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The Odd Egg

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By Hilary White

The picture book, The Odd Egg, makes a great starting point for lots of different activities about birds and eggs.

The Odd Egg

The Odd Egg by Emily Gravett (Macmillan) is a beautifully illustrated picture book that tells the story of Duck and the odd egg of the title. All the other birds have laid eggs except for Duck. Feeling rather left out, he is delighted when he discovers ‘the most beautiful egg in the whole wide world’ and decides to adopt it. The other birds are rather rude about the egg, but Duck has the last laugh when his egg finally hatches. Apart from being great fun to share with your children, The Odd Egg makes a great starting point for lots of different activities. Try the following …


Matching birds and eggs

Look at the eggs in The Odd Egg and draw the children’s attention to their different colours and sizes. Why is Duck’s ‘odd egg’ different from the rest? Make bird pictures with the children using wax crayons for bright colours, coloured chalks for soft colours, glitter and patterned paper pieces for collage.

Let the children create their own fantasy birds, encouraging them to think about size, colour and pattern. For example, they might choose to create a small green bird with spotty wings, a big chubby rainbow-coloured bird with a glittery tail or a tall thin red and pink bird with a striped body.

Look at the size of the birds and draw some corresponding egg shapes – a big chubby egg to go with the big chubby bird, a long thin egg to go with the tall thin bird, and so on. Help each child to decorate a corresponding egg shape in colours and patterns to match their bird.

Cut out the birds and eggs, ask the children to help you match each bird with its egg and stick them onto background paper to make a frieze for the setting. Introduce lots of appropriate language as you talk about the activity – this is the same colour / the patterns on this bird match the patterns on the egg / this bird is big and green – can you find the big green egg?


Eggshell

Exploring eggs

Look at the pictures of the eggs cracking and the baby birds hatching out of the eggs in The Odd Egg. Look at how the birds sit on their eggs to keep them warm so the baby birds can grow inside the eggs. Explore eggs with the children:
  • Crack open a hen’s egg so you can look at the egg shell, the membrane, the yolk and the white. Separate the yolk and white and explain to the children that the yolk grows into the baby bird while the white provides the food for the baby bird before it hatches. Let the children sniff and touch the egg shell, yolk and white, but make sure hands are well washed afterwards. Talk about the different colours, shapes and textures of the egg, and come up with some texture words such as sticky, gloopy, thick, crunchy. Why do the children think the ‘white’ is given that name when it is actually colourless?
  • Try to get hold of different coloured hen’s eggs (white, brown, speckled, pale blue) for the children to look at. Compare the sizes of the eggs and, if possible, show the children other eggs such as a duck’s egg and a quail’s egg.
  • Try some different egg recipes, aiming to use the eggs in different ways; for example, a boiled egg, a poached egg, scrambled egg, an omelette and meringue. Compare the difference between a raw egg and a boiled egg. Look at what happens if you boil the egg for three minutes and for ten minutes. Study what happens to the raw egg white when you whisk it, and when you cook it. Show the children how the sticky whisked egg white stays in the bowl when you turn it upside down.
  • With the children, make a circular ‘life cycle’ poster of a hen, showing the hen laying an egg, sitting on the egg, the egg hatching into a chick and the chick growing into a hen.


Eggshell collage

Broken eggshells make an unusual and effective material for collage – and collage is a great way to recycle eggshells, rather than throwing them away. Ask parents and friends to save their eggshells so that you have plenty. Wash the eggshells thoroughly in hot soapy water. Once they are dry, help the children to break the egg shells into smaller pieces. Pour different coloured paint into plastic boxes and show the children how to stir the egg shells into the paint, using a paint brush. Spread the painty eggshells on a non-stick surface to dry. Once the paint is bone dry, brush a thick layer of PVA glue across card and stick on the shells to make a colourful textured pattern. Add glitter for sparkle.

For a more natural look, leave the eggshells uncoloured and add items such as pressed leaves, feathers, small flat stones, sand (use like glitter) and twigs. Older children can be encouraged to plan their design, choosing particular colours, or painting their background card with one colour and sticking on eggshells in complementary or clashing colours.

Safety note: wash all eggs and eggshells thoroughly and double-check for allergies before using in any activities with the children.

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