquely stimulating experience seamlessly links in with the government's Early Years Foundation Stage targets; with the ducklings' physical growth mirroring our children's emotional and intellectual development.
WATCHING AND WAITING
The children's curiosity has been ignited by the presence of the eggs in the incubator, and they have been using their observational skills - looking and listening - and waiting for that all important TAP, TAP, CRACK!
They have experienced a sense of patience and anticipation with this long-term activity. Sharing skills and inter-personal relationships have been developed as the children have taken turns to view the eggs, as it would harm the embryos to lift the lid off the incubator.
And of course lots of questions have been raised: What's inside the egg? Why do the eggs needs to be kept warm and humid? Why do the eggs need to be turned? How long will they take to hatch? What will the ducklings look like when they come out? Critical thinking galore! CRACKING FUN Levels of concentration reached an all-time high as soon as the first tiny cracks appeared! The children were engrossed and they learned about managing emotions... resisting the temptation to speed up the process and “help” the ducklings crack open the shell, as well as controlling feelings of over-excitement to ensure a calm, quiet environment for the hatching babies. FLUFFY FRIENDS At 3 days old the ducklings were at last ready for a cuddle! The children had their senses of sight, sound and touch fully engaged – hearing the chirps, practising gentle handling of the bundles of soft fluff, feeling the soft fuzziness compared to the hard beak, and seeing and touching the tiny webbed feet. The children have expanded their vocabulary and knowledge: “hatch”, “humid”, “incubator”, “webbed feet” “temperature”, “embryo” “waddle”. A great science lesson on life cycles! GROWING UP Keeping the eggs and ducklings warm, fed and safe and helping them grow reflects the exact experience of the children in our nursery; the children can relate to the baby birds and feel a sense of security, confidence and belonging in their surroundings. The children also learn about hygiene – keeping the ducklings' housing clean, and self-care with hand-washing after handling animals.
As the ducklings continue to grow the children will be taking part in problem solving and creative thinking – helping us draw, design and build a duck pond and duck house.
EGGS-TRAORDINARY EGG-PERIENCE! Of course the best thing about our new ducks will be when they start laying eggs for the children to collect – another new experience to compare the taste, size and texture of duck eggs with hen eggs, and have hands-on experience of food production. Yummy scrummy!