Pets in the classroom

I have always been a huge beleiver that there needs to be pets in the classroom. Whether it be a goldfish, hamster, rat, or anything else. My husbands center actually has a pet pig in the center. That's cool! Maybe I'll find out more how they take care of her and everything and let you know. Today, I'm going to talk about our pet gecko. My husband had heard about a gecko that needed a good home and we wanted to take him. However, in our little apartment, there just isn't enough space for him. Plus we aren't there enough to give him the attention he would need. Okay, I know, how much attention does one little lizard need/want? So, we decide to take him and let one of my classrooms "borrow" him. His name is Zack, the kids call him Luke, it's a long, actually very funny, story; however for the purpose of this post, just know that the children call him Luke. Now, Luke is a leapard Gecko and is awesome! Most geckos are content to be left in their aquariums alone for the most part. They're cool to look at, and easy and fun to hold. However, Luke is not like any gecko you've ever met. He actually seems to love being in the classroom. He gets held practically daily and gets lots of attention. Over Thanksgiving break I brought him home and we got worried about him because he was just laying limply around his tank. As soon as we held him he perked right up, but would still lay in his tank when we weren't holgin him. When I brought him back to the classroom Monday morning, he perked right up as soon as the children came. So, Luke is a perfect classroom gecko...he seems to really love the kids and the attention!

When we first introduced Luke to the children they stayed at a distance, only a few brave ones would touch him. Now they fight over who gets to hold him first. We make sure they wash their hands before and after holding him. There is a book (bring in the lteracy) next to his tank that is all about leapard geckos and caring for them. The teacher did a fabulous thing for the children when introducing his living space (the location in the classroom). She put a chair next to the table and put it in an area that is away from the commotion and said "This is where we are going to keep him. Luke will also listen to your problems, so if you are sad, or mad, or anything, you can come and talk to Luke about it and he will listen to you." Considering she was 3 children who have a lot of anger issues, one who has impulse control issues, and 4 who have such sad home lives you wish you could take them home with you, this was fabulous! And you know, the children took it to heart. They really do go to Luke with their problems.
Luke has also been a great science lesson, of course. From talking about what he eats (crickets mostly) to his coloring, habitat, and yes his poop, the children have learned a lot from him. Since he eats crickets, they have also learned a lot about crickets. We keep the cricket box on the science table; they learn that crickets like dark places. They also learned that if they take the dar tubes out of the cricket box and shake them, crickets go all around the classroom and center. They also learned it's even funnier if they do it when the teacher's not watching. For about a week we kept finding loose crickets all over the center and couldn't figure out why...until we caught the kids letting them loose. We all had a good laugh.
Anyway, there are a few tips I have when looking for a pet:
First, are they easy to care for. You don't want to be spending more time taking care of a pet then you do taking care of the children.
Next, are they child friendly? Can the children touch them, hold them, help care for them, etc...If the only thing they are going to be able to do is look at them through a cage, it might not be a great pet.
That's pretty much it!
One note, if you get a reptile, they need heat. Be sure and leave a note to your janitors to not unplug the tanks! We had this problem a couple times and poor Luke had to go the night without heat. But, he has been a great pet!
What kinds of pets have you had in your classrooms? Is there a particular pet you think every classroom should have? Anything that you think doesn't belong in a classroom?

No comments: