Question of the Week: What kind of creatures lay eggs? (We want kids to really get that it’s not just birds!)
There are so many cool things you can do related to eggs. Below, you’ll find an engineering activity – egg drop challenge; science activities – sorting, making naked eggs, and discovering what hatches from eggs; crafts – making a paper creature hatching from an egg, egg shakers, plastic egg animals with nests, or colored eggs; motor activities – egg roll, egg balancing towers and the chicken dance; outdoor activities – egg hunt and egg toss; sensory activity – ice eggs; snack ideas; non-fiction and fiction books; and a 20 questions game.
Egg drop challenge
The ultimate goal is to create a container that they can put a raw egg in and drop it from several feet and not have the egg break. For container, we offer quart-sized ziplock bags, and lots of soft packing materials. (I’ve got more details on the egg drop challenge here.) The kids first use a tester egg – a plastic egg with a rubber bouncy ball inside. Then, if successful, they graduate up to a hard-boiled egg. Then, up to a raw egg. This is a great engineering challenge with lots of practice at testing, tweaking, and re-testing.
I created a PDF with photos taken from the ZooBorns website (I do not have copyright to these images) and printed them so on the back of each picture, there was either an egg, or an egg with a circle/slash through it. Sort them into two piles – “Hatched from an Egg” and “Live Born (did not hatch from an egg)”.
Make Naked Eggs
If you place a raw egg in vinegar and leave it soaking for two to three days, the vinegar dissolves the egg shell, leaving you with a “naked egg” – a strange slightly bouncy, shell-free egg. Learn more about how to make naked eggs.
In this video sample, you can see what a naked egg looks like.
If you have plastic eggs, and you have plastic animals, you can make a fun activity that appeals to toddlers to lower elementary. Fill the plastic eggs with a variety of animals that hatch from eggs, including insects, amphibians, fish, and reptiles.
Arts and Crafts
Make a Hatching Animal
Here is a free printable activity. (Or if you don’t have a printer, these are easy to free hand draw.) Kids choose an animal, cut it out and color it. Then they cut out a paper egg, cut it in half, join the halves together with a brad (paper fastener). Put a line of glue just along the bottom edge of the bottom half of the egg, and glue it to the cardstock. This makes a “pocket” to tuck the animal into. The top half opens and closes to reveal or hide the animal. (Idea sources: 1, 2, 3)
Egg shaker instruments
You can fill plastic eggs with dried beans, rice, pasta and so on. Tape them closed with washi tape or masking tape, or use a hot glue gun to seal them. Decorate with Sharpies or small foam stickers.
Plastic egg animals and nests
Put out plastic eggs, felt, glue, feathers, and googly eyes. They make whatever animal they want, ideally one that hatches from an egg, for science learning, but really, you can let them do whatever they want.
Make a nest for the egg animal by taking a paper lunch bag, tearing off the top few inches of the bag, then rolling the top down. Fill it with shredded paper or other soft materials to nest the egg into.
Art Process: Gelatin eggs
Make clear gelatin in egg-shaped molds (or any shape). Put out with pipettes, liquid water color. Kids insert the pipette to make a hole, pull it out a little, then squirt in color. Ideas from: www.two-daloo.com/sensory-art-play-colorful-gelatin-castles/ and http://myiearlychildhoodreflections.blogspot.com/2012/01/why-is-there-gelatin-in-sensory-table.html
We don’t do this in class, because we’re a secular class with people from a wide variety of ethnic and religious backgrounds, and this activity is very closely associated with Easter. However, there are LOTS of great ways to color eggs, and they’re lots of fun to explore. If you ever make hard-boiled eggs to eat, you may as well decorate them! You can marble them with shaving cream, melted crayon Easter eggs, tissue paper dyed eggs, wax resist eggs, and many more.
You could also make ziplock bags of colored rice that you could add an egg to and kids squish the egg around in the rice till it is colored – even toddlers can do this without making a mess! After we did this, I dried the colored rice, and that’s what we used inside our egg shakers.
