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Class pet doc


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The children in my Kindergarten class investigate whether we should have a class pet after a proposal from one of the children,

Should we get a class pet?

“A pet is an animal you want to keep forever. If you use toys to be a pet they will never ever die because you can sew them back together. If you get a real pet and keep it in the classroom, it’s called a class pet. A living thing and a not living thing because small animals die easily. You have to feed her and care for her. I know a lot about pets.”

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Class pet doc

  1. 1. From August 2014, delving deeper from February 2015 Should we get a class pet? Learning to Understand our Environment “A  pet  is  an  animal  you  want  to  keep  forever.  If  you  use  toys  to  be  a  pet  they  will  never   ever  die  because  you  can  sew  them  back  together.  If  you  get  a  real  pet  and  keep  it  in  the   classroom,  it’s  called  a  class  pet.  A  living  thing  and  a  not  living  thing  because  small   animals  die  easily.  You  have  to  feed  her  and  care  for  her.  I  know  a  lot  about  pets.”  (Audra)
  2. 2. Early  childhood  is  often   described  as  a  unique  and   critical  time  for  connecting   children  with  nature.   “Nature  connections  made  in   early  childhood  are   instrumental  to  the   construction  of  values,   development  of  an  ‘ecological   self’,  and  can  be  viewed  as  a   lifelong  resource.  But,  under   what  circumstances  do  these   connections  materialise?”   (Elliot  et  al,  2008,  p  10) Over  the  year  the  children  have   shown  a  love  and  affinity  for   animals.  Children  feel  an   inherent  empathy  with  wild   and  domestic  animals  .   Children’s  first  impulse  with   some  animals  is  to  pick  them   up,  hold  them  close,  take  care   of  them  and  become  them.   Other  animals  inspire  fear  and   avoidance.  In  this  transient  life   school  that  many  have  chosen   in  living  overseas,  maybe   school  seems  to  be  the  right   place  to  begin  developing  an   authentic  connection  to  the   Earth  and  nature.   David  Sobel  reminds  us,   “If  we  want  children  to   flourish,  to  become  truly   empowered,  then  let  us  allow   them  to  love  the  earth  before   we  ask  them  to  save  it.” What  can  we,  as  educators,  do   to  foster  children’s  natural   curiosity  about  their  world?   How  do  we  measure  a   ‘connection’  to  the  natural   world?  And,  where  do  we  start? We  have  also  made  a   commitment  to  spending  as   much  time  outdoors  each  day   as  we  could,  ensuring  that   children  had  time  to  explore   the  outdoor  environment,  tend   the  gardens  and  develop  a   relationship  with  the  outdoor   environment  at  kindergarten. David  Attenborough  once  said   that,   “People  are  not  going  to  care   about  animal  conservation   unless  they  think  that  animals   are  worthwhile.” However  when  Audra  proposed   that  we  absolutely  must  get  a   class  pet,  I  was  not  sure  how  to   respond.    I  found  myself  in  a   situation  of  conflict.  My   personal  feelings  drove  me   towards  deep  sadness  at  being   complicit  to  living  creatures   being  held  captive  in  cages  for   our  own  pleasure.  I  carried  out   my  own  research  into  the   connection  between   developing  relationships  with   animals  in  childhood  and  future   protection  of  wildlife.   Reflecting  on  my  observations   of  children,  I  realised  that  they   naturally  become  animals  in   their  play,  taking  on  characters   and  trying  to  understand  them   from  the  inside  out.  When  I   considered  the  books  in  our   class  library,  I  noticed  that  it  is   surprising  how  frequently   animals  play  a  central  role.   More  often  than  not,  either  the   characters  are  animals  or  the   people  are  interacting  with   animals.  Animals  play  a   significant  role  in  the  evolution   of  children’s  care  and  the   natural  world  and  in  their  own   emotional  development.
