Ducklings and chicks hatch in local kindergarten classes

by: REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - The Forest Hills ducklings have imprinted on Alison Tinger, so they follow her as they would their mother.What’s cuter than baby birds at an elementary school?

Baby birds at two elementary schools.

Many area kindergartners, including Forest Hills and Lake Grove elementary school students, host hatchlings in the spring to learn about animal life cycles.

The Forest Hills project, which 4-H members facilitated, came to an end last Friday when the school’s eight ducklings were taken to a new nest at a Canby farm.

Forest Hills kindergarten teacher Alison Tinger’s class observed fertilized duckling eggs warm in an incubator for about a month before each duckling stabbed a hole in its shell with a sharp egg tooth a couple of weeks ago. Its job complete, the tiny weapon on the tip of each bird’s beak fell off about two days REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Alison Tinger, Forest Hills kindergarten teacher, holds one of the ducklings that hatched in her kindergarten classroom.

Of the eight ducklings, one failed to hatch. Tinger helped the little guy, named Cutie, warming him in water to remove the shell and then holding him on her chest for hours until he seemed stronger.

“I didn’t think he was going to make it,” Tinger said.

He pulled through, earning him the nickname Miracle Duckling.

Tinger prefers ducklings over chicks because baby ducks love to swim and they imprint, following a human caretaker as they would their mother. The ducks chose Tinger, also bonding with her daughters after she took the avian babies home each REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Jen Hunts Lake Grove kindergarten class eyes the chicks that the class raised.

Tinger loved watching over them, ushering them down the school’s hallways on walks and guiding them to a kiddie pool on the playground where children watched the tiny swimmers test their buoyancy.

“Through this experience, my goal is to have these children love nature and respect it and understand that, though we love watching (the ducklings), we also need to let them go so they can be a part of their natural habitat,” Tinger said.

The chicks Lake Grove Elementary kindergarten teacher Jen Hunt’s class raised nestled into a more natural habitat last Friday, a Molalla farm. The young ducks Lake Grove kindergarten teacher Melissa Mullins’ students are nurturing will settle into their new digs on Friday at a Sandy farm.

The chicken eggs came through the 4-H Incredible Egg program.

“It’s an incredibly valuable thing for the kids to witness, and it’s adorable,” Hunt REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Lake Groves Melissa Mullins is followed by her kindergarten classs hatchlings.

Since 4-H didn’t have duck eggs handy, Mullins ordered them online.

Mullins’ hatchlings picked her as their mama, following her — most of the time.

“They’re pretty reliable unless they’re distracted by children or adults cooing at them,” she said. “I think we laugh the whole time. It draws people out of their rooms and people follow them down the hall.”

The whole school has grown fond of the downy fowls, so much so that the kindergarten science lesson has become a school-wide event, Hunt said. She said it is part of the curriculum, Animals Two-by-Two, to have children observe two similar species. But the study of land snails versus water snails, goldfish versus guppies and red worms versus night crawlers did not inspire the same fascination in the Forest Hills community as the duckling versus chicks one has, Hunt added. Few showed much interest in the other animals’ fates.

The fish and the water snails remain in the classroom, and the worms returned to the earth. The land snails, plucked from another teacher’s garden, quietly disappear.

“Because they’re an invasive species, we have to freeze them, to kill them at the end of that science unit,” Hunt said. “The kids don’t know that.”by: REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Forest Hills student Ryan McAuliffe gets a closer look at the ducklings.

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