You can use pipettes to drip liquid watercolor onto eggs. Put the eggs on a metal drying rack so the paint will drip through and not pool underneath (and set the drying rack on a cookie sheet or tray to catch the excess paint!) Mix 3 parts watercolor with one part vinegar (to increase the color-fastness of the paint). Use pipettes to drip it on. These take 15 – 30 minutes to dry.
Large Motor Play
Egg Roll Race
Using cardboard “gutters”, roll a ball down the gutter, or roll a hard-boiled egg down, roll “wobbly eggs” down. Which rolls furthest? Which rolls smoothest? (Idea source.)
We made wobbly eggs for this: open a plastic Easter egg, glue one small rock inside, glue closed. Older kids and adults found these interesting, because they rolled in unexpected ways. For example, with one, no matter what position you set it down in, it would pop up on one end. (like a Weeble.)
Amusingly, little kids don’t find this intriguing at all – they don’t have any sense of how eggs “should” roll, so they don’t notice that the eggs are behaving oddly!
For more big motor play, you can also put out spoons for a “carry the egg in a spoon” game.
Egg Balancing Towers
Frugal Fun had a fun idea: take a cardboard box, mount sturdy straws, dowels or pencils standing upright, and put out with a collection of plastic eggs (I like using different sizes of eggs – in the picture, you’ll notice a small orange egg hiding under a big red flat bottomed “egg”). Kids try to stack as many eggs on each pencil as they can.
Play the music and have the children do the classic dance: Make a “beak” with your hand, and make it “talk” 4 times. Flap arms like wings four times, wiggle bottom four times, clap Four times. (see movements here)
You could easily do an egg hunt. Kids LOVE to do egg hunts. They’re usually happy to do them over and over and over, as many times as you want to hide the eggs. Learn more about the joys of egg hunts and all the things kids learn by doing them
Have an egg toss in the yard. Two people stand about 3 feet apart. Take an egg, carefully pass from one to the other. Take a step back, gently toss and catch. Take another step back, toss and catch, and so on. If you’re playing on grass, and have a dog that’s happy to clean up raw egg, you can play with a raw egg. If you have to play on a harder surface, or don’t want to clean up goo, you may want to use hard-boiled eggs.
Fill balloons with water. Freeze. Then cut off the balloons, and they look like ice eggs. Put out with salt and colored water to melt them. Option: before freezing, add small plastic animals (that would hatch from eggs) inside the balloons – those will be trapped in the ice, and then kids will have fun working to free them.
Any time you’re working with eggs in the kitchen is a great time to study egg science – talk about the shells, show the egg white and the egg yolk, talk about how the egg changes as it cooks, and so on.
I think meringue cookies would be a great snack project. Learn more: www.livescience.com/44419-egg-science-experiments.html
Making homemade mayonnaise with egg is also a fascinating experience with the science of emulsion.
Academic Skills with Eggs
If you search online, you’ll find lots of ways that parents and teachers have re-purposed plastic eggs for pattern matching of mix and match eggs, making word family plastic eggs – http://mamateaches.com/word-family-eggs/. I think I’ve seen math problems on eggs, and you could pair up halves of toy eggs so that their facial expressions match.
Songs and Rhymes
Say: Make a noise like a rooster. (Crow) Make a noise like a hen. (Cluck) Make a noise like a chick. (Peep) Make a noise like an unhatched egg. (Silence) Good! And now you’re ready to listen! (From Storytime Planners.)
Song: I’m a little chick – tune of I’m a Little Teapot.
Inspired by 3 songs on http://jeninthelibrary.com/tag/eggs/
I’m a little chickie, (crouch down inside your egg) Ready to hatch,
Pecking at my shell, (Pecking motion) Peck, peck, scratch! (scratching motion)
When I crack it open, Out I’ll leap. (Pop Up)
I’ll spread my wings (hands in armpits and flap) And cheep, cheep, cheep.
