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Class Pets (of the animal variety)

Discussion in 'Primary' started by acapel1, Jun 30, 2012.

  1. Has anyone here ever had a class pet? I'm just finishing my first year of teaching (Year 1) and in the last week have acquired a couple of three-legged froglets from our wildlife area which are now being housed in the classroom. The effect on the children has been remarkable - they bound into the classroom in the morning to check on the frogs and have been so motivated in their learning, a lot of which has been frog-related. The atmosphere in the class seems to have calmed considerably too, and frog-duties are proving a great incentive for good behaviour.

    All this is making me think a full-time class pet might be a good idea next year (though I haven't yet checked with the Head). I'd quite like to keep the tripod frogs if they continue to thrive, as there is so much learning you can get out of them. But, I need to get my head around the ethics of it - they are wild after all, and possibly in discomfort given their missing limbs. Frog care also looks quite complicated and involves live feeding which I guess might be upsetting for some children.

    Anyone have any experiences with class pets and/or suggestions? I'm thinking gerbils look a good option but I suppose allergies might be an issue and I would hate it if a child got bitten...
  2. We have had class pets in the reception, year 3/4 and year 5/6 class in my school. Reception have fish in a fish tank. Year 3/4 have had hamsters and gerbils and my class (Yr 5/6) have had a variety of hamsters, gerbils, mice, stick insects and woodlice! Gerbils are the best as they are easy to clean out, awake during the day, don't smell and rarely bite if handled regularly from the beginning. I send out letters to all the parents asking if anyone has allergies and then make sure those children don't handle them. I get them to do things like fill the water bottle, fetch the bag of hay etc so that they still feel included. Also send out a letter asking for volunteers to look after them at weekends and holidays then use it as a bribe to make the children behave so that they can have them for the weekend. We have a competition to name them when we get new ones. We also use them for all sorts of stimuli, like story writing, writing instructions, money work in maths - they have to cost the food, bedding etc and work out how much it costs to keep them for a week, month, year etc.
  3. Blimey, don't go for any kind of hamster/gerbil - they bite far too easily.
    We had three guinea pigs from a rescue centre - they were fab. Sadly two passed away in close succession (We weren't sure of their age) and only one remains. She is lovely, good-natured and happily sits with the children during story time. That said, I felt a little sad for her as we didn't have the time to dedicate to her really - cleaning her out was fairly simple but during a busy working day was a minor irritation! Holidays were a pain - my OH is quite strongly allergic to them or I would have them at my house, so she went to various children's houses - we decided during half term that we would let the child she had gone to visit keep her, as her parents loved her and she got far more attention there than she did at school. The noise is also an issue - ours didn't seem stressed, but she did spend the majority of the time in her little hut. I'm happier knowing she is now in a family home where they can give her the time she deserves.
    Don't rush into it - things like tadpoles/fish are fascinating for the children and also easy to keep, but as soon as you branch out into rodents etc it becomes a bigger issue and you need to think about the animals health too. Rabbits are FAR too easily stressed and rodents bite quite easily if unnerved. Thats why we went for guinea pigs and I still ended up being the only person who ever fed her or cleaned her out, and couldn't give her anywhere near as much fuss as I felt she needed.
    Kateray1 likes this.
  4. For the last year we have had a giantAfrican land snail in the classroom. Takes very little looking after, very safe and helped with our topic of giant bugs. Have to say it also had a postive effect on the children in learning and behaviour. One of their favourite things is to go and read a story to Poppy the snail.

    We got our snail from Ebay (I was concerned but seems travelling by post is fine for snails) and it lives in a plastic tank. As a bonus it stays at the school for the weekends.
  5. Funnily enough I've just been looking at the African land snail option and thinking it might be the way to go. I was a bit worried that the children might bore of it quickly so good to hear your positive experiences.

    I've enjoyed the frogs so much that I'm also thinking of fire bellied toads. The set up costs seem quite high but I wouldn't mind subsidising and taking them home in the holidays. They seem pretty low maintenance and fun to watch. Looks like I have my summer holiday project sorted anyway!
  6. Waterfin

