The Life Cycle of a Chicken RESEARCH Unit

Life Cycle of a Chicken Research for Primary Grades


We love learning all about life cycles in the primary grades! Students watch caterpillars form chrysalises and turn into butterflies as we learn about the Monarch butterfly life cycle. They explore the life cycle of plants as we grow, pollinate, and harvest the new seeds. What better way to end a school year than hatching chicks in our classroom?

Unit Introduction

To start, we always try to choose real scientific text and images over cutsier cartoon ones which is just as important when teaching about hatching chicks. This research unit is introduced as we provide four pictures of the life cycle of a chicken and simply ask the students “What’s happening?” This helps students get excited about our research. Students examine each picture and write what they think is happening on a sticky note.

This activity is a quick formative assessment to check students’ background knowledge. We hold brief discussions about their thinking and also draw predictions about what is happening inside the egg. In order for students to compare their learning later on, we keep these initial drawings. Over the next two weeks we will learn more about what is happening in each photo. They are always so excited for this!

  As we learn more about the chicken life cycle, we like to have the conversation, “What came first, the chicken or the egg?” but we never figure it out… Together we make an anchor chart of the lifecycle of a chicken using scientific images. Then, we do a fun cut-and-paste activity where students can decide which stage of the cycle to start with.  

Hen Research

Our research begins as we explore the hen stage. We add new vocabulary words we learn to our domain specific, or science vocabulary wall.     

Egg Research

In our next lesson we learn about the egg stage of the life cycle. By this point, our eggs have been in the incubator for eight days. The students draw what they think is inside the egg on Day 8. Together we read a text about the chicken egg. Then, we discuss the Chick Embryo Development chart.


Next, we watch this awesome video about the development of chicken embryos.

The students draw a second drawing of what is inside the eggs, then we compare it to their first drawings and the differences are pretty amazing! These drawings are hung throughout our classroom so we can refer back to them throughout the unit.

Hatchling Research

Next we move to studying the hatchling stage. First, we read a text about how the chicks hatch and answer text dependent questions together. If you want to learn more about text dependent questions, check out this article.  Then the students code their own copy of a text and define any words that are new to them.

Chick Research

Our last research activities are on the chick stage. After reading about chicks, our note sheets and vocabulary wall are finally complete.

For the final lesson, students write a literary nonfiction tab-book about the life cycle of a chicken. They used their note sheets and words from the vocabulary word wall to write their book. The results are simply amazing!

Our research unit finishes just in time for our eggs to hatch, and the student scientists are always in love!

We have created a helpful print or digital Chicken Lifecycle resource to supplement activities like these that you are already doing in your classroom.

After learning about the life cycle of chickens you can get your students doing independent research on chickens in minutes, with zero prep! 

How? With this self-directed CHICKENS learning quest that guides students through digital independent research activities about chickens. Students listen to or read the text, complete activities, watch video clips, write in response to learning, and submit answers to a quiz.

These independent activities can be completed in small groups, individually, or as a whole class. It’s up to you! Check out this self-directed learning quest that guides students through digital independent research activities about chickens.


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