Life Science

Animals in the class

Hi! What is your take on having animals in the classroom? I am going into student teaching in the fall and hopefully getting a teaching position very soon thereafter and would love to have a classroom animal. Do students tend to do well with animals in the class or are they a source for distraction? 

Carolyn Siedelmann
Carolyn Siedelmann
570 Activity Points

My cooperating teacher has caterpillars in our classroom right now. They have not been a distraction to the students, because she puts them above these cabinets and they are out of sight whenever we are not doing science. She has told me that having the caterpillars for the life cycle unit has helped some of the second graders visually.

Charlotte Gutierrez
Charlotte Gutierrez
610 Activity Points

I have had fish, tadpoles and other animals in the classroom. They are a wonderful way to learn. I would encourage not keeping them out of sight because you're worried about distraction. Yes, you won't always want them front and center, but casual student observations are very valuable. They'll notice things that aren't necessary occurring just during science time.
Here is an NSTA blog post about animals in the classroom. http://nstacommunities.org/blog/2009/10/08/living-things-in-the-classroom/ I know there is also one somewhere from another NSTA publication about learning benefits to animals in the classroom, but I can't find it. Maybe someone else can direct you there.

Sarah Benton Feitlinger
Sarah Benton
1740 Activity Points

From my experience, animals do not have enough interest with the students to keep a consistent attention draw for much longer than the initial introduction of it. When they're given free time to interact with the animals, they're still interested, but not enough to stare at it during their work. My foremost experience was with a gecko, and none of the students really payed attention to it until we were allowed to take it out of the cage.

Adam Raabe
Adam Raabe
555 Activity Points

One of the teachers at my placement school had as a class pet a dragon bearded lizard. Yes, they were all excited but it helped them a lot when it come to the norms and expectations in the classroom. The teacher always had the dragon bearded lizard and it was not a really big distraction to the students. I want to say as long as you can hold the classroom together then a class pet should be a good idea.

Alma Andrade
Alma Andrade
760 Activity Points

I have seen the caterpillars with the butterfly cycle. As far as having a pet you need to make sure your school approves of it. I would get to know the students before getting a class pet. Some students will play with them or be too distracted. Some of our caterpillars died because students would touch them when the teacher was not in the classroom or they were not careful around them.

Virginia E Lopez
Virginia E Lopez
1125 Activity Points

I think that it is great to have animals in the classroom, especially when you can use them in a way to compliment the classwork. I have been in a classroom where the teacher has several animals in the classroom such as snakes and a tarantula. They are usually placed in the back corner of the classroom. The teacher would occasionally take one animal out at a time to show to the students. The students seemed to be very interested in the animals, but they did not seem to be distracted by them during class.

Gabriela Bravo Lopez
Gabriela Bravo Lopez
20 Activity Points

I haven't witnessed animals in the classroom at any of the schools I've observed or student taught at, but I remember having a class pet in elementary school. It was a really great experience and I feel that it brought joy to the classroom. Everyone got to take turns feeding the pet each day. I don't remember the class pet every being a cause of distraction for the class.

Chelsea Cook
Chelsea Cook
875 Activity Points

Having an animal in the classroom can be a wonderful experience for the students. The students will be able to observe the animals’ life cycle while in the classroom. If the animal can be somehow incorporated into the lesson, then this will help benefit the students since the animal will grab the students’ attention when it’s involved in the lesson. When I was in elementary school, we had caterpillars, and two hermit crabs. I remember none of the students would get distracted by the animals and the only time we would look at them at the beginning of the school day, at the end of the school day, when they needed to fed and when the teacher would talk about the animals. Animals can help provide the students with knowledge of the life cycle each animals goes through. We were fascinated when the caterpillars turned into butterflies. It would be a great learning experience for the students.

Edgar Juarez
Edgar Juarez
4225 Activity Points

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