  3. 3. I  discovered  that  the  many  ways  that  children  play  at  being  animals  and  at  interac6ng  with  animals  has   the  poten6al  to  develop  future  desires  to  protect  animals.  Perhaps  projec6ng  feelings  and  human   characteris6cs  onto  animals  facilitates  rela6onships.  It  makes  animals  and  people  part  of  one  larger   family,  with  kinship  rela6onships  and  rules  for  sharing  and  care  taking  that  weave  clans  together. “By  idenAfying  with  a  number  of  animals  in  turn,  the  child  discovers  a  common  ground  with  other   beings  despite  external  differences  between  himself  and  them.  Anthropomorphism  at  this  stage  is   essenAal...By  pretending  that  animals  speak  to  one  another,  he  imposed  on  them  a  pseudo-­‐humanity   which,  although  illusionary,  is  the  glue  of  real  kinship.” (Shepard,  P.  1983) Doing  further  research,  I  found  that  prominent  naturalists  describe  a  fascination  with  capturing  animals   in  childhood.  Harvard  entomologist  E.O.  Wilson  comments,   “Hands  on  experience  at  the  critical  time,  not  systematic  knowledge,  is  what  counts  in  the  making  of   a  naturalist.  Better  to  be  an  untutored  savage  for  a  while,  not  to  know  the  names  or  anatomical   detail.  Better  to  spend  long  stretches  of  time  just  searching  and  dreaming.”   (Wilson,  E.    1994)
  4. 4. Grateful  to  the  children  for   causing  me  to  think  and   wonder,  we  began  to   investigate  Audra’s  proposal.   Initially  Audra  asked  for  the   children’s  first  thoughts  about   class  pets.  The  children  shared   their  ideas... “If  you  bring  a  dog  it  might   scratch  me.  I  don’t  want  a   dog.”  (Hudson) “If  we  get  a  tiny  puppy,  we  get   used  to  it  when  it  gets  bigger.  It   would  be  cute.  My  cat  took  a   bath  yesterday  in  the  sink,  but  he   didn’t  like  it.  We  should  get  a  cat   because  he  looks  cute  when  his   hair  sticks  out.”  (Audra) “Bird  is  not  very  scared.  You  can   get  bird  cage  so  they  wont  get   out.”  (Yuta) “Maybe  a  parrot  because  my   sister’s  friend  has  a  pet   parrot.”  (Jacob) “A  kitty  and  a  mummy  cat   because  there  are  so  nice.  A  little   cat  can  be  wild.”  (Rachel) “Hamster.  I  like  hamsters.   Hamsters  are  cute.  Hamsters  can   be  our  class  pet  because   hamsters  are  not   dangerous.”  (Mahnoor) “But  they  die  easily.  My  sister   said  that  every  time  she  had  a   hamster  it  died.”  (Liam) “One  time  I  go  to  the  pet  shop   and  there  is  10  hamsters  and   then  the  people  said  it  is  going  to   die  easily.  So  I  don’t  want  a   hamster.”  (Yuta) “A  rabbit  because  rabbits  are   cute.  So  much  fur  and  it  can  die   easily  if  you  pet  them  too  much   they  die  easily.”  (Mahnoor) “A  wolf.”  (Bogac) “Turtle  because  Audra  and  me,   we  want  a  turtle.”  (Clara) “Wolves  are  too   dangerous.”  (Mahnoor) “Turtles  are  better  because  they   don’t  bite  us.”  (Clara) “Baby  wolves  don’t   scratch.”  (Bogac) “If  we  get  a  wolf  ....”  (Clara) “The  daddy  wolf  can  come  and   scratch  us.”  (Will) “But  there  are  no  wolves  in  the   pet  store.”  (Jacob) “An  owl.”  (JJ) “Can  we  get  a  turtle  and  a   guinea    pig  ?  I  had  a  guinea  pig  in   Australia.  It  didn’t  die.  It  just   went  off  to  a  different   home.”  (Audra) “If  we  get  a  turtle  its  much  better   because  it  won’t  bite  us.”  (Clara) “A  guinea  pig  would  be  fine.  You   can  have  a  big  cage.  You  can   actually  hold  him.  We  can  have  a   pet  turtle  and  you  can  hold   them.  It  can  be  in  a  big  circle   cage.  It  can  be  in  the  book  corner.   We  can  read  it  a  story  before  it   goes  to  bed.”  (Audra) The  children  had  a  lot  of  ideas   to  share  and  listened  well  to   each  other,  sometimes  offering   more  problems,  sometimes   offering  possible  solutions  or   knowledge.
