Over the school year, the kids have learned to approach the animals in a calm and controlled way, something they don’t automatically know how to do, especially if they don’t have animals at home. They’ve developed confidence, and some enjoy picking up the chickens, having learned which ones are least skittish and most amenable to being held.
We always try to use our “math language” during this activity, using words like “plus” and “minus” even as we embed the math into a story problem to make it more concrete for their creative little minds (“If a fox came along and ate two of the eggs….”).
If you’re interested in spending more time around chickens or other farm animals, there are plenty of places in and around Missoula to do so. The PEAS Farm, in the Rattlesnake, has chickens and pigs and is open to the public. It’s a great place for a low-key self-guided farm visit. Hawthorne Farm, on Miller Creek, has a bunch of farm animals, including bees (and some kid-sized beekeeping costumes to try on). Contact them first about coming for a visit, and bring along some cash for honey or eggs! If you’re looking to go a bit farther afield, a trip to the Wild Rose Emu Ranch in Hamilton is well worth the drive. These birds are fascinating, and kids can see the emus at every stage of life, from the turquoise eggs to the giant adult birds. Call first to arrange a visit.
Any other local farms you like to visit? Leave a note in the comments!