Educational value of having pets in the classroom: Pets provide many new ways to learn in the classroom. Teachers can use these lessons for many things and topics, the list is endless. You can use animals to enhance many areas of education. I have some ideas and would love for you to post your ideas. Have you done this in your classroom? Share your experience.

Make a care plan with your students.

Who will take care of the animal? What a great way to teach them to take turns? Each child will have the opportunity 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 by giving each student a turn with the mascot.

Who is going to name the pet? What a great way to teach them how to vote and that their vote really does make a difference.

Ideas to use in the classroom:

Math: how much does the animal weigh, how tall is the animal, how much will it cost to feed the animal, use a measuring cup for food and water. The possibilities are endless.

Science: learning how to care for the pet, what kind of habitat the pet needs, what kind of food is best, what part of the world did this animal originate from? Let your students help by bringing things to the habitat. Let each student choose something they would like to contribute to the pet that will help them understand all that it takes to care for an animal.

English/Language Arts: What words would children use to describe the classroom mascot? They can make journal entries every day to use their spelling and grammar skills. Each day choose another topic about the animal that you can write about. Use some of the words for the spelling or vocabulary test. I’m sure you have many more ideas. Please share them in the comments section.

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 aggressiveness and encourage spontaneous communication between students and teachers. Even verbal communication with the animal is excellent. It has been documented that even children with special needs do much better with pets, what better way to help a child who is frustrated holding a furry animal? Not that you’re looking to add a trained “special needs dog” to your classroom or anything else, but snuggling with a hamster can still have the same kind of calming effect on your child.

Be sure to consult with parents before choosing a pet for the classroom. The last thing you want is a child allergic to a pet of your choice.

Have fun with your new pet and you will be surprised how well your children will love and care for this animal.

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