Introducing Animals - Notes from Primary

Language Extensions

Introducing Animals

            To foster the child’s reverence for life, it is important to have one or several animals in the classroom or home. When choosing animals for the casa, or for any classroom, consider the following criteria:

Purpose of the Animals
Zoological: Learning the fundamental characteristics of animals.
Animal Care: Teaching children how to properly care for pets.
Ambiance: The animal can complement the feeling, sound and visual characteristics of the casa or other environment. (do you want something LOUD in a quiet work space? or would an aquarium of beautiful fish be more suitable for a quiet work space, with chatty guinea pigs in a more active space?)

Age and ability of the Students
2-6 years: Animals that will not be handled by students or only by an adult.
7-12: Animals that can be handled by experienced students with adult supervision.
(home environments can better modify these ages since the groups of children are smaller, younger children can have more experiences handling the animals)

Classroom and Environment
Physical characteristics of the room: size, construction type, natural and artificial light, fluctuating temperature.
Activity type and levels of the animals: sounds and movements.

Animals’ Care Needs - what can be accommodated in your situation
Enclosures: wire, plastic, glass
Diet: commercial feeds, fresh feeds, live feeds
Health: veterinary care, immunizations, feed supplements
Exercise: independent or assisted

Animals’ Behavioral Characteristics
Activity level, noise, and odor.
It is important to choose animals that will not easily disrupt the children’s work.

Non-Classtime Care Schedule
Care on the weekends, holidays and summer break; vacations. 

Health Conditions of the Student Population
Allergies and respiratory problems
Immuno-depressed students
Students with mental or physical disabilities - what is most suitable to developing their abilities without putting anyone or anything in danger.

Local Regulation
What is allowed by state or local authorities, licensing and regulation. 

Consider each of these factors and what is necessary within your situation. If it turns out our situation does not allow for animals AT ALL, plan visits to appropriate locations to fulfill this area: homes of those who do have animals; zoos; veterinary clinics; boarding facilities; camping; nature hikes... Post more ideas in comments! 

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