First on the list... Chickens!!!
After lots of research, visiting farms, talking to other chicken owners we got 5 pullets (baby female hens.)
We named them after "The Little Women," and got on with the business of taking care of them. That was almost 4 years ago and our "Little Women," have made many students with special needs really excited to meet them up close and in person.
The Ladies all Grown up enjoy free ranging around the yard.
There is something so humbling about opening the door to the nesting box and receiving the gift of all these beautiful colored eggs. Thank you ladies.
When the chicks were little we began introducing them to our other pets in a safe
and controlled environment. We wanted them to get used to being handled
and hand feed.
Building a coop was a family affair. We talked with the neighbors first to make sure they were comfortable with a chicken coop in our yard. They have been so supportive they actually have feeders and allow the ladies to visit with their 92 year old mother who is house bound. She sits at her window and waits for them to wander over and watches them as the peck and feed from the feeders placed outside of her window.
"Josephine" is the busy body of the group.
Lots of Love
This interaction took place during "Field Day" at The Maryland School for the Blind. One of the Elementary School Teachers used to send in an empty egg carton for me to fill. When I brought it back to work, I would e-mail her and tell her her eggs were ready. This student used to practice his "Orientation and Mobility" skills and travel to my office to pick up the eggs for his teacher. He would then return to my office and return the empty carton. On field day, we had many of our animals in stations that represented the sights sounds, smells, textures, tools, and jobs of "Working Down on the Farm." We had a station with 20 new baby chicks. This student asked me, "Are these the chicks that lay the eggs?" I replied no and pointed him in the direction of our very own "Little Red Hen," Miss Amelia. He went over and got to meet the chicken that laid the eggs that he was traveling to collect. His response, "Very Cool !"
Students with Visual Impairments do not have all of the same experiences that their peers with vision have. A person with sight experiences incidental learning just by being able to see the things that are around them. If a person with a visual impairment does not have those same experiences it is important to make every effort to create a teachable moment. The main reason we choose chickens for our AAT practice was the response of a 21 year old student with visual impairment when asked: "What do you get from a chicken?" she replied "nuggets." Because she had never experienced what a chicken felt like, what it's life cycle is, what it's habitat is, what it needs to survive, how to take care of a chicken etc... To have hands on first person experience is a valuable lesson and living science is very rewarding to say the least.