When we own a pet, whether a dog, cat or frog for that matter, they become part of our daily lives and we eventually grow so attached that they are like having another family member. Here are some lesson ideas and creative suggestions for preschool pet themes for the classroom and even home.
I Have to Get a Pet!
Oftentimes, young children, especially three- and four-year olds, ask their parents for a pet without knowing the responsibility it takes to look after one. They are unaware of the costs of food, beds, cages, tanks, toys, clean-up, etc. that comes with the undertaking of a domestic animal. However, what they are aware of is how much love they have to give a special pet and how much fun it would be to play with them and learn more about them.
This is why it is important to talk with your students about pet care, what kinds of animals are the best choices for their environment, and how they should be properly treated. Through these crafts, games, and lessons, your preschoolers will have a better idea about how these types of animals survive, what kinds of characteristic traits they possess, and which one might suit their home situation best - before running to mom and dad!
Man's Best Friend - Dogs
We all have come to love dogs as the ever-popular choice for house pets. After all, they are known as man's best friend right? They are reliable, protective in times of need, playful, are often intelligent, and are easily trained to follow commands. They come in a variety of sizes and colors; some with long hair and some with short and some are more vocal than others are. There is an expanded variety of dogs that interact great with young children such as golden retrievers, labs, and poodles, so perhaps it is best to discuss some of these with your students first.
These lessons and ideas familiarize your preschool class with the ins and outs of canines such as what they look like, how to give them a bath, etc. Included are songs and crafts to coincide with a possible unit or theme on dogs.
Our Feline Favorites and Feathered Friends - Cats and Birds
Often times, cats are chosen as a family pet over a dog due to size, less maintenance, and less noise output. However, these felines are funny when it comes to their space and particular quirks. Teaching students about these animals helps them to visualize what they look like and how they may interact with humans. Are they playful? Do they sleep a lot? These may be some of the questions you may get during class circle time.
Another option for a maintenance free pet is a bird such as a cockatiel or parakeet. These relatively small and gentle birds can be trained to speak and do tricks. They do not eat too much; however, they can fly so it is necessary to teach young children how to handle them and their special features and abilities.
The articles below offer lessons, hands-on activities, and crafts on cats and birds that can be used in conjunction with books, lessons or a unit on either topic.
The Hopping Vegetarian - Bunnies
Bunnies are cute and loveable creatures that make very nice pets especially for younger children. They are soft, easy to pick up, and are quiet and relatively easy to take care of. Their diet usually consists of pellets, carrots, celery, and other leafy vegetables, and of course, plenty of water! Rabbits and bunnies are a popular animal covered in the preschool curriculum as they can be integrated into topics such as spring and gardening, Easter, and of course, pets.
Here are some cute and creative craft ideas, games, and lesson activities that help reinforce gross and fine motor skills, social skills, reading comprehension and more.
The Shy Slowpoke - Turtles
Turtles, along with other reptiles, make good pets as they are quiet, not too smelly, and are interesting to watch. These shell-shy guys are loved by young children as they can associate these animals with many classic children's stories and cartoon characters. From the timeless Tortoise and the Hare to Franklin from the Brenda Clark book and TV series to Squirt from Finding Nemo, turtles have developed a reputation of just being one cool reptile.
Get your students more familiar with these fascinating creatures by incorporating art, science, phonics and math into your lessons to give them more of a sense of their appearance and demeanor.
Swimming Schools - Fish
Fish are often the most common pet to have and are commonly found as a classroom pet too. Maybe that is why they swim in schools! These quick-moving, bubble-blowing friends are kept in tanks that often require certain specifics in order to prolong the fish's lifespan and maintain its health. Goldfish, of course, are the most popular choice for a first pet as well as Bettas or Siamese fighting fish. The bettas are actually easier to keep clean and look after in addition to their intriguing disposition.
Incorporating fish crafts, stories and lessons into a pet themed unit can be simple with the ideas below. In addition, they can also be used for an ocean theme, pond theme and can enhance math, reading, and science skills.
Less Common Pets
Apart from the pets mentioned above, there are several others that have been adopted as house pets throughout the world. Some of these include hamsters, frogs, snakes, lizards, hermit crabs, ferrets, horses, pigs, and even monkeys and alligators! (Some of these may not be suitable for young children, of course.)
Here are a few articles with a variety of suggestions and teaching ideas to introduce your students to some of these odd and interesting pets. From these activities, you can focus on curriculum in several areas including language arts, math, science, art, and dramatic play.
The Perfect Pet
By using this guide to preschool pet activities and theme ideas, your kids will have gained enough information to be able to decide if they are ready for pet ownership. Finding the perfect pet isn't easy, but when they finally convince their parents to get one, no matter their choice, they will be extremely loved and part of the family in no time. If you have any other pet ideas for the classroom, please feel free to share.