Gortnahoe Community Playgroup

When I was approached by Sonia and Billy Lanigan in relation to their Cock-A-Doodle-Doo School Hatching Programme I had no hesitation incorporating it into our playgroup setting. We are a rural based community playgroup so giving the children any opportunity to experience nature is part of our policy. We are very active in implementing Aistear The Early Childhood Curriculum Framework from NCCA and the Cock-A-Doodle-Doo programme helped us enormously to re-enforce this programme as it caters for the children’s needs under its four themes of Communication, Well-Being, Exploring and Thinking and Identity and Belonging.

Before Billy came to our setting we spoke to the children and documented it, as part of a learning story. What the children’s understanding was in relation to chickens, hens, where do eggs come from? Where do chickens come from? etc. To say there were excitement the day the eggs came to playgroup is putting it mildly.

Billy arrived on a Monday morning with eggs in an incubator. He also provided a brooder, chicken enclosure and enough food and bedding for the chickens to last two weeks. He set up the equipment and checked it to ensure its safety in relation to both the children and the project. He then talked to the children about the equipment and the process of the eggs hatching and the little chicks been born.

Over the course of the week the children couldn’t wait to get into playgroup each morning to see had any chicks hatched. Staff and parents also became actively involved. When the first chick hatched the excitement was worth it. Week one saw our chicks being born, week two saw how active the little chicks got on a daily basis, movement, feeding, chirping.

Through the introduction of the Cock-A-Doodle-Doo Programme the children within our setting have learnt first-hand the process from egg to hatching stage to the little chicks developing. Aistear in its theme Communication: aim 2; tells us that ‘children will use language to interact with other children and adults by listening, discussing and taking turns in conversation’. It has helped their language development through the questions asked and language used to describe the equipment and the hatching process etc. Their communication skills through constant social interactions with other children and adults as it opened up many opportunities for talking within the setting around the topic. Aistears theme on Well-Being aim 3 tells us ‘Children will be creative and spiritual’ if we can ‘develop and nurture their sense of wonder and awe’. The children’s well-being was catered for on so many levels in that it was such a fun, happy and enjoyable experience for all the children. Aistear’s theme on Exploring and Thinking aim 1 tells us that ‘children will learn about and make sense of the world around them’. In learning goal 4; ‘children will learn about the natural environment and its features, materials, animals, and plants, and their own responsibility as carers’. What an exciting way for young children to experience the outside world on a small scale.

I would recommend Cock-A-Doodle-Doo to any early years setting or primary school environment. The cost of the programme is well worth it. It is totally hassle free because everything you need is supplied from day one. Also, Sonia and Billy were at the end of the phone to take any of our queries. Finally, this programme gave the children such a great opportunity to extend their understanding, knowledge and learning about the natural world and our environment. I have no doubt this learning experience will be remembered as a very happy one and remain with them for many years to come.

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Gortnahoe Community Playgroup