Pets bring so many new ways to learn within the classroom. Teachers can use these lessons for so many things and subject matters, the list is never-ending. You can use having the animals to enhance so many areas of education. Here are a few ideas that you can use. Have you done this in your classroom?
Make a care plan with your students
Who is going to care for the animal? What a great way to teach them to take turns? Each child will have a chance to be responsible for feeding and caring for the animal even cleaning the pets “home” should be a shared responsibility. Make a poster or bulletin board to be fair in giving each student a turn with the pet.
Who is going to name the pet? What a great way to teach them how to vote and that their vote actually makes a difference.
Ideas to use in the classroom
How much does the animal weigh? How long is the animal? How much is it going to cost to feed the animal? Use a measuring cup for the food and water. The possibilities are endless.
Learning how to take care of the pet and what kind of habitat the pet needs, as well as what types of food are best are beginners. What part of the world did this animal originate from? Allow your students to help by bringing in things for the habitat. Let each student pick something they would like to contribute to the pet and that will help them understand what all it takes to take care of an animal.
What words would the children use to describe the classroom pet? They can do journal entries daily to use their spelling and grammar skills. Each day pick another subject about the animal they can write about. Use some of the words for spelling test or vocabulary. You are sure to have tons more ideas.
Children can learn social skills by taking turns caring for the animal. They learn compassion and empathy. Animals in the classroom also have a calming effect on classroom behavior. They reduce aggression and encourage spontaneous communication between students and teachers. Even the verbal communication with the animal is great. It’s been documented that even children with special needs do much better with pets, what better way to help a child who is frustrated than to hold a fuzzy animal? Not that you are looking to add a trained “special needs dog” to your classroom but snuggling with a hamster can still have the same kind of calming effect on the child.
Be sure to check with parents before choosing a pet for the classroom. The last thing you want is a child who is allergic to a pet that you have chosen. Have fun with your new pet and you will be surprised how well your children will love and care for this animal.