SPRINGBANK - Springbank Community High School’s learning support teacher Larissa MacMillan thought caring for duck eggs would be good for her students to learn about the life cycle portion of their science curriculum.
But what MacMillan wasn’t anticipating was the close relationships that would form between her students and others in the school.
This spring, students in the life skills program at Springbank Community High School had the opportunity to watch over and care for duck eggs throughout the course of a month. After 28 days, most of the ducklings had hatched and have now been moved to a farm as they continue to grow.
Having just six students in her class, MacMillan said she is always looking for ways to include her students in activities throughout the school. She said one of the unexpected benefits was new student interactions.
“I'm always looking for ways for my kids to be included in the building,” she said. “I had so many kids come into my room that would have never been in my room before and hang out with my students [and] talk to them about the ducks.”
Noticing the social benefits the eggs brought into the lives of her students, MacMillan said it was a great lesson on empathy. She added her students have become more visible to others in the school.
Not only did the eggs provide educational benefits, but MacMillan said it has been a unifying source for everyone.
“They're engaging with some kids that they wouldn't normally engage with, that have some pretty complex needs,” MacMillan said.
According to MacMillan, having the students care for the eggs and recognize that animals need a special level of care was significant.
MacMillan also noted the therapeutic effects the eggs brought to students in the school. She said some students who struggle with anxiety spent over a week in her classroom tending to the eggs and hanging out with the ducklings.
MacMillan said her students loved having the eggs in her classroom. She said that one student in particular developed a sense of ownership over the eggs. MacMillan added she began to see the student’s confidence grow as they shared details about the eggs with their peers.
Looking ahead at the 2023-24 school year, MacMillan said that she plans to hatch more eggs due to the success they saw with the project this year.
“I will do it again, because it was so good,” Macmillan said.