Classroom Pet

In this lesson, the children will make a list of possible pets and discuss responsibilities for a classroom pet.

Content Area:

Growth and Change

Learning Goals:

This lesson will help toddlers and preschoolers meet the following educational standards:

  • Understand that living things grow and change
  • Understand that living things rely on the environment and/or others to live and grow

Learning Targets:

After this lesson, toddlers and preschoolers should be more proficient at:

  • Observing, investigating, describing and categorizing living things
  • Showing an awareness of changes that occur in oneself and the environment
  • Describing and comparing the basic needs of living things
  • Showing respect for living things
toddler planting

Classroom Pet

Lesson plan for toddlers/preschoolers

Step 1: Gather materials.

  • Paper
  • Markers
  • Pet (based on decision)
  • Pet supplies (based on decision)

Note: Small parts pose a choking hazard and are not appropriate for children age five or under. Be sure to choose lesson materials that meet safety requirements.

Step 2: Introduce activity.

  1. During a large-group time, engage the children in a discussion about what they know about pets.
  2. Ask the children if they would like to get a pet for the classroom (or get another pet if the classroom already has a pet).
  3. Invite the children to share what they know about how to take care of a pet and what a pet would need to live in the classroom.
  4. Create a list of possible pets that would be appropriate for the classroom.
  5. Discuss the habitat that each of the possible pets would need to live in the classroom (such as a bowl or aquarium for a fish, a cage for a mouse, etc.).

Step 3: Engage children in lesson activities.

  1. Assemble the children in small groups and invite them to vote for the pet that they would like to have in the classroom.
  2. Invite the children to document their votes by writing their names on a piece of chart paper with columns for each pet option.
  3. Based on each child’s vote, invite the children to share what they would need to do to care for each pet. For example, if the children selected a fish, what would they need to do to care for the fish, such as feeding, changing the water and cleaning the fishbowl/aquarium.
  4. On a piece of chart paper for each pet, write down the responsibilities that children would share.
  5. Invite the children to compare the different responsibilities for the different pets.
  6. Later in the day, or the following day, invite the children to count all of the votes and decide which pet received the most votes.
  7. Create a shopping list for supplies and materials that will be needed for the pet.
  8. If possible, take a field trip to a pet store to purchase these items.

Step 4: Vocabulary.

  • Habitat: Where animals live
  • Compare: To identify the similarities or differences between two objects

Early Science Glossary

Step 5: Adapt lesson for toddlers or preschoolers.

Adapt Lesson for Toddlers
Toddlers may:
  • Not have the expressive vocabulary to participate in conversations about how to take care of pets
  • Have an emergent understanding of what pets are
Child care providers may:
  • Encourage the children to think about what they need during the day (food, clean clothes, etc.) to compare their needs to the needs of a pet
  • Create a list of potential pets ahead of time
Adapt Lesson for Preschoolers
Preschoolers may:
  • Be interested in going to a pet store before voting to ask a pet store worker about different animals
  • Make connections to pets they have at home and how they care for their pets
Child care providers may:
  • Visit a pet store as a class to gather information or invite a pet expert to the classroom to share their knowledge of pets
  • Invite the children to bring in photos of their pets at home

Suggested Books

  • Not Norman: A Goldfish Story by Kelly Bennett
  • Caring for Your Pets by Ann Owen
  • What Pet Should I Get by Dr. Suess
  • Some Pets by Angela Diterlizzi

Music and Movement

Outdoor Connections

  • Play I Spy outdoors during neighborhood walks or visits to the park and try to spot animals that can be seen

Web Resources

  • Explore pet store websites to look at potential pets and create shopping lists

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