When I do my Pet theme (with 16-24 months old) I always bring in minnows for the children to watch. I put them in a large, flat, clear storage container with only about an inch of water. Since it is a large container the children can all see from the top at the same time. I remind them not to touch the water. They love watching the minnows swimming all around. I usually purchase about 30 minnows. After two days of our class watching the fish and other classes watching them, I take them home for our big Oscar fish to eat them for dinner.
Take a field trip to your local Humane Society or animal shelter. Ask the center if there is something you could donate that the children could bring from home. (Ours asks for donations of old towels for the animals.) Some parents have returned and adopted pets after this trip!
For a cute dog, trace student’s foot (in shoes or stocking feet is best) on brown, black or white paper. Have them cut the shape out (if they’re developmentally ready for that!) or you can do it for them…then have different ear shapes–long and floppy or short and pointy, etc.–on the table for them to glue on their dog. Then the children may add wiggly eyes and black pompom noses.
Go to your local pet store and buy a large bag of bird seed. Dump the bag into your sand and water table. You can add anything to pour and shovel bird seed with in the sand and water table. Or you can also add little birds. (Found in a floral dept.) Get ready for the children to spend a great deal of time in this area!!
The first week of May is National Pet Week. We celebrate by taking a field trip to the near by Pet Store. We purchase new fish for our classroom tank. We vote on a name for it. We also make Pet rocks so we can all have a pet, we go outside and go on a walk each child finds their own rock then we take it in and paint it and decorate it with feathers and wiggle eye. We name them Too!
We set up a pet store in our family center complete with home made kennels and boxes for the students to sell. The following week we got out the doctor play and had a vet clinic!
“PAWS For Reading” To encourage reading at home, I made a large poster with a dog bowl-shaped pocket on it for each child. I used colorful bone cut-outs to make a border and put the heading “PAWS for Reading” at the top of the poster. Then I sent home a note explaining that any time they read a book at home with their child, they should write the title of the book on a paper bone (provided) and let their child put it in her dog bowl the next day. I also told them that when we fill our bowls with 250 bones (we have a class of 22 children), we will have a pizza party for all of the children and families that participated. So far, the response has been wonderful! I can hardly keep the families supplied with bones!! : D