- Compare human and animal needs by studying pets.
- Differentiate between wild and domestic.
- Understand that pets have lost most of their ability to care for themselves, especially in an urban environment.
- Learn about our responsibility to care for living things.
- Conduct research on proper pet care for an animal of their choice.
- Design and construct a new product for a pet based on pet care needs research.
Students can learn a lot about animal needs and behaviour by studying the pets around them and in doing so developing better knowledge and sense of responsibility for animals. The domestication of cats and dogs is an interesting topic and tells us a lot about the needs of those particular animals.
Curriculum Connection: Alberta Education Program of Studies
Grade 1: Needs of Animals and Plants
- Identify ways in which living things are valued; e.g., as part of a community of living things; as sources of food, clothing or shelter.
- Identify the requirements of animals to maintain life; i.e., air, food, water, shelter, space; and recognize that we must provide these for animals in our care.
- Construct objects and models of objects.
- Use a variety of different materials, construct model buildings; e.g., homes (human, animal, from other cultures), garages, schools.
- Select appropriate materials, such as papers, plastics, woods; and design and build objects, based on the following kinds of construction tasks.
Grade 3: Building with a Variety of Materials
- Use a variety of materials and techniques, design, construct and test structures that are intended to serve as models of particular living things, objects or buildings.
- Select appropriate materials for use in construction tasks, and explain the choice of materials. Students should demonstrate familiarity with a variety of materials, such as papers, woods, plastics, clay and metals.
- Select tools that are suitable to particular tasks and materials, and use them safely and effectively.
- Understand and use a variety of methods to join or fasten materials.
Grade 3: Animal Life Cycles
- Identify the food needs of at least one animal from each of the following groups: mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians, insects; and describe changes in how each animal obtains food through different stages of its life.
- Demonstrate awareness that animals require different habitats in order to meet their basic needs of food, water, shelter and space.
- Demonstrate knowledge of the needs of animals studied, and demonstrate skills for their care.
Our Similar Needs
These are activities that focus on having students realize that animals have needs, too, and they are not that different from ours.
Brainstorm the needs of people and animals and have students fill in Venn diagrams to see how similar our needs are, and that pets need more than just food.
To help students identify animal needs have them think of their daily activities of eating, washing, dressing, sleeping, using a bathroom, exercising, spending time with toys and friends. Then they can identify which needs are unique to certain animals, e.g. need to dig, need to go outdoors for bathroom trips, need to have shedding winter fur combed out.
Guide students to cover:
- regular routines
- exercise and play
- grooming(brushing and nail clipping, baths)
- I.D. (tag, tattoo or microchip)
- health care/visits to the vet
Students can do the same Venn diagram for vets and pediatricians to see how our medical needs are quite similar to those of animals. – see AVMA Venn diagram
Young students could draw pictures of things pets need.
Young students may also enjoy a version of Simon Says focusing on pet needs:
- “Everyone who likes to play with friends,…”
- “ Everyone who likes to sleep in a warm comfy bed,… ”
- “ Everyone who goes to the Dr. when they are sick,…”
- “ Everyone who needs food to keep them healthy,…”
- “ Everyone who likes to be left alone sometimes,…”
- “ Everyone who likes to live in a safe home,…”
- “ Everyone who likes to live in a clean house,…”
- “ Everyone who likes to not get yelled at when they do something wrong,…”
- “ Everyone who needs water to drink,…”
- “ Everyone who likes to be told they are loved, …”
This activity is based on Simon Says “Who Are You?” from www.education-world.com
On the safety issue, there are some fun cartoons in Who Let the Cats Out? Students can colour and fill in the thought bubbles. These could be good beginnings for creating stories. On a similar topic are some Kind Teacher Puzzles: The Great Indoors, Missing Cat Maze and a picture matching exercise called Staying Safe.
A set of discussion questions on pet needs from Best Friends has been adapted for your use.
Use the ASPCA pet need cards to have students find a partner to match human and pet needs.
Secret Sacks: Make up one large or several small sacks filled with things animals might need. Have students feel through the sack to guess what the items might be. Depending on age of students, tell what they think the item is or write it down. Then pull out items and discuss or have each group pick an object to explain and try to improve.
Some things to include:
- Pet identification tag
- Small piece of carpet for a scratching post
- Bottle of pet shampoo
- One dog biscuit
- A few coins (to represent that we need money to cover pet costs)
- Small, heart-shaped object for love
- Pet license
- Squeaky toy
- Dry pet food
- Water bottle
- "People" shapes cut out of cardboard
- Pet brush
- Some cat litter
- Picture of a doghouse
The sack could also include some things dangerous for pets e.g. houseplants, chocolate, grapes, glass, pill bottle, chicken bones, matches, electrical cords.
There is a simple set of pictures of some of these hazards for students.
Domestic or Wild
Help students understand the difference between domestic and wild by asking them to give examples. Use the wild or domestic cards to have students find a partner who is their wild or domestic counterpart.
Help students identify the differences between wild and domestic animals:
- where do they live?
- do they rely on humans for food, water and shelter?
- could a domestic animal survive on its own for long?
Can students guess why animals were domesticated?
- clothing(skins, fur)
Use their answers to further categorize domestic into farm and companion animals. Use the Alberta SPCA Where do I Belong exercise to put pictures of animals in the right category.
Students might not guess why cats were domesticated. Read the History of Cats out loud and have students do the accompanying exercise to differentiate between domestic and wild cats. Or students can read the simpler version, Cats and People.
The Little Prince
(Lesson idea from Alberta SPCA)
Read The Little Prince or excerpts from it that describe the prince’s relationship with his sheep and his rose bush. You may want to read the entire book, one chapter at a time, or just read the pertinent sections.
How does the little prince care for his sheep? What does he mean when he says his rose has tamed him?
Emphasize the point that once you have tamed something, you are responsible for it.
Making a Tool or Model
The focus of this activity is to have students research the needs of a specific pet of their choice and then design and make a tool to make life better for that pet. They should identify a specific problem, e.g., a water bowl that is always empty, a dog that is lonely all day, a rabbit that needs exercise. Then design something to solve the problems, e.g., a special water bowl, exercise area, etc. If students select a dog, they should select a breed or size of a dog as different dog breeds and sizes require different care.
They could also invent a new tool for vets or toy for pets.
They could make a diorama of an ideal home for a pet of their choice using plastercine,, wool, toothpicks, material scarps etc to show all the things the pet will need. Use a shoebox.
- Proper care of their pet
- The problem they identified
- The design of the product and how it helps to solve their problem.
As a follow-up students could create an advertisement to try and sell their product, highlighting how this will help the pet and the owner.