Song: I Love Eggs (Tune: Frere Jacques) – (from: Storytime Source Page) I love eggs, I love eggs. Yum, yum, yum ; Yum, yum, yum. Scrambled, boiled or fried, any way I’ve tried. Yum, yum, yum ; Yum, yum, yum
Song: If You Like Your Eggs Scrambled (Tune: Happy & You Know It) (Storytime Source Page) If you like your eggs scrambled, clap your hands If you like your eggs scrambled, clap your hands Yes, they’re yummy and they’re yellow So you’ll be a happy fellow If you like your eggs scrambled, clap your hands. If you like your eggs fried, jump up high… If you want bacon with your eggs, wiggle your legs… If you want toast instead, nod your head (Mmm-hmm)…
Lift the Flap: I printed out a poster with ten pictures on it, and covered each picture with a post it note, then shared this rhyme, which is adapted from one that Jen in the Library says came from Preschool Favorites by Diane Briggs. I changed a few verses, because I wanted to include more non-bird oviparous animals.
There are ten little eggs / And what do we see / They’re about to crack open / “My goodness me,” said Mother Hen.
The first egg cracks open. And what do we see? It’s a fuzzy, little duckling, looking at me.
The second egg cracks open. And what do we see? It’s a pretty little robin, looking at me.
The third egg cracks open And what do we see It’s a long-necked ostrich Looking at me.
The fourth egg cracks open And what do we see It’s a hungry caterpillar Looking at me.
The fifth egg cracks open And what do we see An orange &white clownfish Looking at me.
The sixth egg cracks open And what do we see It’s a snappy alligator Looking at me.
The seventh egg cracks open And what do we see It’s a wiggly tadpole Looking at me.
The eighth egg cracks open And what do we see It’s a duck-billed platypus Looking at me.
The ninth egg cracks open And what do we see It’s a little green dinosaur Looking at me.
The tenth egg cracks open And what do we see It’s a little yellow chicken Looking at me.
“My baby!” said the mother hen, as happy as can be.
“Mommy!” said the chick. “Did you meet all my sisters and brothers?” “What!” shrieked Mother Hen, “My goodness me.”
(My poster is here… some of these images are copyrighted, so you should consider making your own poster. This poster is 11 x 17, which is best, because the pictures are very easily covered by a standard size post-it, without them overlapping. This poster is 8.5 x 11, in case that’s all you can print, but you’ll probably have to lay the post-its on in reverse order, from the 10th first, down to #1 so that you uncover them in order.)
About all the different animals that lay eggs.
- Guess What Is Growing Inside This Egg – (YouTube or YouTube1) “Their mother crawled from sea to land to bury these soft eggs in the sand. Can you guess what is growing inside these eggs? Sea turtles!” The reveal pages also have a paragraph of detailed info about that creature which 5 – 7 year olds might enjoy reading after circle. Age 4 – 7.
- What Will Hatch? (YouTube, YouTube with yoga poses) “Jelly, jiggly. What will hatch? Wiggly, squiggly tadpole.”
- A teacher in my class recommended a lift-the-flap book called Something is Coming. Here’s a YouTube reading.
- An Egg Is Quiet. (YouTube) Gorgeous naturalistic illustrations! Illustrates at least 100 different eggs, mostly at actual size, including birds, fish, insects and amphibians. Ends with illustrations of many of the creatures that hatch from eggs. “An egg is quiet. It sits there, under its mother’s feathers… on top of its fathers feet… buried beneath the sand. Warm. Cozy. An egg is colorful…” Beautiful and informative. Pictures great for any age – text is best for age 5 – 8.
- Chickens Aren’t the Only Ones. (YouTube) “Chickens aren’t the only ones. Most snakes lay eggs, and lizards too, and crocodiles and turtles do and dinosaurs who are extinct, but they were reptiles too.”
Read one of many great books about someone finding an egg with a mysterious occupant and the process of waiting for it to hatch or other silly stories about eggs – there’s a lot of them! Some options:
- The Odd Egg. (YouTube) All the other birds have laid an egg except Duck. (The observant reader will notice it’s a male duck by its coloring.) Duck finds a very large egg he claims for his own, and waits for it to hatch. This is a very fun read-aloud, and the graphic design is really interesting.
