If you want to teach your preschoolers math, reading and social skills, plan some activities around pets. Students can learn about how different animals live and what it takes to care for a domesticated animal. You can focus on math skills by helping students figure out how much to feed a certain pet, and of course, they learn how to look after another living thing. It takes the preschooler out of his "me" state of mind, helping him empathize with something less able than he to look after itself.
Having a classroom pet can help teach your students about nurturing and responsibility. It also teaches them about science, because they can observe the way the pet eats, sleeps, plays and even nurtures her own young. Take turns giving one or two students "zoo keeping" responsibilities for feeding, watering and cleaning. Preschoolers may need adult help with cleaning, especially larger pet cages. Fish tend to work well for preschool classrooms, since feeding is less involved, and you can help when it comes to cleaning out the bowl.
Learning About Pets
Introduce your preschoolers to the different kinds of pets people have by reading a book on pets. Teach about pet care with a trip to the veterinarian skit, having one student play the vet, and the other play a sick animal. Allow each student to take part. Discuss with your class what equipment the vet needs and what things he should look for when examining the pet. Have students write or draw about their own pets and what they or their parents do to take care of them.
Taking a Field Trip
Let your students see some animals up close. Contact the local pet store or animal rescue shelter to see if you can take your class on a trip to visit the animals. Pet stores typically offer a wider variety of animals, while going to a shelter teaches the kids about how people take care of abandoned or lost animals. Plan a trip to a wildlife rescue organization if you have access to one, so students can see the difference between animals that are appropriate to have as pets and animals that should be in their natural habitat.
Show and Tell
Plan a day where students and parents bring in their pets to meet the rest of the class. You'll have to get permission from the school, and you may need to go to a park nearby instead of bringing animals into the classroom. Have each student say something about her pet and perhaps show a trick, if the animal knows any. Remember that some animals should be kept away from one another, so you may want to split up show and tell and have students bring dogs one day, and birds another, or have students bring pets one at a time.
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