  5. 5. “Yes,  because  they  follow   you.”  (JJ) “Yes  because  I  like  pets  because   sometimes  they  like  you.”  (Jacob) “Yes.  Grade  5  need  to  have  a  pet.   Grade  5  had  a  pet,  but  it  bite  the   friend  of  my  sister  and  now  they   don’t  have  a  pet.”  (Clara) “Yes,  because  I  want  to  pet  it  and   give  it  food.”  (Nicole) “But  what  happens  if  it  scratches   us?”  (Will) “I  have  a  pet  that  is  a  dog  but  it  is   trained.”  (Nicole) “But  it  wouldn’t  be  trained   because  if  it  doesn’t  know  you  it   would  scratch.”  (Liam) “Yes  because  I  don’t  have  a  pet  at   home.  There’s  a  problem  with   having  a  pet  that  walks,   sometimes  pets  only  like  one  kid.   Maybe  we  should  have  a  fish,  a   rainbow  fish.”  (Bogac) “But  then  we  can’t  take  it   home.”  (Clara) “But  this  is  a  class  pet.”  (Audra) “But  the  pet  doesn’t  like  the  dark   in  the  class  when  no  body  is   there.  We  need  to  give  it   dinner.”  (Clara)   “Who  will  look  after  the  pets  in   the  night?”  (Peppa) “My  dogs  are  trained  to  fetch  a   ball  and  bring  it  back  to  me  but   they  are  back  in  Australia”  (Will) “Yes,  because  owls  can  be  at   night  and  I  don’t  need  to  bring  it   home,  but  I  like  guinea  pigs  and   bunnies  too.  Or  a  fish  because   fishes  can  be  different.  I  like   angel  fishes.”  (Audra) “Yes,  because  I  like  pets.  I  don’t   have  a  pet  at  home.”  (Aurelia) “I  had  a  classroom  pet  before.  I   had  a  fish.  It  was  nice  but  some   of  them  were  dead.”  (Bogac) “Yes,  in  EC2  we  had  some  fish   and  they  dies.  A  fish  is  good  but  if   we  have  a  tub  of  water  in  the  bus   it  will  spill.”  (Clara) “My  dog  ,  if  she  doesn’t  know   people    she  jumps  on  people  and   she  might  scratch.”  (Hudson) “Yes,  I  like  to  have  a  fish.  A  fish,   you  put  a  fish  in  a  tub  and  it  will   not  die.”  (Luis) “I  like  cat  because  cute  but  my   dad  and  my  mum  say  no  because   Indonesia  cat  too.”  (Rena) “A  dolphin.  I  like  dolphins.  But  I   know  we  can’t  have  a  dolphin  at   school.”  (Peppa) Although  everyone   enthusiastically  exclaimed  that   we  should  have  a  class  pet,  still   more  points  to  consider   emerged  from  this   conversation.  I  invited  the   children  to  participate  in  a   thinking  routine  to  help  them  to   critically  analyse  the   proposition  .   What  if  you  are  allergic  to   pets?  The  hospital  is  far   away.  (Clara) But  where  would  we  get   the  animals  from?  Bunnies   are  cute,  dogs  are  cute,   ponies  are  cute.  (Audra) Yes,  ponies  eat  carrots,  so   thats  easy.  (Peppa) Can  I  get  a  horse?  No,  a   pony?  No,  a  flying  unicorn?   (Audra) But  unicorns  are  not  real.   (Peppa)   Would you like a class pet?Would you like a class pet? Yes No Do you think we should have a class pet?