    Waterfin New commenter

    I've also got African Land Snails and the children love them. As far as a class pet goes, they are extremely low maintanence, which is a plus as far as I am concerned. Someone on this site actually sent them to me for free through the post (thankyou again if you are reading) and my class as well as my daughter's class in her school have enjoyed having them.
  7. Hi
    instead of keeping animals you could try inviting an animal handling provider in. We do animal handling sessions with various exotic animals. We do workshops for nurseries and schools. Our website is www.animalmagic-parties.co.uk and we cover derbyshire, staffordshire and cheshire
    Kateray1 likes this.
  8. I inherited a fish tank with fish in my Year 5/6 class. Daily have to feed and turn on the light and then off again at end of the day - not a disaster if we forget any of these now and then. The filter an water heater are on 24/7.
    One of the children is really into fish so often provides advice about their care. This was great for him last year as he had just moved from China and whilst he speaks English well it provided an arena where he was an expert. (Small class, with five very able girls and two less able boys).
    We clean it out every two or so weeks by removing about a third of the water with a plastic tube (suck on the end). The tank is next to a sink which is handy. Fill it again remembering to add a few drops of chemicals to the water to neutralise any chemicals in it. Over the holidays I leave a gel food pellet in there for them.
    We have had several batches of babies which go in a smaller net enclosure that suction caps onto the inside wall of the tank. Some have died and been replaced. The babies all got eaten one holidays. Children not too upset.
    Kids love sitting in front of the tank during lunch time. about the only downside is there is no budget for the maintenance of fish so I buy the food, chemicals and replace the fish when they die. About 30 pounds worth last year.

  9. If you are enjoying frogs then consider African Dwarf Frogs. We have them in our Y1, Y3 and Y4 classes. They are totally aquatic and live in a small plastic fish tank. They are cheap to buy and maintain, very simple to care for. They do eat worms but we buy these frozen so no 'live' feeding. They can even be left for a week unattended over half terms with no problems. We only send them home for the long holidays. And most importantly they are very cute, really entertaining and the source of lots of learning in our class.
  10. fulloffun

    fulloffun New commenter

    In Reception we have a gold fish and a giant African land snail.The children love the snail and take turns in taking him home for the weekend..This particular class don't really have an interest in the fish.
    As a school we have an ex parent who is trainining a search and rescue dog and he brings her to assemblies (once a term)and the children are enjoying seeing her progress,the school council organised a fund raising day(non-uniform)for the search and rescue group.
    Another member of staff trains guide dogs and she will bring the dog in to visit the children and talk about what she is doing.We have sponsored a guide dog for the year and had a 'penny friday' when children were encouraged to bring in small change for the charity.
    We also have a greyhound rescue centre in the next village and a small group of children from year 6 spent time one term helping out there ( I think a session a week for half a term and they volunteered Saturday morning) they then did a fund raiser and assembly for the school.
    In the past too we have had a dog from the Dog Trust visit school for the day ,brilliant owner who talked to each class and explained what care the dog required and a little about the charity.My knitting club then made squares and we sewed them to make little dog blankets for the Trust.
    Once you start thinking there are so many ways of getting the children involved in care for animals and not having to have one in your class (we have a child in school who is allergic to feathers and fur)
    Oh yes the RSPB bird watch ,we take part in that and then continue making bird cakes and feeding the birds in the school grounds,
    sorry if its a babble
  11. Sillow

    Sillow Lead commenter

    I have a lizard in KS1. The children are fascinated with the idea of "live" food and it's given us a chance to talk about how animals eat and what is natural in the animal kingdom. I don't let them actually put the crickets in the cage, though, just in case there was a break out! Fortunately he tends to enjoy moving around in the afternoon, so the kids get to see him awake. When he's used to me I'm going to see if he'll let me hold him.
    When I was in Year 4 I remember we had terrapins. They were excellent and I loved being a monitor.
  12. MarilynDan

    MarilynDan New commenter

    My daughter had two guinea pigs when she was young and they used to go to school with me every day and come home at night - they had a proper hutch in the classroom (reception) and were very popular with the children. The guinea pigs liked the company too. [​IMG]
  13. Sillow

    Sillow Lead commenter

    I'm not too good with guinea pigs - I took the class one home when I was in Year 1 and it died (we think of shock when out cats got into my room by mistake). I was devastated and had to tell the whole class after the holiday. I've never forgotten that. [​IMG]
  14. traceybutler1

    traceybutler1 New commenter

    Hi can anyone help? we are doing a topic on snails when we return in September. Where can I buy the large African snails from.
  15. sparklepig2002

    sparklepig2002 Star commenter

    I know this is an old thread but please don't keep guinea pigs as school pets. They can be nervous creatures. Also, they are social animals and should never live alone.
    Kateray1 likes this.
  16. sunshineneeded

    sunshineneeded Star commenter

    This is a very old thread - I would check school and LA policies before having any permanent pets in the classroom. I remember the time when every class had pets - rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, mice, gerbils, African snails or stick insects! But that hasn't happened for several years now; I'm sure there are all sorts of H&S policies which strongly advise against it.
  17. ACOYEAR8

    ACOYEAR8 Star commenter

    Why not keep the 'pet' at home/undisclosed location and have a PETCAM which can be accessed 24hours. ?
    NoraGlover and Kateray1 like this.
  18. NoraGlover

    NoraGlover New commenter

    That's quite actually a good idea. I think that Petcam works exactly like a baby monitor cam. Though now I have simple IP-cameras at home they work a similar way.

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