We have added a new friend to our classroom community.
If you ever find yourself asking a group of kindergarten students whether or not you should invest in a classroom pet, do not be surprised when you receive a resounding “yes”. At least, that was our experience.
You may be wondering, why in the world would you want the added task of caring for a pet – on top of navigating the crazy world that is Kindergarten?
Let me answer this question for you – a classroom pet provides crazy, awesome, cool and fun enrichment opportunities for our students.
- for students with limited to no exposure to animals, it provides them with an opportunity they wouldn’t get anywhere else.
- a classroom pet fosters a sense of responsibility in our classroom, with students being introduced to what it means to take care of another living thing, instilling a sense of pride and accomplishment.
- a pet can also bring about an increased sensitivity, recognizing and thinking about the needs and feelings of something outside of themselves. With something so fragile and small, they need to practice being nurturing, kind and careful.
I assure you, we weren’t going to make it easy on our students. From the very beginning, we were determined to have our kindergarteners involved in the process, with the understanding that pet care would very much be their responsibility.
We started the process with the most difficult, and most obvious, question –
what KIND of pet should we get?
Brainstorming a list of pets we would love to have in the classroom, we heard it all – cat, dog, bird, lizard, gerbil, fish, bunny, turtle, snake, baby brother?! Once we had our list, we went through and analyzed each one.
As it would turn out, one of our kindergarten friends is allergic to dogs – raising an important health and wellness question. In taking good care of our class pet, we would anticipate it to remain a part of our classroom long after these friends have gone on to Grade 1. So… what if our new kindergarten friends had allergies too?
To avoid this, we were able to go through our initially brainstormed list and sort our ideas into two categories – furry friends that are often prone to allergy, and our allergy-free ones. It became obvious quite quickly that we would be looking for a reptile.
Propelling our research forward, we invited a reptile lady into the classroom – armed with a variety of reptiles, and the knowledge that we were looking to invest in a reptile for ourselves.
After narrowing it down – thinking about what they eat and how big they grow – we decided on a leopard gecko and paid a visit to our local Pet Store.
All she needed was a name. Weeding through the outlandish ones – we landed on a final 4, and graphed our votes. It was a close race – with Spark winning over the majority.
UPDATE: it’s been a few months with Spark in our classroom. Weekly, as part of our classroom jobs, one of our kindergarteners takes on the role of “veterinarian” – where they are responsible for keeping her water filled, and assisting in feeding her her worms and crickets. She has been a fabulous addition to our program.