When you think about classroom pets for your preschooler, you have to take into consideration the age of the children and the resiliency of the pet.
Let’s look at the reasons why and how these pets will benefit your classroom and students.
Hermit crabs are one of the best pets you can have in your preschool classroom. Just looking at these little, wonderful creatures, with their own houses strapped to their back will bring hours and hours of enjoyment for children.
Hermit crabs can be kept in aquariums, but make sure and provide plenty of things for them to climb on, and include things like shells as well. The aquarium should be big enough for a shallow dish of water and a food bowl— if you have smaller crabs, you may want to include a sponge or pebbles in the water dish for them to stand on. Also, a sponge helps provide a little humidity to their habitat as well.
One fun thing about hermit crabs is that they have their own personalities. Some are shy while others are adventurous. This makes identifying them a little easier and provides for some fun ideas as your students come up with names (Speedy, Slowpolk, Zippy).
We need to bring up shells in the aquarium once more. They’re great as a decoration, but they also serve an important purpose. As the hermit crab outgrows their current shell, they will need to transfer to a bigger shell. Their discarded shell then becomes “available” for the smaller up-and-coming crabs to snag for their new home.
As for food, a well-balanced hermit crab diet normally consists of: High-quality commercial hermit crab food. You can also feed your hermit crab vegetables (carrots, spinach, and romaine lettuce) and noncitrus fruits (mangoes, papaya and coconut) as treats. You can even add nuts, seaweed, brine shrimp and fish flakes as treats too.
One of the great things about Guinea Pigs is that the children are actually able to touch and hold them. Though you can hold Hermit Crabs, you will find that Guinea Pigs are much more cuddly.
Though they are cuddly, it’s important to make sure your students wash their hands before handling these furry little guys (or gals). Also, it’s important for your guinea pig to get checkups along the way to ensure they stay healthy.
Guinea Pigs are friendly and fairly forgiving. They are social animals and will thrive better in your classroom if paired with another same-sex companion.
It’s important to note that they do require a fair amount of room to roam, so make sure when setting up their living environment that you consider the more room the better, giving them a lot of freedom to move around.
Parenting your preschool guinea pig is a wonderful way to teach kids about empathy. Younger guinea pigs—three to four weeks old—do best in the preschool classroom, as they will get used to being held by your students from an early age.
Do note that they require daily attention, much the same as your students!
Every day, your Guinea Pigs will require Timothy hay (aka Timothy Grass), fresh water in a sipper styled bottle, chopped vegetables (green- and red-leaf lettuce, Romaine lettuce, cilantro, parsley, chicory, and various colored bell peppers), and a small amount of commercial guinea pig food.
Guinea Pigs also require a daily vitamin C supplement in tablet or liquid form, delivered directly in their mouths rather than in their water, as guinea pigs don’t make vitamin C on their own.
Betta fish, otherwise known as Siamese Fighting Fish, are native to Southeast Asia. Over time, they survived everything from delightful weather conditions to drought-like conditions.
The betta’s upturned mouths make them primarily surface feeders. They are used to eating a variety of bloodworms, brine shrimp, or daphnia. Though your best bet is to feed them a commercial pellet food to make sure they get the right amount of fiber and protein in their diet, along with extra vitamins and minerals.
Some benefits to having fish in your classroom are the calming effect they have as the children watch this beautiful fish swimming around, to allowing the children the opportunity to feed the fish (with a teacher’s/adult’s help of course) and watch them as they actively come to the top to get their meal.
Though these fish require very little room to survive, it is suggested that you put your Betta Fish in at least a two-gallon tank for optimum room and oxygen in the water.
A commonly known fact is that these fish do better on their own. They’re called “Fighting Fish” for a reason and should be kept solitary in their own tank.
Benefits of Pets in Your Classroom
- Keeping pets in your classroom helps in teaching responsibility.
- Keeping pets in your classroom helps to build empathy.
- Keeping pets in your classroom creates a bond from your students to the natural world.
- Keeping pets in your classroom builds respect for living creatures.
- Keeping pets in your classroom allows you to create fun and engaging additions to your lesson plans.
- Keeping pets in your classroom creates an atmosphere of enthusiasm from your children that can’t be beaten!