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HOMESCHOOLING RESOURCES: September is National Chicken Month!

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Homeschooling Resources: September is

National Chicken Month!

Homeschooling resource queen Rebecca Rupp makes sure you won’t run out of fun, educational reading and activities during September, National Chicken Month.


By Rebecca Rupp

Tillie, of Terry Golson’s Tillie Lays an Egg (Scholastic, 2009) lives with six other hens in the henhouse in the backyard of Little Pond Farm. The other hens cooperatively lay their eggs in nesting boxes, but Tillie prefers the garden, the porch, the kitchen, the laundry basket, and the pickup truck. Color photographs follow the unpredictable Tillie around the farm. Think hide-and-seek, with a chicken. For ages 3-7.

In John Himmelman’s hysterical Chickens to the Rescue (Henry Holt and Company, 2006), daily disasters – for example, when Farmer Greenstalk drops his watch down the well, Mrs. Greenstalk is too tired to cook dinner, or a duck steals the family truck – are expeditiously dealt with by a frenetic flock of chickens, who promptly rally round to the refrain of “Chickens to the rescue!” Except on Sunday, that is, the chickens’ day of rest, when it’s over to the pigs. Sequels include Pigs to the Rescue and Cows to the Rescue. For ages 3-6.

Chicken Takes a Walk

In Pat Hutchins’s Rosie’s Walk (Aladdin, 1971), Rosie – a red-and-yellow chicken – emerges from her coop and goes on a walk, oblivious to a pursuing fox whom she blithely causes to step on a rake, fall into a pond, and careen into a beehive. Finally, still happily clueless, she returns to her coop, just in time for dinner. For ages 3-6.

Extension activities for Rosie’s Walk, among them making sequencing cards and designing an obstacle course, can be found at

In David Ezra Stein’s Interrupting Chicken (Candlewick, 2010), a patient father rooster (in spectacles and carpet slippers) tucks his offspring, a little red chicken, into bed and attempts to read a bedtime story – only to be continually interrupted by his daughter, who can’t bear the suspense. “Out jumped a little red chicken,” she cries, as her father reads Hansel and Gretel, “and she said ‘DON’T GO IN! SHE’S A WITCH!’ So Hansel and Gretel didn’t. THE END!” Finally she embarks on a story of her own, only to be interrupted by her tired father’s snores. For ages 3-7.

See also Homeschooling Resources: Mars!

What better way to learn the months of the year than with Maurice Sendak’s Chicken Soup with Rice (HarperCollins, 1991)? (“In January it’s so nice/While slipping on the sliding ice/To sip hot chicken soup with rice.”) For ages 2-7.

A recipe for a yummy batch of chicken soup with rice can be found on the Food Network at (Sip it once, twice, as you read.)

In Eric Carle’s Rooster’s Off to See the World (Aladdin, 1999), a gorgeous paper-collage rooster sets out to travel, picking up along the way two cats, three frogs, four turtles, and five fish. Soon, however, it turns out that Rooster hasn’t planned for the trip – there’s no food and everyone is getting cold – so one by one they all desert, and even Rooster eventually turns around and heads for home. It’s a running-away story for everybody who never got farther than the end of the driveway. For ages 3-6.

From Scholastic, Rooster’s Off to See the World Lesson Plan at is a hands-on rooster-based exercise in addition and subtraction.

Chicken Little

There are many available versions of the story of Chicken Little, also known as Chicken Licken or Henny Penny. In all, the main character – irrationally convinced that the sky is falling – convinces a lot of other animal characters to run for their lives. Classically, many of them end up eaten by a cagey fox.  For the tender-hearted, however, see Rebecca Emberley’s Chicken Little (Roaring Brook Press, 2009), in which the googly-eyed Chicken Little (“not the brightest chicken in the coop”) is bonked by an acorn, thinks the sky is falling, and leads a troop of equally silly friends into a “warm dark cave” – a fox’s mouth. This version ends with a miraculous escape. For ages 3-7.

Similarly, there are many picture-book versions of the traditional tale of the Little Red Hen. In Paul Galdone’s Little Red Hen (Houghton Mifflin, 2011), hen, cat, dog, and mouse are roommates; and cat, dog, and mouse slothfully sleep on the couch all day while hen does the work of wheat-planting, harvesting, grinding, and cake-baking all by herself. At the end, she also eats the cake all by herself, thus providing an object lesson on the benefits of pitching in to do chores. My kids’ response: “Well, why didn’t she tell them that they wouldn’t get any cake if they didn’t help out?” Good question. For ages 3-6.

