A Kid’s Guide to Keeping Chickens March 20, 2015

Our friend  Melissa Caughey of Tilly’s Nest just released her first book about keeping chickens: A Kid’s Guide to Keeping Chickens. The most delightful thing about it is how it focuses on chicken keeping as a family activity, with “make and do” ideas for family projects you can complete together for your flock.

Reading A Kid’s Guide to Keeping Chickens actually made me rather nostalgic. Our family did a lot of chicken projects together when my daughter was of an age. Not only were there baby chicks to tame and name, but there were eggs to color for Easter (and recently even projects for Halloween and Day of the Dead), and incubation countdowns to hatch day with paper chains. And looking back even further to when I was young, even my grandmother and I had egg-related projects: we made caterpillars, flowers, mushrooms and ladybugs from egg cartons.

So that’s really what I go back to in this book. I still love crafts and DIY. I’ve talked about this before, but I grew up with the bizarre idea that you shouldn’t just focus on powering through chores or so you could sit down in front of the TV again. This is why I love A Kid’s Guide to Keeping Chickens: there are so many lovely DIY and craft ideas you can complete as a family, so you can enjoy and make memories out of the journey of chicken keeping.

  • How to make a homemade egg candler is on page 28.
  • How to create a chicken fort with twining vines is on page 32.
  • How to prepare seed rolls is on page 43.
  • How to raise your own meal worms is on page 61
  • How to weave an edible wreath for your flock is on p 110

… and so forth.

I’ll date myself: part of the nostalgia I got when reading this book was for the “Make and Do” Childcraft and Bookshelf for Boys and Girls sets from the 1970s. Back then you didn’t simply put your son or daughter in front of a screen to keep your child from being bored. Instead, you encouraged kids to go outside and play, maybe walk to the park… or (where I’m from), to go to the creek to skip stones or catch and release frogs and crawdads.  (We need more of this today, for sure!)

But on days where it was blowy, rainy or cold, you had to find something to do indoors, so we had the “Make and Do” books—the Internet of the day—filled with instructions for decoupage and papier mache; paper bag puppets and paper boats. (Also carpentry… because it was the 1970s, and setting your kids loose in the garage with hammers, nails, handsaws and wood was okay and even encouraged.) We didn’t do carpentry, ourselves, but we did weave many a potholder, cut reams of construction paper, glued a zillion popsicle sticks, and had sets and sets of tin can stilts.

Well, having progressed since the 1970s, now we safely buckle our kids in when they’re in a vehicle, rather than bounce them along in the bed of a pickup… and we have them helmet up when they ride bikes. We’re also a little more careful about blithely giving them a kids’ cookbook and leaving them unsupervised in the kitchen with stabby, burny things; or in the garage with poundy, cutty things. But we still have family craft projects and those in A Kid’s Guide to Keeping Chickens are safe, fun, and all designed around chickens.

Chickens themselves are like other pets in that they themselves encourage kids to get away from the screen and experience real, rather than just virtual, life–and Melissa Caughey’s book gives numerous additional delightful projects.

A Kid’s Guide to Keeping Chickens is a great companion to our own book, the My Pet Chicken Handbook. Ours focuses on proper preparation before getting into the hobby, and on making the right choices up front so your experience with chickens will be easy, and your “chicken chores” will be minimized because you’ll know how to properly customize your flock for your family’s needs and situation. A Kid’s Guide to Keeping Chickens focuses on keeping chickens as a family, and involving your kids in ways that are sure to make memories. Maybe your kids will one day be looking at crafts projects, and remembering the egg holders they made with you, based on the instructions in A Kid’s Guide to Keeping Chickens.

A Kid’s Guide to Keeping Chickens GIVEAWAY

We love to encourage chicken keeping as a family activity, so we’re giving away a copy of both books to one person who comments on this post, telling us about a craft project you did with your kids (or as a kid). It doesn’t have to be chicken related, but we’d love to hear it if it is! The giveaway entry period closes next Friday, March 27 at midnight, and the winner will be chosen randomly and notified by email. You must be located in the US, and must respond to notification within one week, or you will forfeit your prize and we may choose another winner.