  6. 6. Thinking about class pets Need to know Suggestions Excited aboutWorries Having a pet Playing with a pet Taking care of a pet Talking to a pet Walking with a pet Does the pet like to be alone or not alone? How to train a dog How to be nice to the pet Where to get food Will the pet get hurt? Being bitten Germs The pets might eat our food It might run away It might die Who will take care of it at night , in the morning and in the holidays? Where will it go to the toilet? Will it be scared at night? Will it be lonely at night? Will it be scared of us? If we have fish, get two tanks Will is an expert about dogs We should train the dog We need a cage We need to study more about pets.
  7. 7. We  had  many  conversations  both  with  the  whole  class  and  with  individual  or  small  groups  of  children.   The  more  I  listened  to  the  children  with  an  open  mind,  I  found  that  they  were  really  showing  a  more   empathetic  understanding  of  the  rights  of  the  living  things.    Time  after  time  the  children  explained   that  the  animals  that  they  would  like  as  pets  need  family,  friends,  homes,  water  and  to  be  healthy.  The   way  the  children  could  feel  an  attachment  to  the  needs  of  the  creatures,  which  they  thought  were  so   in  tune  with  their  own  needs,  gives  me  hope  for  the  sustainability  of  the  Earth.  Once  the  emotions   have  been  aroused,  a  sense  of  the  beautiful,  a  feeling  of  sympathy,  pity  ,  admiration  or  love,  I  hope   that  the  children  will  search  for  more  knowledge  about  the  source  of  the  emotional  response  and  seek   to  take  care  of  it.   Pets have birthday parties. “A  cat  family,  mum  ,  dad,  baby,  big  sister  and   a  li5le  sister.  They  are  not  scared  together.   They  are  together.    They  are  not  scared.  They   like  to  play  together.”  (Aurelia) “Dog  family.  They  have  a  school  called  JIS  too.  They   have  bags.  Dogs  are  looking  through  the  window  and   they  can  see  different  dogs.  The  dogs  are  happy.  They   are  happy  because  they  are  in  school.  It’s  their  first   Fme  at  school.  They  have  their  own  water  bo5les.  They   are  happy.  They  are  not  scared.”  (JJ)
  8. 8. Wondering and wandering through non-fiction texts The  children  still  had  many   wonderings  so  we  looked  at   non-­‐fiction  books  to  try  to  find   out  more.   The  children  recorded   information  and  tried  to  use   several  different  texts  and  then   made  conclusions  about  what   they  had  learned.  This  focus  on   research  has  an  emphasis  on   gathering,  analysing,   synthesing  and  reflecting  on   information  gained.  The  child  is   the    inquirer  and    there  was  a   strong  focus  on  being  able  to   access  and  make  sense  of   information  from  various   sources.  This  inquiry  helped  to   develop  the    children’s  capacity   to  think  and  learn   independently  and  ultimately   to  be  able  to  inquire  for   themselves.  “  I  find  out  hamsters  have   babies.”  (Rena) “Rabbits  have  babies  too!”  (Clara) “Fish  need  fish  food  and  they   don’t  eat  our  food,  and  they   need  water.”  (Will) “Dogs,  you  have  to  name  them,   so  they  know  what  their  names   are  called.”  (Luis) “Fish  can  bite.”  (Hudson) “I  found  out  rabbits  eat  rabbit   food  and  carrots.”  (Nicole) “Hamsters  know  when  it  is   bedtime  and  morning  time  and   time  to  drink.”  (JJ) “There  are  fish  with  puffy   faces.”  (Liam) “Fish  need  water  and  small  food.   Sometimes  the  big  fish  eat  the   bread.”  (Yuta) “Hamsters,  some  are  white,   some  are  brown.”  (Aurelia) “Persian  cat  is  a  type  of   cat.”  (Rachel) “Hamsters  need  a  cage  and   tunnels,  things  to  crawl     through,  things  to  play  with,   spinny  things.”  (Peppa) “Hamsters,  if  the  water  gets   dirty  ,  you  need  to  change  it,  you   have  to  clean  it  every  morning,   that  will  be  tiring.”  (Audra)
  9. 9. The  children  offered  many  reasons  for  having  fish  for  a  class   pet.... • They  don’t  get    scared • They  are  not  loud • They  don’t  bite  you • Fish  do  entertain  you.  They  swim  around  and  we  watch   them • Fish  is  a  good  pet  because  they  can  entertain  you  and  show   you  how  to  swim  their  style • They  are  not  so  messy,  but  all  the  other  pets  do  messy   things  but  you  do  have  to  clean  the  water • We  have  to  remember  to  feed  them Finally we get some fish!