- The Chick That Wouldn’t Hatch. (YouTube) There are 6 eggs in a nest. 5 chicks hatch. The other egg goes for a long roll through the barnyard, past the pond, over the ditch, with lots of animals chasing it. Then it finally hatches. A silly book that kids age 3 – 6 enjoy. Includes an idea for a craft at the end.
- The Cow That Laid an Egg. (YouTube) Marjorie the cow doesn’t feel special because she can’t ride bicycles and do handstands like all the other cows. The chickens hide a cow-spotted egg near her and say she’s laid an egg. Everyone is astonished. Eventually the egg hatches into a chick…. that says MOO!!
- An Extraordinary Egg. (YouTube) Too long for circle if you have kids under age 5, but it’s a fun story of an adventurous and curious frog who finds an egg. The other frogs declare it to be a chicken egg, and they continue to call it a chicken even after the animal hatches and has four legs and swims very well. They continue to think it’s a chicken even when its real mother refers to it as her “sweet little alligator.” Kids four and under will be confused by this book when they see pictures of an alligator and everyone calls it a chicken. A five or six year old understands the absurdity.
Even More Activities!
- Egg Geodes: use rock salt, sea salt, or borax and egg shells to make these pretty science experiments we tried with our crystallization experiments.
- For an engineering class, you could use egg shells as domes and stack heavy objects on them to show how strong they are: www.science-sparks.com/2011/09/01/how-strong-is-an-eggshell/
- You could walk on eggshells: http://www.stevespanglerscience.com/lab/experiments/walking-on-eggshells/
- Could have children build nests of twigs, mud, etc. (or playdough and popsicle sticks)
- Egg Sink or Float: Put a hard-boiled egg in water. It sinks. Add lots of salt to the water – it floats: http://www.planet-science.com/categories/under-11s/chemistry-chaos/2012/01/can-you-make-an-egg-float.aspx
20 questions game:
You think of an animal, and kid(s) guess what you are thinking of. (Read this post to learn all about what kids learn by playing guessing games, and how to start teaching them to little ones.) We used our animal classification posters to suggest the best questions to ask first: does it hatch from an egg, or is it born live? How many legs does it have? What kind of skin does it have? Can it live in the water? Can it fly?
Egg Trivia – Mostly for Grown-Ups: I just learned some fascinating new things about how birds hatch. A common story is that chicks hatch because they run out of food and they run out of room in the egg. Here’s what actually happens (written by Joy Berry): “A chick near to hatching is not starving. It is fuller than it’s ever been. The chick has just absorbed the yolk fully into its abdomen, and that yolk is all the food it needs for 2 – 3 days after it is fully hatched. That fullness increases the chick’s total body mass, but it isn’t ever too big for the egg. In fact, it only develops in about 75 – 80% of the egg’s capacity, because the egg itself has a built in extra portion, a room that doesn’t get opened till the end of incubation. It is the air sac, and the chick’s body gets big enough as it absorbs yolk to piece that membrane with its perfectly evolved egg tooth (a sharp little point on its beak that disappears after hatching) and then it starts breathing the air the egg has absorbed through the shell into that space. This puffs it up even more. As it’s getting “inspired” by breathing air and filling its lungs, it is getting bigger and also having room to kick down, against the bottom of the shell. And that air it is breathing means it can do something else for the first time…. PEEP. The headroom in the air sac means it can begin to peck at the inside of the shell, pipping a tiny air hole (more fresh air!) and then zipping all the way round. When that process happens, mama and it and the other chicks are talking to each other all during the hatch, from inside and outside the shell. Its hard work is often assisted by the mother hens and sometimes hatch mates, pecking at the openings to make it bigger and “talking” to one another and encouraging them.” After I learned that, I also found this great article on how animals breathe inside eggs, and how their chorioallantoic membrane and allantois relates to a mammal umbilical cord and placenta…. check it out: www.theguardian.com/science/2015/mar/29/how-does-chick-breathe-in-egg-allantois
A video… just for the goofiness of it: Check out this trifle.