Chicken Coop GIVEAWAY

But it gets even better: we’re also giving away a coop! If you’ve been wanting to get into chicken keeping, but don’t have the coop, yet–or if you have chickens but would like a second coop–then you’re in luck. To find out how to win the coop, visit the Tilly’s Nest blog.

Kristen Finn March 20th, 2015

My great-grandfather made us toy knitted chickens! He knit the body and then stuffed it with an egg from pantyhose!

Amy Sanchez March 20th, 2015

I was taking a pottery class and hurt my hand so throwing bowls was no longer an option. So I used the slab roller to roll out clay and used cookie cutters to cut out hearts and chickens. Use a straw to make a nice round hole at the top of each cutout. Then they go through their first firing. Then you can glaze them and the get fired again.

I would then tie them onto a huge grapevine wreath and put one on the front door and one on the gate into the chicken run.

If you are a good painter, you can paint each hen’s name onto the ornament while glazing and hang those onto the chicken run.

Lori Benton March 20th, 2015

When we were kids we used to make doll cradles out of the round oatmeal boxes and even salt containers for little dolls. We (or more likely Mom) cut about an inch down from the top and up from the bottom half way around the carton and then cut along the sides from the ends of the top cut to the ends of the bottom cuts. Then we got to decorate them with paper and lace and ribbons and rock our babies to sleep in them!

Monica R March 20th, 2015

Making a Easter tree out of budding branches and hanging colored Easter eggs on it!

Virginia O March 20th, 2015

I have fond memories of the Childcraft books as well! I loved the papier mache and I made a replica fort out of popsicle sticks complete with cardboard and paper towel covered wagons that won first place in some sort of library function! Thanks for the giveaway of this fantastic book, I can’t wait to read it.

Heather F. March 20th, 2015

I remember making adorable Easter crafts with egg cartons, cotton balls, construction paper and some glue! You’d make it look like the cotton balls were little chick sitting in the egg carton. Looking forward to repeating with my 3 year old son!

Laura March 20th, 2015

One of my favorite crafts that I’ve done with my son is making a felt Christmas tree with felt ornaments he could move around. He loved it! Thanks for hosting this great giveaway…we want to get chickens, but it all seems really overwhelming. Those two books would be fantastic and I’m totally entering the chicken coop giveaway!!

Lisa Breton March 20th, 2015

With the kiddos when they were younger we use to take yarn and braid it. Then tie on cinnamon sticks and spices wrapped in material. Then hang it from a doornob.

Zoya March 20th, 2015

We just made “chicks” out of cotton balls with my kids. 🙂

Susan Polk March 20th, 2015

We turn our egg shells into seed starting cups. We fill the shell with starter soil and plant a seed. When the plant is ready for the garden we just place the plant, shell and all, into our garden plot. Some students decorate their shells with funny faces and their seedling becomes the hair.

Debbie A March 20th, 2015

Every Easter my mom and I would make yarn eggs by wrapping colorful yarn around a balloon and spraying with starch. We would hang them all over the house!

Jen March 21st, 2015

We paint old applesauce jars and use them as vases for flowers from our yard. They make great gifts for grandmothers!

Melissa McCumby March 21st, 2015

I enjoy making edible tether balls for the chickens with my boys. I’m interested in try a weath with them 🙂

patricia kiser March 21st, 2015

My grand children & I made stepping stones with their hand prints and put them in my flower garden! I Love them

Melissa Lautermilch March 21st, 2015

I love to see with my four daughters. They also like to help me make tether treats for our chickens. So much fun to wTch the girls play with our egg laying girls. 🙂

cheryl Murphy March 21st, 2015

I would love to win this coop ! It would make an excellent transitional brooder, hospital or just plain chicken math !!!!! Thanks for he chance !!

