Thursday, 28 January 2010


Magazine cover "Chicken Weekly" (only 2 Euros!!) created by me, via

Kelly viewing new additions to the menagerie with some interest

The photo below of Nikita and Chikita has been "Hockney-ised" courtesy of

Chickens Ruling The Roost
Everything is ready for them. Nesting boxes have been skilfully handmade as well as feeding trays and a perch.
I am a newbie chicken owner, so I will need to learn lots. This will be something real and tangible for me to investigate over the coming months. Articles such as the "Absolute Beginners'Guide to having Chickens" from have provided a wealth of helpful tips. Below is a list of some questions which are answered in
What is The Pecking Order?
What size house do I need for my chickens?
Will Chickens ruin my lovely Garden?
Will my Dog hurt the Chickens?

I have also come across a lovely site called which writes about all aspects of keeping chickens.

Top Chicken in the Pecking Order
Welcome to Norris. She is definitely already the top chicken in the pecking order. She is a Rhode Island Red. This is the most common type of laying chicken and they are said to be very robust. She has ventured out today and has already broken my nice terracotta pot, devoured the parsley in it, jumped on top of the car, made her way upstairs to the balcony, deposited a lot of chicken droppings ready to be placed in my compost bin to make fresh friable compost, made friends with Kelly and even managed to lay her very first egg in her lovely new nesting-box. Indeed, she is an incredible "multi-tasking" chicken.

The Very First Freshly Laid Egg
My dream of having fresh eggs every day in order to make pasta, cakes, Tiramisu, you name it, has been realised! Our Italian pasta machine is a manual handcrank Atlas 150, bought and kept in the attic in England for many years. It has now been dusted down and is waiting to be used on a regular basis. Soon, K and I will be able to make home made pasta with our very own eggs like the first egg below, freshly laid by Norris this morning!

The Power of a Twitter PLN
Yesterday I sent Sean Banville from the excellent Breaking News English website a tweet on Twitter asking him if he had any lessons on chickens. The following is the remarkable dialogue that ensued.

@SeanBanville An unusual request- do u have any lessons on chickens? Am doing post on arrival of chicks. Wld like 2 link 2 some lesson ideas

@janetbianchini Only bird-flu-type lessons. When do you need it? Tell me the level / focus and i'll make you a special chicken lesson.

@SeanBanville Thank you soo much!! Any level +4 idioms would be great! Posting in next few days, but will add your lesson when it's ready?

@janetbianchini Will try and have the lesson uploaded tomorrow - must look for chicken idioms - PLN help?????

@SeanBanville Fantastic!! Idioms:"chicken feed/headless chicken/be a chicken/chicken out/play chicken/count one's chickens/no spring chicken

from SeanBanville: 'Chickens' Latest #esl listening lesson from my Listen A site: - for @janetbianchini (hope u like it :-)

@SeanBanville Absolutely love it@ Brilliant- am very privileged that you have done it for me! Thank you very much!.

@janetbianchini My pleasure - I had fun making that one :-)

"Chickens" by Sean Banville
So there is now a fabulous newly created lesson on chickens and chicken idioms on Sean's Listen a site. The 9-page worksheet has all the different components that a great lesson should have. I really can't wait to try this one out!!! Nikita, Chikita, Norris and Berry are well on their way to becoming super Chick stars and they say "Thank you very much, Sean, for creating this lesson so quickly and brilliantly!!

Lesson update from Breaking News English 16th July 2010: The Chicken Came before the Egg

Some More Egg and Chicken Lessons and IdeasHave a look at this lovely BBCLearning English lesson on Egg Idioms.

Again, via my Twitter PLN stream, David Deubelbeiss, from the fantastic EFL Classroom 2.0. gave me this fabulous link to "What's in an Egg", Tar Heel Readers, which are great for children beginning to read.

Have a look at Pamela Stephenson's "Book Chook'" blog, which is a great site for children's book reviews and lots of other useful information on children's literature and literacy.

The Book Chook

You might be interested in reading this fascinating article from The Telegraph: "Chickens are capable of feeling empathy, scientists believe"
Thanks Susan, for the link!

Chicken and Dog Picture Dialogue Game
In the photo below, a nice Picture Dialogue Game activity could be played with students, either spoken or written. Ask them to create an imaginative and funny dialogue between the pair and then vote for the funniest one.

My friend Uli from Germany was inspired by the photo and has just sent in this delightful dialogue below.

Shandor and Patrena
"Hi Shandor, nice day, isn't it?"
"Hi Patrena. What exactly do you mean?"
"I only mean it is a nice day", smiling.
"Yeah", thinking, until you came.
"Fancy place you found to place your eggs?"
"Don't be ambiguous, Patrena, I'm here on scientific purposes only."
"Uuh!" Patrena reflecting, what crossed his mind this time?
"Well, looks as if you were trying to spy on the ghosts of your ancesters in the clouds."
Shandor not listening while in deep contemplation. They said it would occur at Sagittarius… "Woof!"
"What do you mean by woof, Shandor?"
"Oh, it's just a relaxed woof" and after a while,
"You are not inspired by astronomy, Patrena, are you?"
"No, not really. To be honest, I keep my mind off superstition."
"Hey, old peck, I pronounced it correctly, I said astronomy, not astrology!"
"Oh, Shandor, you fool, but that's one and the same thing after all. Don't be so silly!"
Shandor to himself: That snobbish hen, one day I'll kill the cheeky pecker.
Loudly: "Didn't you watch Faunatics last night?"
"Nepp, I watched 'Killed in a Chicken Run.', the whole bloody story."
"Therefore you don't know that they announced a Supernova for 7.11h ."
"… and now the bus doesn't arrive to get you near it!", laughing.
"Shandor, don't let yourself be fooled all the time. I remember you sitting here when your friend Stroby had announced a solar eclipse last month. Then only a thunderstorm came and you were nearly struck by lightening. Remember!"
"Don't bring that up! This one is another tale and a really good one. And now, I ask you, keep your beak tightly shut and place your eggs somewhere else. I am thoroughly convinced that I'm going to watch something extraordinary. If only those rotten clouds would fade away…"

Many thanks Uli! Anyone else care to make up a dialogue??

If anyone has some tips or advice for keeping chickens, I'd love to hear from you!


Sputnik said...

What an inspirational post - great stuff! Big thanks too for the heads-up on Big Huge Labs.

Janet Bianchini said...

Hi "Sputnik"

Thanks for visiting! I'm glad to share any useful knowledge I pick up with other teachers.

Enjoy playing with Big Huge Labs! The possibilities are endless.

popps said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Darren Elliott said...

Sean is setting himself a dangerous precedent there.... I might have to test him out with a bespoke lesson plan request ; P

Janet Bianchini said...

Hi popps

I won't be eating these 4 as they are laying chickens and also pets!
Thank you for sending me the link I but it didn't work, unfortunately. Could you send it again, so I can see it?

Janet Bianchini said...

Hi Darren

I am sure Sean won't mind you asking him for a bespoke lesson. There's no harm in asking. Good luck!

popps said...

Oops sorry.
Try this.
I remember my grandma had chickens in her back garden, we gave them all names, and then one sunday lunch............
Is this Betty?

popps said...

Its a video by the way, maybe delete the previous link ?

Janet Bianchini said...

Hi Chris

Many thanks for sending the link again. I really enjoyed watching the video of the egg festival. A lot of work must go into making the eggs as they are really fantastic and beautifully decorated.

popps said...

The man, Tim, who was the inspiration behind the idea (and the ice egg man) is now living in Zurich and runs a sister event in the Zoo!