This is Max the bearded dragon, our new class pet. Max, meet the blogging world.
The mister and JR14 helped me pick him (her?) out and set up his (her?) two (yes, two!) terrariums today. The boys were not quite as excited, preferring to ooh and ahh over larger and furrier animals at the pet store today but I was beyond excited. I can’t wait to see the happy faces of my scholars when they come in to school on Monday and see Max.
Max is partially funded through the Pets in the Classroom grant, which I stumbled upon two weeks ago while browsing the PetSmart website for dog treats for my Samoyed/Labrador mix, Chloey. It was quite fortuitous as I was planning my animal unit. I have never had class pets before, but it was too good an opportunity to pass up.
Thank you, Pets In The Classroom, for helping me take the jump and to the wonderful PetSmart staff who answered all my questions and helped me gather all the materials I needed.
So, how do I plan to use Max in our animals unit? Last week, we began our introduction to animals by observing various plants, crickets and goldfish. We discussed how they are all examples of living organisms, and tried to articulate how we know an animal when we see one. That led to our study of invertebrates and vertebrates.
This week we begin looking at the various major groups of vertebrates. I plan on using class observations with Max, to reinforce how the pet meets the criteria of living organisms and the major characteristics of vertebrates, and to emphasize academic terms like “endotherm” and “ectotherm”.
In the following week, we move on to animal behaviors. We’ll talk about innate VS learned behaviors, survival needs, etc.
Through some Internet research I did tonight, I also learned that another pet store, PetCo, offers free in store field trips through a program with Field Trip Factory. This is another fantastic opportunity to expose scholars to more animals and learn about animal welfare, habitats, and diversity. FFT and PetCo offer a downloadable curriculum guide that teachers can use as they tour the pet store. It’s too bad it’s 10 PM Eastern time here right now or I would have picked up the phone and set up an appointment for my school already!
For more long term ideas, I plan to keep daily logs of Max’s measurements, feeding habits, etc. MiddleWeb just shared a PDF on top 50 Web 2.0 tools earlier this week, and there was a great link on Infogram. I’d like to use that info graphic tool to create visuals using data from our class pet. Writing prompts, generating questions (gotta finish reading “The Right Question”) and personal research reports about the class pet are more examples of ideas on incorporating the class pet into lesson plans and curriculum.
If you too have classroom pets, how do you use them in your science lessons? I’d love to hear your ideas! Please share!