JessicaT March 21st, 2015

Today we are doing paper mache. My 10 yr old daugher is making something for my birthday so I am not allowed to know what she’s making. The last time we did PM we made a piggy bank!

Lindsey March 21st, 2015

When I was young and a girl scout I learned the art of making Ukrainian Easter eggs… Now every easter with my own kids we create these beautiful eggs and decorate our house with them

Judy Kepler March 22nd, 2015

I would love to be able to share this book with my grandchildren. It’s sounds like a wonderful book!! Congratulations on your publication!

Linda Colson March 23rd, 2015

In 1952 I was five years old. We lived a great distance from my grandparents, and when we did finally get to visit, I felt shy around these strangers. My grandmother sat on the floor and started cutting pictures of people out of catalogs. She let me paste them on cardboard. Then she got a shoe box or two and made little houses, chairs, tables, and beds out of cardboard. I would paste on table cloths, dishes, and curtains. By the time we left I felt like she was the best friend I ever had, and as I am now almost 70, with my own grandchildren, I know how important it is to sit and be creative with these little ones. They will always remember the time you make for them.

Robbin March 23rd, 2015

A project we did was creating a lil farm yard with little rubber arm animals it is so cute and the kids just love it. We have recently gotten 14 little chicks for the kids to raise their first time raising chickens. These books would be very wonderful and educational for them they are ages 7 and 8 !!!!

Ryann March 23rd, 2015

I don’t do a lot of crafts with my kids, we mostly do open art (painting, cutting, glueing). But my daughter loves to help Daddy in the kitchen, and one of her favorite things to eat is Deviled Eggs.

Kim Rocha March 24th, 2015

I love using me eggshells to start seedlings… so simple and lots of fun!

karin March 24th, 2015

My first 3 chickens were raised by 26 kindergarteners as their spring project. When it was time to find a home, we volunteered not having any idea what was involved. They were the best chickens we have had- almost like dogs- would follow you around the yard, eat out of your hands, etc. We have had different chickens since then but none like that. now we are chickenless. but with a almost 2 year old granddaughter nearby, think we will be chicken farming again soon. My kids loved hearing the egg laying sounds, then finding the warm eggs left behind. Especially the blue green ones! Your books looks wonderful. would love a copy AND a coop.

Alysa March 24th, 2015

Our chicks love being inside our house and try almost every day to get back in when the weather permits. My kids make the hens little chicken treats with a bowl of plain yogurt with seeds. The chickens love it and can’t get enough!

Dana E. March 25th, 2015

I always loved making the baby chick crafts for spring/Easter when I was young. It’s been awhile since I have done crafts with my boys and since we are expecting our first set of chicks next week we sure would love this book!

Judy Kepler March 26th, 2015

Nothing awakens the heart like Spring…wishing for more time in the garden!

Julie P. March 27th, 2015

Since Easter is around the corner we would make our Easter baskets out of used gallon milk jugs. They would look like a bunny face with big ears and all after being decorated.

Kim Gayeski March 30th, 2015

We just moved to the country and have 11 hens – we love having chickens! Our project for this Spring is getting a garden planted…my boys (4 and 8) got involved by helping me plant seeds in egg cartons. We also painted cute markers for each type of vegetable we are planting! We would LOVE to win a copy of the book!

Morgan March 7th, 2018

Thanks for the info on this book! I am a first time chicken mama and after 3 weeks am already obsessed. The real reason I bought chicks was actually for my 2 little kids (3.5yr and 2yr with another on the way!) whom I thought would LOVE helping me raise them. So far, they are even more obsessed than me and I adore watching them say “good morning” and “good night” to our six little chicks. They help me feed them, cuddle them (yes, they are very very gentle with them) and even sing songs to them. Too cute for words. Needless to say, we are all thrilled to have expanded our family with our chicks!
That all being said, I will look forward to reading about more ideas of how to build the bond between my kids and chicks in this book! Thanks!

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