To learn about eggs and observe and describe changes in a variety of simple activities involving eggs.
This lesson makes use of a book called An Egg Is Quiet by Dianna Aston (Chronicle, 2006). This book was one of the winners of the 2007 AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books (you can read about this prize at: Book Award). It pairs images of dozens of precisely detailed eggs and their diverse wild parents to basic facts about eggs.
Eggs are important. They are important in our diets for providing nutrition for us and the developing chick (excellent source of protein, iron, and phosphorous; yolk-rich source of Vitamins A, D, and B [little or no C]). They are used in baking and cooking for taste, color, and nutritional value. They are used in many foods (cakes, donuts, egg noodles); agriculture and farming (fertilizers, animal feed, egg farming—mainly in the Midwest); and they are important from a biological standpoint (eggs of amphibians and fish are soft and jelly-like and must be laid in water; eggs of reptiles and birds have hard shells and can be laid on land).
Students at this grade level should learn the following concepts about eggs:
- A fresh egg has a plump round yolk with a white that is clearly layered and spreading. The yolk of an egg one week old is flatter and it’s white and even in texture and contained shape.
- To test for freshness, drop the egg in a glass of water. A fresh egg sits straight up on the bottom. A week-old egg lists to one side. A stale one floats vertically.
For more resources about eggs or ideas about more egg-related activities, you can consult the Resources about Eggs teacher sheet.
Before reading the book with students, ask this question: “Have you ever found an egg on the ground or seen an egg in a nest? If so, describe what it looked like. Think about the shape, the color, and the markings.” Record student answers.
Now, read An Egg Is Quiet aloud to your class. Once you have finished reading the book with your class, ask them:
- What do you think about the title of the book or the statement ”An egg is quiet”? (Answers will vary.)
- What are some of the other traits of eggs that are described in the book? (Eggs are colorful, shapely, clever, come in different sizes, artistic, textured, and giving.)
- Why is an egg important to the animal inside it? (An egg protects the animal, provides it with food, and cushions it.)
- What else did you learn about eggs from this book? (Answers will vary.)
Record student answers. Is there a common thread among the responses?
Now play the podcast interview with An Egg Is Quiet author Dianna Aston. Discuss the podcast with the students. Did the podcast answer the above questions?
Then, ask these questions:
- The book tells us it takes chicks 21 days to hatch. How do you think it would feel to hatch? Imagine yourself inside a shell. Feel the shell all around you. Show me with your body how you would break out of the shell.
- Look at the double-spread illustration called “An egg is colorful.” How many eggs are there? Which eggs have the prettiest markings or designs? Why?
- The book tells us that eggs often have colors and markings that match their surroundings. Why?
Answers will vary. Encourage students to explain their responses.
In this part of the lesson, students will learn more about eggs by conducting research about eggs and by observing them.
Start by asking students to think about the animals they know or have learned about. Make a list of the students’ answers on the blackboard or on a flip chart. Ask them if they know whether or not those animals lay eggs. Tell them that they can conduct some research to find out.
Assign one animal to each student. Provide students with the Animals and Eggs student sheet. They should use this sheet to get more information about the animal they've been assigned. Students can research their animals in the library media center or they can make use of books in the classroom.
Once students have finished this activity, hold a class discussion to go over what they learned about their animals. Then, ask them this question:
- Eggs come in many different sizes and shapes and colors. Can you think of other eggs that are not in the Egg is Quiet book or that you have not studied?
Now show students the collection of eggs that you have brought in, being sure that all of the eggs are labeled. Allow all of the students to look at the different eggs. Then, depending on the number of eggs you have, divide your class into groups and provide each group with at least two eggs. Provide students with the Egg Comparison student sheet. Ask students to compare and contrast the eggs by doing the following:
- Draw and color the egg(s).
- Compare the eggs in terms of their size, shape, and color.
- Ask students: “What do you conclude?” (Typical answers will include: Usually the bigger the animal the bigger the egg. Some eggs are hard while some are soft. Eggs come in different colors.)
To assess student learning in this lesson, discuss what they observed in each of the activities. Also, ask students these questions:
- How are eggs from the same animal different? (For example, different chickens lay white or brown eggs and they can vary in size. Bring in egg cartons that state the size of the egg: medium, large, extra large, etc.)
- Why are eggs important for the animal inside them? (An egg gives the animal inside it everything it needs to grow and survive.)
- Do all eggs look the same? Describe some of the eggs you saw in the book and here in the classroom. (Answers will vary.)
- What else can you tell me about eggs? (Answers will vary.)
The Science of Cooking: Eggs is an Exploratorium site that explores recipes, activities, and the science involving eggs. There are four main topics: Kitchen Lab, Science of Eggs, Share and Discuss, and Visit a Farm.
Eggs: A Virtual Exhibit showcases eggs of the world with a special emphasis on the eggs of Alberta. The Royal Alberta Museum hosts one of the most extensive egg collections in North America. The site has an online field guide with over 300 egg images as well as information on egg biology and a touch of egg trivia.
Between the Lions: An Egg Is Quiet is an audio and video presentation of the book.
You could help students explore how eggs are used in art by showing them the Learn Pysanky or site. Pysanky is derived from a Ukrainian word meaning "to write." Pysanky are eggs (either whole raw eggs, or hollow) which have been decorated with a wax-resist method where one draws (or "writes," as Ukrainians would say) those portions of the design which one wants to remain the color underneath the wax.
You and your students could try this art form in class. The simpler the designs the shorter the amount of time needed. Students who work in groups will require less than if all students decorate an egg.
The story of the White House Easter Egg Roll, which begins at one end of Pennsylvania Avenue and continues at the other, is one of the oldest and most unique traditions in presidential history. Rolling eggs on the Monday after Easter was a tradition observed by many Washington families, including those of the President. Some historians believe Dolly Madison first suggested the idea of a public egg roll, while others tell stories of informal egg-rolling parties at the White House during President Lincoln's day.