We Adopted Pets! A Standards Based Unit on Pets

Hey Everyone!

I hope you are all having a great school year so far. This year has been a little hectic, crazy, and exhausting but I think as teachers we often forget that is what the beginning of the year is like EVERY year. I can't wait til we are smooth sailing with our routines/procedures and working a bit more independently than we are now here in first grade. However, it is currently FALL BREAK here which means I'm trying to catch up on life and get ahead on all things school, TPT, and on the blog. So I thought I'd jump on here and share with you a little about our unit that we are wrapping up when we return from break!

Our first unit has been all about animals and pets. So for the past few weeks my first graders have been learning about what animals need to live, who takes care of them, what careers work with them, and what services and tools those people provide and use.

I mean who doesn't love learning about animals and pets!?! Animals and pets can be a fun and exciting topic. So I turned our classroom into a mini pet palace while we learned about pets. I did NOT go all out for this. In fact, it was as simple as putting up a pet palace sign on our classroom door, putting two fake windows outide our door saying dogs, cats, birds and more, and setting up stuffed animals along our bench. When my students arrived to our room and saw the sign on our door they were very curious as to why the sign was on our door and were even more excited to see pets lined up and sitting together on our bench. Just these two small changes really got them excited to hear about what were going to be leanring about. Little did they know they'd later be adopting a pet for the next two weeks! ;) 

We started our unit by reading Arthur's Pet Business. This book was the perfect interactive read aloud because it was about Arthur wanting a pet dog but his parents telling him that he had to prove that he was responsible first.
While reading the story students really got to thinking about what does the word responsible mean? How did Arthur show he was responsible. We also used the illustrations and texts for clues about what the different pets needed to live. 

Here is the interactive read aloud page that I created, in case you'd like to use it too! 

After reading, I had my students think about what pet they would like to adopt and why! 
I gave my students 30 seconds of SILENT think time (no raised hands or noises!) to think about this question. When think time was up we used the Kagan Interview strategy and interviewed a friend to find out what pet they'd like and why!
The following day was PET ADOPTION DAY! For the pet adoption I used small stuffed animals that could actually be a pet. The crocodiles and dragons didn't make the cut! I didn't have enough animals for each of my students to adopt so I reached out to the teachers in my building and borrowed some. I know its easy for us to default to thinking that we have to go out and buy what we need for activities like these but really we need to remember to utilize eachother I mean in what other profession do you have goofy glasses, random dress up items, and other randomness lying around. Plus..let's be real.. we don't get paid a fortune to run out and buy things every time we want to add a fun twist or spin on a lesson/unit.

Here are some pictures of my students selecting their pet to adopt!
At the end of the day they each received a pet adoption certificate to show that they were responsible for their pet. 
Throughout the remainder of the week students filled out a graphic organizer about their adopted pet. They identified what their pet needed, what responsibilities they had as a pet owner, along with the type of shelter their pet needed. 
Throughout the day if students were on task and behaving they were allowed to keep their pet with them. However, if they were not following expectations they had to park their pet on our classroom bench. This was definitely motivation for some of my strugglers to stay on task and follow expectations. TEACHER WIN! 

At the end of the week, students worked in teams with students who had the same type of pet as theirs to create a shelter for their adopted pets. I was absolutely amazed at what they came up with for their shelters. The students told me what materials they needed in their team's design plan and I let them take it from there. 

The shelters were 100% their ideas and I absolutely loved the way they all turned out. The majority of them used shoe boxes, construction paper, crayons, scissors, glues, yarn, and streamers to create their shelters. They were so proud of how they came out it made my teacher heart explode. One of my students took her pet adoption so seriously she brought in dog food from home to put in her dogs' food bowl! How stinkin' cute is that?!? 

The following week all of our pets got SICK! Oh no!! But don't worry the vets were in the building and ready to make our pets feel better. 

We talked about the careers that take care of pets, the services they provide, and tools they need to do their job. I brought in some tools that I had handy at home like a dog brush, nail clippers, and shampoo and I had a parent send in some toy vet tools. It was really nice to have tools for the students to see and touch. 

We also heard from pet groomers and vets about their careers via videos from youtube. The students absolutely loved learning about these careers first hand. 

Learning about animals and pets was super fun. We'll be ending our unit with one of my favorite topics..... BATS! And then it is off to our next unit.. Community Helpers! Stay tuned for the magic that is going to be happening in room 402. 

If you're interested in checking out the resources I used for my pet unit you can find them in my TPT store. Click here to check them out!

And here is a sneak peek at what we will be doing during our community helpers unit. 

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