  10. 10. Fish! The  children  were  delighted   with  the  arrival  of  the  fish,  even   the  children  who  would  have   preferred  a  different  type  of   animal,  seemed  to  connect  with   the  fish.   “They  are  so  cute!”    (Audra) “Do  you  want  to  know  what  my   favourite  one  is?  It’s  that  small   one  with  the  stripe.”  (Luis) Keen  to  discuss  what  they  had   already  noticed,  we  had  a   meeting.   “My  fish  copied  me  when  I  did  a   trick  in  the  water.  Can  we  train   our  fish  to  do  tricks?  Like   jumping  up  in  the  air  and   splashing.”  (Audra) “I  saw  them,  they  were  confused   by  the  reflection.  Maybe  they   thought  it  was  a  friend  but  it  was   actually  them.”  (Jacob) “Maybe  they  can  spin  in  a   circle.”  (Hudson) “Jumping  like  a  dolphin.”  (Luis) “Maybe  if  they  can  jump  in  the   air,  close  to  each  other,  it  could   be  a  show.”  (Hudson) “I  saw  a  dolphin  show.  I  saw   them  jump  high  and  spin.”  (Luis) “I  see  a  dolphin  show  a  long  time   ago.  The  dolphin  touch  the  red   ball.”  (Yuta) “Maybe  fish  can  do   that?”  (Hudson) “Through  the  hoop  and  over  the   stick.”  (Yuta) “Fish  toys,  a  tiny  ball.”  (Luis) “We  need  a  hoop  for  the  fish.  If   you  want  the  fish  to  go  up  in  the   air  through  the  hoop.”  (Mahnoor) “If  they  don’t  have  a  toy,  it   won’t  be  so  much  fun.  The  big   ones  need  toys  and  the  small   ones  need  some  and  the  ones   that  sleep  a  lot.”  (Luis) “We  need  some  houses  for  the   fish.”  (Bogac0 “The  tank  is  the  house.”  (Jacob) “The  tank  is  not  the  house.  My   brother’s  fish  had  a  house  inside   the  tank.”  (Hudson) “We  can  make  some  toys  for  the   fish.”  (Audra) “Maybe  I  can  make  a  ball  in  the   art  room.” “One  time  I  made  a  house,  it  was   small,  maybe  I  can  bring  it  for   the  fish,  wood  and  sticks.”  (Jacob) “I  can  make  a  box  for  the   toys.”  (Bogac0 “If  it’s  a  clay  ball  it  might  hurt   the  fish.”  (Yuta) “Maybe  use  wire...”  (Audra)
  11. 11. It  seemed  to  be  of  great   importance  to  the  children  to   make  the  fish  tank  fun  for  the   fish.  Ideas  grew  about   playgrounds,  toys  and  houses   grew  in  the  discussions.  They   thought  of  many  things,   including  small  details,  such  as   how  a  fish  might  use  a  set  of   monkey  bars,  and  ways  to  make   the  tank  beautiful.  These  ideas   were  transferred  into  graphics.   “Swings.”  (Bogac) “The  fish  will  do  the  swings,  up   and  down.”  (Luis) “I  think  they  can’t  do  swings   because  they  are  normal   fish.”  (Bogac) “They  can  go  on  their   stomach.”  (Liam) “How  about  a  slide?”  (Bogac) “But  the  water  might  stop  them   from  sliding.  They  can’t  swim   down  the  slide.”  (Jacob) “Maybe  the  slide  could  be   opposite  of  the  normal   slide.”  (Yuta) “A  flying  fox!  They  can  swim  on   the  flying  fox.”  (Jacob) “Jumping  is  fun.”  (Bogac) “A  trampoline!”  (Jacob) “A  climbing  wall.  Climbing  on   their  bellies.”  (Hudson) “An  obstacle  course.  They  can  go   through  things.  They  can’t  climb   on  a  climbing  frame.”  (Jacob) “A  roller  coaster.”  (Bogac) “The  water  can  be  the  roller   coaster.”  (Hudson) “A  water  coaster...  no  a  fish   coaster!”  (Bogac) “Plants.”  (Seii) “Flowers.”  (Jacob)   “Fishy  bars  with  stairs  to  up  on   to  it  and  then  they  can  slide  on   it.”  (Liam) “Or  do  sports  like   bowling.”  (Jacob) The  children  began  to  construct   things  that  the  fish  would  enjoy.   They  were  so  thoughtful  about   how  the  fish  might  feel  and   tried  to  find  ways  to  help  the   fish  to  be  happy  in  their  new   home. “If I was a fish with all these ideas, I would be excited!”
  12. 12. Reflections We  had  many  conversations   about  pets  and  I  could  not   document  everything  here.  The   decision  to  have  fish  for  a  class   pet  was  grounded  in  research   and  was  a  democratic  decision.   The  children  have  travelled  far   on  their  journey  to  connect  with   nature.  The  ways  in  which  they   have  become  more  respectful   towards  animals  is  heart   warming.    This  project  has   provided  an  opportunity  to   create  empathy,  a  feeling  for   other  creatures  that  I  hope  can   develop  into  a  willingness  to   care  for  other  creatures  .   Through  research  and   wondering  they  have  a  shared   bank  of  knowledge  about  the   needs  of  living  things  which  also   has  an  emotional  connection   with  what  living  things  may   need  for  happiness.   Our  intent  from  the  beginning  of   this  year  was  to  help  the   children  to  understand  that  we   are  all  connected,  not  only  to   each  other  but  with  nature  as   well.  We  wanted  to  offer  the   children  opportunities  to  extend   their  perspective  of   togetherness. “True  education  flowers  at  the   point  when  delight  falls  in  love   with  responsibility.  If  you  love   something,  you  want  to  look   after  it.” Pullman  2005 We  can  not  expect  children  to   take  responsibility  for  the   natural  world  if  they  never  had  a   chance  of  experiencing  it  in   delightful  ways.   Without  direct  experience  ,  it  is   unlikely  that  children  will  acquire   a  deep  intuitive  understanding   of  the  natural  world,  which  is  the   foundation  of  sustainable   development.  If  we  are  to   safeguard  the  future  of  life  on   earth,  then  we  must  allow   children  to  develop  an  intimate   relationship  with  nature,  to   understand  but  more   importantly  to  feel  the   interconnectedness  of  all  living   things  and  to  see  their  own   place  in  the  world.   Learning Journey: Learning to Understand our EnvironmentLearning Journey: Learning to Understand our EnvironmentLearning Journey: Learning to Understand our Environment Enduring Understanding: All living things have needs which must be met in order to survive. Compelling Question: What makes a living thing, a living thing? Essential Questions: What is a living thing? How do living things survive? How do living things survive in different places? Concept: Survival References: Sue  Elliot  (Ed)  (2008).  The  outdoor  playspace  naturally  for  children  birth  to  five  years.    Pademelon  Press,  N.S.W,  2154 David  Sobel.  Beyond  Ecophobia:  Reclaiming  the  Heart  in  Nature  Education   David  Sobel  (2008)  Childhood  and  Nature:  Design  Principles  foe  Educators.  Stenhouse  publishers