Here’s a great program you may or may not know about! Pets in the Classroom recently contacted me and asked if I'd share their wonderful program. Here's what they sent me!
Pets in the Classroom is an educationalvgrants program supporting responsible pet care for school classrooms. Sponsored by the Pet Care Trust, the goal of the program is to establish healthy child-pet relationships by supporting responsible pet care in Kindergarten-8th Grade classrooms across the U.S. and Canada. The Pet Care Trust sponsors this program to help teachers purchase or maintain pets in the classroom through direct, no-hassle grants.
Having a classroom pet opens up many opportunities for creative lesson plans and enhanced curriculum. Kids love projects that incorporate their favorite new friend, and teachers have told us that their classroom pets have motivated and inspired students to improve their skills in many areas.
There are interesting ideas for lesson plans and activities that include animals, nature and your classroom pet. Consider covering topics like “What is involved in caring for a pet?” which would include an overview pet’s basic needs and necessary supplies while building language arts and communications skills as well. Students can share their knowledge and understanding of responsible pet ownership through writing and illustrating stories. There are many ways to enhance your curriculum with activities that sharpen students’ academic skills while fostering a better understanding of the human animal bond and the responsibility that we have towards our pets in the classroom and at home.
Having a pet in the classroom is a responsibility and does require some advanced planning in order to provide the best possible care for the pet. However, the rewards teachers and students receive in return can be simply amazing. The Pets in the Classroom’s Executive Director, Steven King, receives great feedback from teachers across the country on the positive impact their classroom pet has had on all of their students.
We know that teaching isn’t just about reading and writing, but also about shaping children’s character and providing positive ways to reinforce their social skills. Pets provide a unique way for teachers to spark their students’ interest and inspire them to grow. The program was designed to establish healthy child-pet relationships at an early age by supporting responsible pet care in elementary and middle school classrooms across the country. Research has shown that caring for pets develops children’s sense of responsibility, respect for living beings, and valuable social skills. Children can develop an increased awareness of the needs and feelings of others by interacting with a classroom pet and sharing responsibilities with other students. Teachers report that classroom pets can create a new sense of enthusiasm in children, as children pitch in and help care for the pet as part of a team. Students also approach assignments with new energy
when the classroom pet is involved.
King says that the Pets in the Classroom Facebook page is a great spot to see what teachers are saying about how their pets inspire the students. One teacher commented, “This year we added a turtle to our classroom to go along with the gerbil we have! It has been a true life experience many of my students have never had. I am so greatful to Pets in the Classroom for helping me give my urban and ELL kids this opportunity!” Another teacher shares, “We have a pet rabbit in our Kindergarten classroom. He's called Toki, which is Korean for rabbit. Toki is a great help in making shy children feel comfortable in our room. He teaches us that we are here to care for all animals. Animals are a great responsibility. They must be fed and watered each day. Their needs are much like ours. The students really enjoy showing him to grandparents and parents when they visit.”
A classroom pet also allows for creative additions to standard curriculums across multiple disciplines. Science, math, art, geography and language arts projects can all be developed around a classroom pet. And while their creative juices are flowing, kids are also making a vital connection to the natural world. With children spending more time with electronic devices than ever before, a classroom pet offers a unique way to expose children to nature, which has been proven beneficial to health and well-being.
Pets in the Classroom have awarded grants to nearly 25,000 classrooms, giving students the opportunity to interact with a pet every day in their classrooms. The program accepts online applications from teachers, awarding grants from $50 - $150 to purchase, adopt or maintain a classroom pet. For more information or to apply, please visit www.petsintheclassroom.org.