Sunday, June 7, 2015

Grab a Teachable Moment In Your Classroom...

Have you ever brought a pet to your classroom? I can't think of a better way to engage young children in learning. They will be full of questions and this provides an authentic opportunity to learn about an animal. It's a great way to take a break from your standard curriculum and have some fun.

My teaching partner brought in her leopard tortoise for the class to see and touch. They were speechless with happiness to see an animal up close. We seized the moment to explore the life cycle of this animal and just a little information about her.

We learned that a tortoise hibernates like a bear and Daisy had just started to move around to let her owners know she was awake and hungry! 

We talked about how you have to care for a pet and what to put in her habitat to keep her happy. We learned what a leopard tortoise needs in their environment and what they like to eat. Who knew hibiscus flowers were on their list of tasty treats! 

Students could gently touch her shell but we explained the need to wash your hands just to be safe. They loved watching her move around and were fascinated when she ate the dark leafy lettuces in her habitat. 

When we took her outside for recess she loved moving around the blacktop but when Mrs. Schurmer spoke to her gently she turned immediately and moved toward her voice. We were all amazed by this.

I loved listening to the children talk to this little creature in a gentle, loving way. Most of them do not have pets and home. They have never seen a reptile close up. They were filled with questions and natural curiosity about her.

We suggested learning more about this interesting creature and I promised them I would have some special activities to go along with learning about the leopard tortoise.

When we got back in the classroom we built a bubble map with information we already had about Daisy but as we learned more we added on describing words. We watched several short videos on the leopard tortoise and talked about our new learning.  We learned that this reptile often lives to be 100 years old! Amazing! 

Here are some of the materials I put together for the next day. We watched another video on You Tube and created a short Power Point with general information. It was just enough to hold the interest of a young child...

They loved reading this informational text and learning the word "herbivore." It was fun for them to do a simple report (we did it together) based on all that they had learned. Hands shot up and students could not wait to share what they knew.

Many students wanted to continue writing so I created this paper. I did a guided drawing lesson to teach students how to draw a tortoise so they could do this along with their writing. This was a huge hit with them. 

This is not part of my curriculum but it was well worth it to take a break and seize the moment to teach our class about caring for a pet and information on a tortoise. Next week she is bringing her gecko to school...

Do you have a class pet? I am thinking about getting one for next year since the children loved this so much. Any suggestions? Let me know if you want any of these materials. I can post them.


jbales said...

Hi Fran. Class pets are a bit of work, but wonderful to have. I get a baby, female, rat every year. They are sweet, love to be held, and do not bite. The reason I get a new one every year is because they only live about 2-3 years and it's super hard when they die in your classroom. I have always given the rat away to a student at the end of the year. Children love to take care of them over long weekends and vacations too. Good luck!
PS: Be sure to get a female- males are stinkier. :)
First Grade

Alisha Sela said...

Hi Fran,
I teach TK and we have a pet tortoise. He is very easy to care for and is a great class pet. I have been looking all summer for better ways to connect him with my students. I love the material you have created and would love a copy!! Thanks!!!