In Philemon Sturges’s The Little Red Hen (Makes a Pizza) (Puffin, 2002), the hen, refused help by the duck, dog, and cat, goes to the store for pizza supplies and finally manages to make a pizza – which she shares, since duck, dog, and cat offer to clean up and do the dishes. The colorful cut-paper illustrations are filled with hilarious details: the duck wears a rubber-turtle inner tube and a bathing cap; the hen has a pair of bunny slippers on her clothesline and a can of worms in her cupboard. For ages 4-8.

For activities to accompany The Little Red Hen (Makes a Pizza), including making both artistic paper-collage pizzas and real edible pizzas, see

In Keith Graves’s Chicken Big (Chronicle Books, 2010), set on a teeny little farm populated by very small hens, a simply enormous egg hatches out a humongous yellow chick. “It’s an elephant!” squawks the smallest chicken. “Indoor elephants are dangerous!” The story has wacky elements of “Chicken Little” and “The Blind Men and the Elephant,” and a warm charm all its own, as eventually the patient, kindly, and gigantic chick convinces his freaky flock that he is indeed a chicken. For ages 4-8.

In Mary Amato’s The Chicken of the Family (Putnam Juvenile Books, 2008), Henrietta’s teasing big sisters Kim and Clare tell her a secret – she’s really a chicken. (“Mom got you from Barney’s farm.”) Henrietta, upset, is finally convinced, and heads off for Barney’s farm – where she finds that the chickens are much nicer to her than her big sisters are. Now Kim and Clare are hard put to persuade Henrietta that she’s a little girl again. Funny, charming, and there’s a lesson here about the perils of teasing. (Younger siblings especially will love it.) For ages 4-8.

For a Chicken of the Family Reader’s Theater script (five characters plus any number of supporting chickens), see

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road? (Dial, 2006), a collaboration by fourteen talented artists, is a marvelous collection of unexpected illustrated answers to the classic joke. Harry Bliss’s frantic chicken flees invading zombie chickens from Mars; Jon Agee’s chicken (and the rest of the city) flee Godzilla-like lizards; Mo Willems’s harried chicken confesses his crime to the police; and Jerry Pinkney’s Little Red Hen heads for a tea party. Readers are bound to come up with creative alternative answers (and chickens) of their own. For ages 5-9.

Maya Angelou’s My Painted House, My Friendly Chicken, and Me (Crown Books for Young Readers, 2003), illustrated with color photographs, is the story of eight-year-old Thandi who lives in a Ndebele village in South Africa. Thandi describes village life and culture to the reader (her “stranger-friend”), concentrating on the things she particularly loves – the brightly painted houses of the villagers, her mother’s beautiful beadwork, and the chicken who is her best friend. For ages 6-10.

Sarah Ryder’s Teaching Ideas of Social Justice Using Children’s Literature at has a template and instructions for making model painted houses like those shown in My Painted House, My Friendly Chicken, and Me.

Colorful Clucking Chickens at is a papercraft-and-pipecleaner project for elementary-level kids. Make a cool flock of colorful chickens.

In Daniel Pinkwater’s hilarious The Hoboken Chicken Emergency (Aladdin, 2007), Arthur Bobowicz is dispatched to fetch the family Thanksgiving turkey, but returns home instead with Henrietta, a colossal 266-pound chicken on a leash – who escapes and wreaks havoc. For ages 7-11.

See for a lesson plan to accompany The Hoboken Chicken Emergency, with chapter-by-chapter discussion questions, vocabulary lists, and activities.

Gail Gibbons’s Chicks and Chickens (Holiday House, 2005) is an attractively illustrated picture-book introduction to chicken biology and behavior, variously covering egg-laying, embryo development and hatching, the characteristics of chicks, hens, and roosters, and a survey of chicken breeds. For ages 5-8.

Amy Sklansky’s Where Do Chicks Come From? (HarperCollins, 2005) in the extensive Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science series covers the anatomy of the egg and (day by day) the three-week-long development of a chick. For ages 4-8.

Watch baby chicks hatching in this short video from Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry at

Chickscope at has a detailed account of the 21-day chick developmental process. Included for each day are diagrams, photographs, explanations, and related math and science projects.

Paleontologist Chris McGowan’s Make Your Own Dinosaur Out of Chicken Bones (HarperPerennial, 1997) has a lot of interesting dinosaur information and complete instructions for making your own chicken-bone Apatosaurus. You’ll need three chickens, boiled. A great family project. For ages 9 and up, with help.

For many more resources on chickens – including instructions for making a Chicken Mummy, a James Thurber Chicken-Little story, and the latest answer to the question of which came first, the chicken or the egg – check out CHICKENS, CHICKS, AND LITTLE RED HENS at


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