Children and animals – A winning combination!
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Children and animals – A winning combination!

What’s the best and most natural way to explore and learn about life cycles, our unit in grade 2, other than observing the development of small animals from their incipient to mature phase? For our unit we introduced 5 types of small animals into the classroom.

By Oana Dobarcianu, classroom teacher 2 Orange

The children couldn’t wait to meet their aqua dragons, tadpoles, butterflies, ants and stick insects, showing great enthusiasm and interest! To kick start the process, each child observed the animals, whilst thinking how to take care of them. Besides the excitement of having class pets, the children developed a sense of responsibility and respect for life, as they were divided into five groups to look after the unusual new members of our class.

The aqua dragons were practically invisible at first

One group for example provides food and air for the Aqua Dragons, while another group feeds the tadpoles. Students also needed to adapt the environment of their pets as their needs changed or they just had to be very quiet as the stick insects are nocturnal animals that rest during the day. The ultimate goal of performing these tasks was to develop and increase sensitivity and awareness of the feelings and needs of the animals, as well as, learning to be responsible and caring towards them.

Helping to take care of a pet gives a child a sense of pride and accomplishment. For example, the children responsible for the Aqua Dragons were very excited to see how big they have become, almost 2 cm now. They were practically invisible for the first month! The more they grew, moved, ate, the more the children felt confident and proud. The children who cared for the pets knew that what they did mattered, and so they wanted to do more of it. 

Strong human-animal bonds

It’s never too early to start teaching children proper animal care. Whether helping to find food for the stick insects, or filling the tadpoles’ water tank, children can develop strong human-animal bonds and these relationships help to strengthen their social, thinking or research skills, giving them the potential to do better in a school setting.  

So, what pets are you going to have?