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Animals and Science in the Classroom

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Animals in the Classroom

Posted by Courtnye Jackson -


If there is one thing that induces excitement in students it's animals! Incorporating them into your curriculum can prove to be a novel and engaging learning experience for your students. Not only are small animals fun to watch they can also serve as responsibility 'gateways' for younger children as many times they can play the main role of care taker. Animals can also inspire compassion and in some cases a sense of calm such as that with 'aquarium therapy'. A study in the "Journal of Attention Disorders" found that children with ADHD concentrate better after a walk in the park rather than downtown or through a neighborhood. Researchers suggest adding natural elements including aquariums and indoor plants to school environments. The NSTA (National Science Teachers Association) supports the decision of science teachers and their school or school district to integrate live animals in the K-12 classroom. There is at least one topic in the Next Generation Science Standards for most grades that touches on plants or animals and their interdependent relationships in ecosystems. Educators are noticing the increased importance and benefits of having real-life, interactive learning experiences and the integration of plants and animals is an enriching way to do just that! There are many ways to incorporate animals into the learning process safely. Some key items to consider when bringing animals into the classroom are:

  • What are the curricular reason for bringing an animal into the classroom
  • Will the students help in the care and if so is there a written, visible schedule for them to follow?
  • Who will care for the animal during school closing and the weekends?
  • Students may be allergic to some animals, animals with fur usually incite the most allergic reactions whereas reptiles and insects are generally hypoallergenic
  • Be sure to obtain permission slips from all parents or guardians
  • Make sure the animals have comfortable & adequate living quarters. Research the amount of space needed, especially for growing animals
  • Animals are commitments that requires time from students and educators for their lifetime
  • Make sure animals are handled safely and gently at all time, post rules that are highly visible so that there are minimal injuries
  • Have a budget for such things as food, bedding, cage add-ons and vet bills if necessary. There are grants that support educators by providing husbandry items. One such website is:
  • There should always be an adult around when students are handling the animals



Next Generation Science Standards:

Topic Arrangements of the Next Generation Science Standards

Kuo, F.; Taylor, A. Journal of Attention Disorders, August 2008. Children With Attention Deficits Concentrate

Better After Walk in the Park

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