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Lesson Plan

Chicks and Eggs: Beginning Embryology for Primary Students (a SMART Board Lesson) by ECSDM

Course, Subject

Biology/Living Environment, English Language Arts (2005), Math, Science & Technology, English Language Arts (NYS P-12 Common Core)

Grade Levels

Elementary, 1st Grade

Step-by-Step Procedure

  1. Complete the What I Know egg and the What I Want to Know egg in the Egg KWL notebook file. Be sure to save file.
  2. Open the Chick Embryology notebook file. Slides 1 and 2 are introduction slides.
  3. Slide 3 - Discuss the fact that chickens are birds and that all birds lay eggs. Students will give descriptive and comparative words to tell about the chicken egg.
  4. Slide 4 - Discuss the slide. Ask why students think that the egg must be warm. If you have already taught plants and seed germination, a connection may be made between the plant seed needing warmth and the egg needing warmth. Remind students that the eggs we buy in stores do not contain baby chicks and will never hatch even if kept in an incubator.
  5. You will be connected to the Enchanted Learning website when you click on the link. You will need to scroll down to show the diagram of the egg. Point out each label and what it shows. Ask the students to predict the functions of the shell and the yolk. Scroll down a little further to show the definition for each of the words.
    The students may complete the Enchanted Learning Label the Egg activity sheet (see materials). This may be done in conjunction with the slide or afterwards as an assessment.
  6. Slide 6 - Review the instructions on the slide. You will again be connected to the Enchanted Learning website when you click on the link. You will scroll down to view the blue chart (use the zoom function on your browser and zoom to 150% to better view the chart). Students will compare the development of the chick at days 8, 12, and 16. (NOTE- If you are hatching eggs in your room, you may wish to bookmark this website so you can refer to the chart to check chick development as you approach hatch day.)

    ***There is a link to photos of the development of the chick embryo. You will want to preview these to determine if they are appropriate for your class. If you choose to use them with your class, prepare them by telling them that scientists study eggs and chicks. They are able to use special cameras to take photos in the egg. Just as in nature, not all eggs will hatch and scientist study those eggs and chicks to learn what happens in the egg and what might cause the chick to die before hatching so that they can help other chicks and eggs.***

    You may also choose to use the PBS-NOVA website link listed below. You will want to set this up before the lesson. The link takes you to the NOVA morphing site. Scroll down to find the chicken clip. You may use the QuickTime format or the AVI format (which needs the Windows Media Player). This is a time lapsed clip showing how the chick embryo develops. You can have the clip ready to play before starting the lesson. I found that the picture quality is better if you shrink the Media Player box to fit about 1/4 of the screen.
  7. Slide 7 - Read the slide to the students. Click the link to view the University of Nebraska's embryology website. The photos show how eggs are candled and what you may see when you candle eggs (very helpful if you are candling eggs in the classroom). If you scroll down the page, there are several candling videos. When you click on the video link, you will need to scroll down to see the video. There is also a description under the video describing what you will see.
  8. Ask the students if they can pick out the chick and to describe what they see. Have them compare the difference between the embryos on days 6, 11, and 16.
  9. Students can draw pictures and write sentences to tell about chick development using the Chick Development Recording Sheet (one per student for each day recorded). They can use the pictures from the websites or record what they actually see if you are candling eggs within the classroom.

    ***At the bottom of the page is a superimposed picture of an actual chick embryo and a candled egg. (Again you will need to determine if you want to scroll all the way down to show this portion of the page to your class.)
  10. Return to the Egg KWL file. Review the What I Know egg to see if there was any misinformation. Add information to the What I've Learned egg. Review the What I Want to Know egg to see which questions have been answered. Add new questions in another color if more questions have arisen. Be sure to save file.
  11. Slide 8 - The job of the egg tooth: You will move the egg to reveal the hidden answer. The answer is also a link to a webpage that has a photo of a chick's egg tooth. Scroll down for a description.
  12. Slide 9 - Hatching: The illustrations show the hatching process. Each illustration is also a link to a video showing a real chick hatching at that point. Scroll down to see the video and a description.
  13. Slide 10 - Post Hatch: Once the chick dries it can be moved to a brooder box. You can see its fluffy down. In the brooder box is a light to keep the chicks warm, food, and water. Several days after hatch the chick will begin to get wing and tail feathers. This slide links to a page with photos of different chicks. As you click on each photo to enlarge, you can point out the brooder box that the chicks live in and how the chick begins to get its real feathers.
  14. Complete the Hatch Sequencing activity page (found in the materials section).
  15. Return to the Egg KWL file. Review the What I Know egg to see if there was any misinformation. Add information to the What I've Learned egg. Review the What I Want to Know egg to see which questions have been answered. Be sure to save file.
  16. Slide 11 - Vocabulary Review - As a class activity you can have students match the vocabulary word to its definition.
  17. Slide 12-13 - The hatch sequencing activity may also be completed in two ways as a group as a review activity. Slide 12 is a drag and sort. Slide 13 is a matching activity.
  18. Additional trade books and/or videos (in addition to those listed) that are available in your school may be used to support or extend this lesson. Students may use these materials for additional facts in the KWL or for the Fact Recoding Sheet.


Using this SMART Board file, students will be able to learn about the development of a chick in the egg and how it hatches from the egg. The lesson requires internet access as many pages are linked to websites. You may use this lesson even if you are not hatching eggs in your classroom. If you are not hatching eggs, you may be interested in the University of Nebraska's Eggcam (linked from their website listed below). When they are conducting incubation projects, they have a variety of eggs (chicken, turkey, duck, peacock, guinea fowl) on web cam. (This may not be active year round so check prior to your lesson.)

Materials and Resources

Enchanted Learning: Chicken webpage
PBS-NOVA website- Chicken Development Morph
University of Nebraska's Embryology Website

Duration of Lesson

(If you are hatching eggs in your classroom, you may choose to spread out the lesson or repeat slides to meet the needs of your class while the eggs are in the incubator.)
Day 1 (Steps 1-5) - 45-60 minutes
Day 2 (Steps 6-8) - 45-60 minutes
Day 3 (Steps 9-13)- 45-60 minutes
Day 4 (Steps 14-16) - 45-60 minutes

Learning Objectives

  • Students will identify the purpose of the shell, yolk, and egg white.
  • Students will record how the chick embryo changes in the shell.
  • Students will sequence what occurs as a chick hatches.
  • Students will record two facts learned about chicken embryology.


  • SMART Board attached to computer with internet access and projector, SMART Notebook and word files (see below).
  • Other trade books you may use as a resource:
    • The Egg (First Discovery Books) by Gallimard Jeunesse & Pascale De Bourgoing
    • Chickens Aren't the Only Ones by Ruth Heller (also available on video through the Reading Rainbow series of videos)
  • Chick Development Recording Sheet
  • Fact Recording Sheet
  • Hatch sequencing.doc
  • Enchanted Learning "Label the Egg" Activity Sheet
  • Egg KWL.notebook
  • Chick Embryology Notebook file
  • Assessment

    • Monitor answers given during KWL and interactive activities in the Embryology SMART Notebook file.
    • Completion of independent sequencing activity.
    • Completion of fact writing assignment.
    • Completion of chick development writing sheets.

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