In today’s high-tech world where many experiences are now virtual, some teachers and organizations are making an extra effort to ensure that their students have real interactions with animals in the classroom.
Most kids know how to play computer games by the time they enter first grade, but the only pet they might have had was online. For years, teachers have realized the importance of learning from a living creature, but recently, organizations have been stepping in to help provide funding so that teachers aren’t paying for the animal and supplies out of pocket.
For example, two years ago, Pets in the Classroom, a Maryland-based project from the non-profit foundation Pet Care Trust, began offering grants to U.S. and Canadian teachers in grades 1 through 8. The money can be used to buy starter pets, cages, food and other supplies. It issued its 10,000th grant this summer.
In one Minnesota classroom, the teacher has built lessons around two miniature Russian tortoises, a fire-belly newt, tree frogs, three types of gecko, several hermit crabs, two small ball pythons, a corn snake and a 45-gallon tank of fish. Students observe and draw the animals, research and write about them, producing book of their work by the end of the school year. The animals can inspire the kids to get motivated and excited about learning as well.
Pets in the Classroom sites these ways that animals enrich a classroom experience: