LeRoy students get a life lesson

LEROY – After patiently crossing 21 days off their calendar, students at LeRoy Elementary School finally have some new friends to play with.

Eleven baby chicks were born last week in the school’s special education class and instantly become the focus of excitement at the school.

“All the other classes come in to see the chicks,” said special education parapro Luanne Polaski. “It’s a science lesson they can all put their hands on.”

The special education class has six students in kindergarten through second grade with special needs. Although the students come to the class for different portions of each school day, they were all able to see an egg hatch.

As they closely watched the birds break through the hard shell, students also received an exciting first-hand lesson.

“When they watched (the eggs) hatch, we told them how hard (the birds) had to work to get out,” said special education teacher Leslie Thompson. “The kids loved it.”

Twenty-one days before the eggs hatched, the new classroom pets helped students understand how a bird starts its life.

Students helped put the eggs in the incubator, read books and watched videos about the chicks in anticipation of the hatching. They also predicted how many eggs would hatch and what color each bird would turn as it aged. The birds will start to change colors over the next two weeks when the students will find out if their predictions were correct.

“It’s really cool to have a hands-on visual to teach the students,” Polaski said. “When they see these live

animals, they get so excited and have so many questions. It increases their language and vocabulary.”

The eggs came from Polaski’s chicken coop at her house, where she raises chickens every year. Typically half of all incubated eggs will hatch in 21 days, Polaski said.

As of last Thursday, the eggs had incubated for 21 days. By Friday, 11 of the 21 eggs had hatched, and the chicks ranged in color from light yellow to black.

Though students in the class are typically very active, Polaski said each one handles the chicks with gentle care.

“It’s so soft,” said Fiore Fowler, first grade special needs student as she held a young chick in her hands. “It’s so cute.”

The class will keep the birds for a few weeks, Thompson said, and then they will be taken back to their home.

Soon the LeRoy Elementary School special education class will have a new classroom pet.

The class will welcome tadpoles this week as they learn about the life cycle of a frog.