The arrival of spring brings flowers peeking out of the warming ground, green buds sprouting on oak and aspen trees and—at Minnetonka Public Schools—mallard ducklings.
As part of the life cycles curriculum, all first-grade students in the Minnetonka School District learn about the growth and development of ducklings by incubating eggs in the classroom and observing the hatching process. First-grade teacher Lisa Roddy explains, “In our hands-on research, we have the opportunity to monitor the temperature and humidity of the incubator, roll the eggs as the mother duck would, candle the eggs to check their development and finally celebrate the arrival of our new little friends as they break into the world and hatch.”
Once hatched, students can bring the ducklings home overnight and care for them. Reflecting on his experience as a first-grader, fourth-grade student Nathan Eisenmann recalls bringing home the ducklings as his favorite part. “It was really fun,” he says. “We had a tub filled with water and they could swim around in it. I gave them clean water, fed them and cleaned up their newspaper if it got messy.” Nathan’s brother Zach, in second grade, agrees, saying, “I liked watching them waddle around and play with each other.”
After a few weeks, the new mallard ducklings are brought to a local farm where they continue to grow throughout the summer and are released into the wild. Nathan and Zach’s mother Niki Eisenmann says, “It’s a really special experience for these kids.”