Yes. There Are Now Grants For Classroom Pets.

When I was in the first grade, our classroom got chickens. I don’t mean large chickens, pecking their way around the classroom eating crayons and shoelaces, but baby chickens: we had an incubator to help hatch the eggs, and then cared for the chicks once they had hatched.

Granted, first grade was a looong time ago for me, but I definitely remember this experience, probably more than almost anything else from elementary school. I remember that one of the chicks died almost immediately. Another – whom we named Fighter – was quite sickly, but managed to hang on for a week or two. He lived in the nurse’s office during the day and we visited him there as a class. Students would each get to take home a chick for one night, until they reached a certain age and then headed off to live on a local farm. Of course, when it was finally my turn to bring a chick home, I was assigned Fighter and obviously (didn’t you see this coming) he died at some point while he was in my care. Oh, the trauma of being a first grader.

A Grant For A Pet in Your Classroom

Aside from the obvious life lesson, there were a lot of learning opportunities for a classroom of first graders: science, animal care, empathy, respect, and responsibility. PetsintheClassroom is a group that offers grants and resources for teachers who wish to bring pets into their classrooms. Today marks the first day that teachers can apply for a grant for the 2014-15 school year.

grant

The grants offer several different options, including:

  • Rebate Grant in the amounts of $75 (for small animal or birds) or $125 (for reptiles or fish) for purchases at any pet store;
  • Sustaining Grant in the amount of $50 to maintain an existing classroom pet;
  • Petco Grant, which provides coupons for the live animal, pet habitat and supplies purchased at Petco;
  • Petsmart Grant, which provides coupons for the live animal, pet habitat and supplies purchased at Petsmart;
  • Pet Supermarket Grant, which provides coupons for live animal and pet supplies purchased at Pet Supermarket;
  • Pet Supplies Plus Grant, which provides coupons for live animal and supplies purchased at Pet Supplies Plus Stores;
  • Petland Grant, which provides coupons for live animal and supplies purchased at Petland Stores, and
  • Petland Discounts Grant, which provides coupons for live animal and supplies purchased at Petland Discounts Stores.

To Pet or Not To Pet

Small pets – cute and furry or otherwise, are a popular choice for classrooms. But while they can offer many positive lessons and interactions for your students, having a pet in your classroom may not be all it is cracked up to be. Loud, busy classroom situations may be stressful to small animals, and depending on the age of your students, rough handling may be a problem – even if it is an accident and/or doesn’t happen regularly. Providing a healthy environment and adequate veterinary care for the animal is also something to consider, and can be difficult for classroom situations.

If You Can’t Have a Live Pet

If you end up deciding that having a live pet in your classroom isn’t a great idea, there are still ways to bring knowledge of animals, animal care, and associated sciences into your classroom. The Humane Society has some great recommendations, including:

  • Bringing an animal expert into your classroom (either in person or via Skype/Google Hangout, etc
  • Work with a local animal shelter to find a homeless pet a forever family
  • “Adopt” a stuffed class pet
  • Check out online animal webcams (many zoos and wildlife parks offer them)
  • Take a field trip (in person or virtual) to a nature center or similar location
  • Read to dogs
  • Set up a schoolyard habitat for birds

 

1 Comment

  1. Donna Apanasewicz

    August 12, 2014 at 2:04 pm

    Please place me on an email list for future educational opportunities.
    Thank you.