YORKVILLE — Each year for approximately the past 25, third graders at Yorkville Elementary School have learned about the life cycle of animals with the help of some feathered friends.
“It’s tradition,” said third-grade teacher Sue Henderson.
This year, Henderson brought 12 duck eggs to put in her classroom incubator on Sept. 12, and they all hatched on Sept. 16. The ducklings stayed in the classroom for the next four days and then went home with students in the classroom who live on farms.
Henderson said having the ducks physically at hand helps the students better understand and remember the life cycle, from embryo to full-grown Pekin duck.
This year, all the ducklings hatched on the same day, the first one at 7:01 a.m. and the last one at about 5:15 p.m.
“They got to see them hatch throughout the day,” Henderson said. “They were just so excited and surprised, and some of them had never seen anything like that before.”
The class took frequent breaks that day to check on the eggs and watch them hatch. The students named the ducklings as they emerged.
Once the ducklings were about four days old, the class did an experiment with them. First the students predicted whether the ducklings could swim. Then Henderson brought out a tub of water and let the ducklings have at it.
“Of course they could swim and we talked about the word ‘instinct’ and how they just knew how to do it,” Henderson said.
This year, six families of students in Henderson’s class each agreed to adopt two ducklings.
Katie Maurice’s son Cole was one of the students who brought home ducklings. Her older son did the same two years ago.
“He’s enjoying it,” Katie Maurice said. “He loves to check on them every day.”
She said Cole’s been good at feeding them and loves to play with them.
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“It’s been a fun project for the kids to watch them grow,” she said.
The family still has one of the ducks from two years ago, and she said her children ate some of the duck eggs.
Amanda Funk, mother of student Bruce Funk, said the family already had chickens on their Yorkville farm, so they decided to add the ducks to the mix.
Her son bought around 15 chicks at the same time as he brought home the ducks.
“He’s excited,” Funk said. “He enjoys comparing the chicks and the ducks.”
He’s looking forward to buying a kiddie pool for the ducks to swim in, when the weather is warmer.
“He’s very proud that they hatched at school,” Funk said.
Henderson hopes the duckling project solidifies the life cycle of animals into her students’ memories, and gives them a love for animals.
“You ask them about things they remember about third grade and that is always one of their favorites,” Henderson said. “They remember the ducklings and the life cycle and the names that they named them all.”
Henderson said one of her students this year told her he’d put his ducklings in a roller skate and took them for a ride.
“They just have a good old time with them,” Henderson said.
“You ask them about things they remember about third grade and that is always one of their favorites. They remember the ducklings and the life cycle and the names that they named them all.” Sue Henderson, Yorkville Elementary teacher