Pets in the Classroom. What Works and the Benefits of Having Them.

Animals provide engagement for students and are opportunities for authentic learning.

Being able to see science in action is a life long experience that many children will never forget.

The social-emotional gains are tremendous as they build bonds with animals, discuss and collaborate together about it. At first I was hesitant. I had concerns but then I tried it and now I firmly believe that the benefits outweigh the cons.

1. The opportunity to experience the life cycle

Most urban children never fully experience the life cycle on a regular basis like children in rural areas do. I firmly believe this is an important experience for children to learn about it and that it is normal.

No matter if it is a butterfly going through metamorphosis, watching ants live in their colony or watching chick develop from an egg in the incubator and then move onto the a farm these memories will last a lifetime! Not all eggs will hatch or a chick may be born injured. They need this exposure too. How can we problem solve to help?

2. Animals engage all children, especially boys

We are always challenged with finding authentic experiences for our students. Experiencing the life cycle is highly engaging for all students!

3. Animals provide authentic writing opportunities

Making predictions, describing observations, journaling and writing about the life cycle. There is a never ending list of authentic opportunities to write!

4. It  supports oral language development

Every parent tells me that they come home full of stories of the adventures that we have each day.

5. Animals help to develop empathy

Children see how small, fragile and vulnerable animals are. By watching them learn how to stand, walk, eat and drink they develop a new understanding of others.

6. Animals will help to calms your classroom

Have a loud class? Reminding them that the animals are like babies and have very sensitive ears will help reduce the volume in the classroom.

7. I have found it is the best way to keep students engaged until the end of the school year.

This was our classes biggest surprise at the end of the year.

We had the chicks until the end of the second last week of school. All of our students were motivated and engaged in class until the end of the year due to the chicks. My students parents were shocked how they never stopped wanting to come to school like many of their older siblings!

8. You can always "borrow" a pet from a family!

Don't want to have the expense of a pet?

You may have a family who will let you "borrow" their pet for a month (like a hamster).

One year we had a family go away for a vacation and they let the class take care of it during that month. The class thoroughly enjoyed it and the family was very appreciative that their pet was being taken care of while they were away!

If you want to learn more when we had chicks in our classroom this past year check out the following post: Having Fun with Chicks in the Classroom

Classroom Friendly Animals

Ants can be purchased and mailed to you from Ants Alive. I have used their "AntsWork" Gel Habitat and love it!
Butterflies {can be purchased in the fall from a local nursery}
Fish {beta fish are a great option from a pet store}
Hermit crabs {pet store}
Chicks {you'll need to find a local hatchery to purchase your eggs from. Ours were $20 for 12 fertilized eggs. We could only fit 8 in our incubator} 2 Weeks MAX as they quickly get too big and messy
Ducks {local hatchery} 2 Weeks MAX as they get quickly too big and messy
Hamsters {pet store}
Lizards {pet store}

What other animals have you had in your classroom that you're children have loved? How has it benefited your students?

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