Classroom pets offer an exciting learning opportunity for students that can enrich their lives in a multitude of ways. But as any pet owner knows, caring for an animal can be a lot of work! Just like humans, pets have specific dietary needs, health concerns, likes and dislikes, and different levels of sociability. Maintaining a journal in which you document comprehensive details about your classroom pet is an important way to ensure that it is consistently receiving proper care. As an additional benefit, putting students in charge of recording information about your pet can help teach them responsibility, keep them actively engaged in caring for the pet, and even provide a hands-on basis for science lessons. As the pet grows and changes, students will love observing its new behaviors and making interesting discoveries!
As you start a log or journal for your classroom pet, consider including the following details:
- The pet’s name, estimated date of birth, and how you acquired it
- A description of the pet, including its species, size, and color
- Records of any vaccines or veterinary care your pet has received
- A log of daily feeding, including types of food, quantities, and feeding times
- A checklist for the pet’s care, including instructions for handling, playing with or exercising the pet, and cleaning its habitat
- Notes about the pet’s temperament and behavior. For example, what does it like and dislike? What habits does it commonly display? How does it react to humans?
Consistency is the key to maintaining a journal that provides effective guidance for anyone caring for your pet. Therefore, if you take the pet home with you to care for it on weekends or during school breaks—or if students are granted this privilege—make sure that the journal accompanies the pet. This will ensure that no matter who is in charge of looking after your classroom pet, its dietary, medical, and behavioral needs will be properly met.
Want to learn more about the needs of your new classroom pet? Check out Pets in the Classroom’s pet care sheets (https://www.petsintheclassroom.org/pet-care-sheets/) and our other resources for helpful information! Pets in the Classroom is an educational grant program that provides financial assistance for pre-K through 9th-grade teachers for the purchase and care of small classroom pets, ranging from hamsters and guinea pigs to turtles and bearded dragons. Visit https://www.petsintheclassroom.org/grant-app/ to find out if you qualify!