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NYC Helpline: How To: Manage Your Classroom
View Promos of Instructional Videos for Teachers about Classroom Management

Classroom Management (Secondary)

A high school science teacher demonstrates how her structured and routine-based classroom environment is the key to success.

Classroom Management (Elementary)

An elementary school teacher guides us through her daily classroom routines and shows how consistency and structure are essential.

Classroom Management through Cooperative Groups

View two elementary school teachers demonstrate how they engage their students through group work to help them learn.

How to Home
NYC Helpline: Manage Your Classroom
NYC Helpline: How To Get Started

Pets in the Classroom
Bonnie Glasgold

Every teacher likes to make their classroom feel good. We want our classrooms to be an extension of the home environment. I find that a good way to do that is to have pets in the classroom. Not only do they provide a source of comfort for the students, they can be used to teach responsibility, nurturing, and respect for all living things. To support the upkeep of the pets, I usually ask for a donation of about $2.00 at the beginning of the year (okay this with your administration first). Here is a list of the different kinds of pets that do well in the classroom- animals that can be left alone on the weekend without any problem of neglect.
The best animals I have had were guinea pigs. I have had five of them in the last eleven years. They live for about five years, and in a small area are quite content. You need a guinea pig cage, which can be bought at a pet store (Petland sells a nice start up kit). The food and bedding will last for months. They eat a diet of dried food and fresh vegetables (carrots are their favorites).

What I like about guinea pigs is that you can hold them- they don’t bite. It’s a great way for the students who are afraid of animals to get used to one. They don’t need a large area to run around in. The children will love to take them home on vacations.

Another good classroom pet is a hamster. They usually come in pairs- they like company. Again, they require minimum care and take up little space. Hamsters can bite, especially the dwarf variety, so be cautious with little ones who might want to poke their fingers in the cage.

Goldfish make excellent pets. With a $10.00, ten gallon start up kit, you can purchase about 5 good fish. They don’t require a heater, and can live the whole year. At the end of the year you can give them to the child who has a fish tank at home.

Reptiles and amphibians like chameleons, anoles, newts, turtles, and frogs, are wonderful. You can purchase frogs as tadpoles and the children can see the amazing process of metamorphosis right there in the classroom. Frog kits can be purchased from school catalogues. (I have listed the names and numbers of the various catalogues at the end of the article.) Some of the reptiles require live crickets a few times a week. Before you purchase one, be sure of what it needs to eat and decide if the commitment is one you are willing to make. Turtles are also great pets. As long as you change their water daily, there is no problem with odors.

I also suggest you purchase caterpillars and/or ladybugs in the springtime. They arrive as tiny little creatures, eat continually for two weeks, and then spin a beautiful chrysalis. The children love to watch them grow. They will see their skin split, and can predict what the adult butterfly might look like. There is nothing more exciting than watching the butterflies emerge from their chrysalis. Then they can be let go, teaching the students a valuable lesson about keeping wild animals in captivity. This can be a great way to compare wild and domestic animals.

Ant farms are wonderful as well. You can purchase an ant farm and will be given a coupon to send away for the ants. Ants are industrious creatures and the children can see how an ant colony works together.

All of these pets can teach responsibility. Assign children tasks each week to care for the pet, e.g., cleaning the cages, feeding the animals. Let the animal become a member of the classroom. The children will learn to nurture and care for each of them!
Insect Lore- You can order online at http://insectlore.com, or by phone at 800-LIVE BUG.You can purchase all the equipment needed through this catalog.

As stated in the article Petland Discounts sells these small animals and supplies. The pets come with a guarantee for a limited amount of time. I have had great success with this store and there is one conveniently located almost everywhere!

Good luck with the members of your classroom!

If you have any questions feel free to e-mail me.

See also Critter Corner by Judy Jones.


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