Whose egg?

On a recent daily exercise walk, we saw some fluffy ducklings. My son was very taken with them and the mummy and daddy mallard duck who were attempting to keep their offspring together. We also saw a broken bird's egg by the side of the path (which Google suggests was a wood pigeon egg from size, colour and shape) and my son wanted to know what had hatched out of it. He's also become increasingly keen on a YouTube video of a counting song in French involving dinosaurs hatching out of eggs (it's available in English too, but I try to justify increasing amounts of TV viewing whilst we are housebound to myself on the grounds that it's educational...). All of these things made me think it would be nice to talk a bit more about the different creatures that hatch from eggs, so I made a quick game as a talking point.


I had a look through photos I'd taken over the years and located a number of creatures that hatch from eggs, all except one being birds (and the other a reptile). I found some average dimensions and descriptions of shapes of eggs online and drew outlines to cut out. I've put the file for these and the matching photos at the bottom of this blog in case anyone fancies having a quick go at this activity.

Birds, one reptile, and cutouts of their egg sizes and shapes

The aim of the game was for my son to try and match the adult bird to its egg, although I wasn't expecting him to know all the answers. Straight away he picked the swan for the biggest egg, which happens to be right. Then he went for the smallest one and decided the smallest bird was the robin so that must lay the smallest eggs. It seemed intuitive to him that smaller birds lay smaller eggs (there are a few exceptions e.g. Kiwis).

Starting to match

He then noticed the crocodile lurking amongst the photos and commented that it wasn't a bird, which led to a discussion about what it was - a reptile - and that whilst they don't have wings and fly, they hatch from eggs like birds and like dinosaurs did before they became extinct. I helped him match the crocodile with its corresponding egg.

We then talked about the ducklings we had seen and matched the mallard egg with the picture. The hen egg size I found as an average is a lot smaller than the eggs we usually buy, so he wasn't convinced that it matched the hen, which in hindsight I should have realised, but I explained that shops sell hen eggs by size and we buy large ones!

Matched eggs and the adults who lay them

I asked him which was the same shape and size as the broken egg we had seen on the ground on our walk and he correctly chose the wood pigeon egg. I asked him which of the remaining birds it had come from. He wasn't sure, but he looked at the other remaining eggs (goose and Humboldt penguin) and decided that it must be the smallest bird of the three, the pigeon. He was quite excited to have discovered what had hatched from the egg he'd been interested in.

He then - reasonably enough - couldn't work out which was a Canada goose egg and which was a Humboldt penguin egg from the remaining two, so I showed him which way round they went. We talked about what the baby birds that hatched from the eggs were called, and agreed we'd look for goslings and cygnets next time we walked past the lake.

I've linked to a pdf version of the file I used above so you can just print and use at home if you wish.  You could easily simplify this activity with fewer eggs to match (it was hard and some children could find it off-putting, but it was meant as something to start a discussion about eggs and what hatches out of them rather than a challenge I expected him to complete without help) or modify to have species your child is more familiar with if you don't live in the UK. I chose birds he sees frequently plus the penguin and crocodile that he's seen at the zoo this year to make it easier for him to relate to. It worked nicely to get him thinking and he's asked quite a few questions since about reptiles, birds and eggs.