Really Good Stuff® on Pinterest Really Good Stuff® on Facebook Really Good Stuff® on Twitter  About Us  |  Contact Us  |  Shop reallygoodstuff.com

The Pros and Cons of Class Pets

Photo by edenpictures (flickr.com)

If you are thinking about adding a pet to your classroom, there are some pros and cons you may want to consider. Not every class is appropriate for a pet, and some schools even prohibit them in the classroom. Check out the benefits and drawbacks below, as well as the alternatives for having a live classroom pet.

The Benefits of Having a Class Pet

Class pets can provide students with wonderful hands-on learning. Their care and upkeep are tangible ways to teach students about responsibility and compassion. In fact, learning how to care for for something else is one of the best lessons that a child can learn during his formative years. In addition to responsibility and compassion, a class pet also encourages students to be respectful of other living things. A live animal who becomes the class’ mascot is a great representative of the environment as a whole. With a teacher who is diligent about ensuring the animal’s well-being, students can learn how what they do to and in their environment can effect other creatures.

The Drawbacks of a Class Pet

While class pets can be a great teaching tool, they can also be a huge distraction. For students with attention and focusing needs, class pets can provide too much stimulation and distract them from their work. Some students, especially those in early elementary grades, may not be mature enough to care for a class pet. That puts the responsibility for the animal’s care and upkeep on the teacher. Even if students are mature enough, the issue of everyday care, as well as weekend, holiday and summer break care, will need to be addressed. Class pets can also be messy, smelly and pose the risk of injury or infection. While a small lizard may seem harmless, the potential for salmonella is ever present. Be sure to research the risks of the pets that you are considering to make sure that the one you choose is the best option for your class.

Tattling Turtle Kit

Alternatives to Traditional Class Pets

If your school is one of the many who no longer allow living animals as class pets, there are still some options. You can designate a stuffed animal, like Sheldon the Sheep or the Tattling Turtle, as your class’ pet. While care issues are not much of a concern, the accessibility to these stuffed animals is much greater for the students. You can still assign a “weekend parent” who takes him home on Friday. Your students’ parents will probably be much happier to host a stuffed turtle for the weekend than they would a live one. Another option is to adopt an animal from a local zoo. If you live near a large zoo, chances are that they offer adoption programs and have some of their animals on live streaming video. This is a great alternative, especially if your class will be taking a trip to the zoo at the end of the school year.

Class pets are definitely not for everyone, but they can provide a great learning opportunity for those classrooms who are mature enough to handle them. How do you deal with the topic of class pets in your classroom and school? Are there restrictions on the types of animals you can have, if any? Let us know how classroom pets impact your teaching and your students’ learning by leaving a comment below.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Tags: ,
5 comments
Virginia
Virginia

I have only had a class pet once. Having a class pet has its pros and cons. The pros are the need and love it provides for children from troubled homes. It also helps to teach responsibility as I had the students take care of the pet and they loved it. Watching the children grow in maturity and caring was amazing. The cons, however, is what to do with the pet over the breaks. Many parents would agree to let their child bring it home but sometimes I would end up getting it back before the break ended. Also, it can be a disruption at times during lessons. At the end of the year, I had a drawing, with parents permission, for one lucky child to end up with the pet. It was a good thing as this child's parents were getting a divorce and the pet helped him deal with the changes. By the way, his parents worked it out and got back together. Happy endings for all!

Melissa
Melissa

I've tried fish...they always died. I had some success with African Dwarf frogs (even when in a trailer) but when I moved into the building the classroom was too hot and it cooked the frogs in their tank. :( So now I have Fire Bellied Toads and the kids love to watch them...and watch me feed them live crickets. I have a native NC frog that my children's daycare "found" for me... And one of my students this year, brought in a baby tree frog that I feed flightless fruit flies to. Needless to say, my classroom theme is frogs. ;) I think having classroom pets teaches students responsibility, caring about living things and excites them about learning.

Wendy
Wendy

After dealing with a stinky bunny and a variety of escape-artist rodents over the years, I gave up on having class pets. Now, I go to Build-a-Bear Workshop and make a special fluffy class pet for my room every August. I always pay a tiny bit extra to record a special message for my class that gets inserted in the animal’s ear. I use the animal to reward good behavior (he sits with the child who is working most quietly, who has shown consideration for his classmates, has been a good helper, etc.). The kids love having the class pet sit with them, and I don’t have to deal with cleaning a stinky cage every week.

Penny
Penny

We are not allowed to have anything furry or turtles. So for 1 1/2 years we had a rescued boa. Students loved her and she was a great teaching tool. Lots of kids came to understand that snakes were not something they had to be afraid of. Luckily we were able to find a good home for her as she was getting quite large (6 1/2 feet, 10 inches around) and eating extra large rats.

Cheryl s
Cheryl s

When I taught 3rd grade, we had a hamster that my class named and took care of. After 2 years of escapes and noises during my teaching time she died. My second grade class, at the time of death, sent death notices to the 5th graders that named her and we had a funeral. My former students came and told Fluffy stories and told my current class about how they named her!! It was a great teaching tool and we all grew from it!