Goodbye Critter Jittersby: Stacey Gray, Leela Riggs, Bridgette West, Laura Eidietis, and Margaret Coffman

Journal ArticleDigital resources are stored online in your NSTA Library.

What invertebrates make the best classroom pets? How should we care for each invertebrate? What type of inquiry activities could invertebrates support? How do elementary students respond to invertebrates? These were the questions investigated in The Critter Project, a three-week project that aimed to help students conquer their “critter jitters” while developing inquiry skills. This project was conducted with preservice students, but the questions and investigations are appropriate for elementary students as well.

  • Elementary
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Reviews (4)
  • on Wed Feb 06, 2019 1:50 AM

This journal article is an excellent resource for implementing a lesson on animal behavior, habitats, and care. The experience was a part of a series of projects, which included the components of a habitat and the connections of each component in a habitat. I believe this would be a great way to engage students in a science project because the students will be caring for the animals as well as observing the animals first-hand. In this case, the students worked with a specific set of animals, mostly crustaceans and insects. However, this lesson can be bent to utilize any animal. The resource includes the worksheets the pre-service teachers used during their lesson and links to the resources used to research the topic. After this lesson, students will be more confident in their observations of animal behaviors and the inquiry process that comes along with any field of study within science.


  • on Mon Aug 15, 2011 4:08 PM

This article is about using invertebrates in a pre-service classroom but since the undergrads then went on to include the same creatures in their elementary lesson plans it provides a pretty good lesson. As a matter of fact - this unit is very similar to the FOSS Structures of Life lesson (without the plants and more diverse "critters"). This is a very good unit because it helps students of any age to consider the things that are necessary for any animal to survive and how the form of a creature fits its function in its environment. The internet links mostly work except some have new addresses and the one to the article website "Crazy Classroom Critters" is totally inactive. However the worksheets necessary are provided at the end of the article. Changes websites are Encyclopedia Smithsonian @ and the Missouri botanical gardens @

Tina Harris  (Fairmount, IN)
Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN)

  • on Tue Jun 14, 2016 9:59 PM

This resource is very informative and helpful. I initially thought it'd just be tips for integrating invertebrates into your classroom, and was pleasantly surprised to see the resources and lessons provided. I love the idea of having students teach a lesson about the chosen animal to younger students. I cannot wait to incorporate these activities into my 4th classroom next year.

Amanda B  (Richmond, TX)
Amanda B (Richmond, TX)

  • on Fri Sep 30, 2011 4:33 PM

Great ideas for using easy-to-obtain invertebrates in the classroom.Although one of the recommended sources is no longer available on the web, the article contains plenty of information regarding how to challenge students to learn about creatures and their specific habitat needs. Some teachers may have trouble providing all the supplies student groups may need to build habitats.

Patricia M  (Pottstown, PA)
Patricia M (Pottstown, PA)

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