I have had the idea of the Pet Project in my head for a year now. What put me into action was this book suggested by Mrs. Harapat, our Media/Tech teacher. It's title, "8 Class Pets + 1 Squirrel / by 1 dog = Chaos. I read this book to my Mini's and we laughed all the way through it. I kept thinking, wouldn't it be great to have a class pet in every room of a school. That got me thinking, it might be fun to have pets in my classroom. I explained this story to every class as they came in for the week. All 750 kids were excited to rent this book and read it. Mrs. Harapat says they can't keep the book on the shelves and she has 8 copies of it now. I love that this project oozed out of my classroom door and into other interests of life for my students.
There were a couple of motivators to this project. First, I wanted to connect with the parents of our school. I am always thinking of ways to get them into the art room. Second, I wanted to hook the students. Those of you who know me personally, know I'm not an animal person. I grew up on a farm and farm animals have a different purpose than pets. So I never have had an attachment to animals. That doesn't mean that I don't appreciate the relationship people have with their pets. I acknowledge that and know that getting animals into the classroom would be a 'hook' for my two mini's, so I would imagine that it would be for many of the kids at my school too.
One of the questions I received was from Lauralee Chambers about this project. I wanted to address that in this post as well. I sent out a message to all parents asking them to consider my request. I did this right before holiday break to give a lot of thinking time. The return of school in 2016, meant the start of pets in the Art Studio. I just shared a Google Slide for a sign-up sheet. It worked well. Click here to see a link to a copy of this Google Doc. I will say I didn't have all the time slots filled for each hour, but I had enough daily visiting animals in my room for the extended time, that it was still successful for the classes that had fewer pets. The ones that were filled up with pets however were a blast.