Educators and the schools employing them have a giant responsibility to their students. Not only do children need to learn subjects like reading, writing and math, but their experiences at school have a major role in forming their social skills and character development. One way for teachers to multitask by instructing their students on both social and academic aptitudes is to incorporate creative, canine-based courses into their classrooms.
And we’ve taken care of your homework for you! We’ve assembled a list of dog-related lesson plans and broken it down by grade level. Teachers who are looking for fun, unique ways to foster caring traits in their students – as well as make core subjects more engaging! – will have a doggone good time in the classroom by using these plans on their own or tying them into existing curriculum.
Let’s hit the barks, er…books!
Image via Flickr by Roiz Roiz
Grades K – 5
Teaching counting, memory and creativity skills during early elementary education can be fun for both teacher and student by incorporating our favorite pets into study time. Perfectly Preschool, an online resource for early educators, has a variety of learning and craft activities for preschoolers and kindergarteners.
PreK–8, an online community designed to share educator resources to elementary and middle school teachers, has many printable activities for teaching elementary school children about different kinds of pets. The website also outlines ideas for educating kids on how to care for their pet by adopting a classroom pet, or bringing pet visitors to school.
In honor of National Pet Week, which occurs in May of every year, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) created activities to honor the celebratory week. They are accessible and applicable all year, including lessons which help children identify wild versus domesticated animals, understand the importance of spaying or neutering pets, and learn about the technology that veterinarians use.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) offers a variety of courses for young children and pre-teens. Lessons cover topics such as interacting safely with dogs, the many roles of service animals, and canine-centric careers.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) aims to help teachers demonstrate to students the special relationship between people and their pets, as well as the many roles these animals play in the lives of humans. The curriculum is designed to be used on its own, or as a supplement to teachers’ existing course objectives.
Image via Flickr by Unsplash
Middle School and High School
On top of their elementary school courses, the AKC also has lesson plans for middle school students. There are detailed lesson plans covering three broader themes: Getting a Best Friend, Canine Legislation, and Careers. These plans also cover subjects including math, civics and language arts.
Discovery Education has many teacher resources available online. Their Dogs Class shows students how the many different breeds of dogs are unique with their own special characteristics, as well as how they are still related and connected to each other in many ways.
The Human Role in Dog Evolution lesson plan from National Geographic helps students understand the role of humans in the evolution of dogs. From their days as lone wolves to their modern day duty as man’s best friend, people have had a much bigger impact on this change than many people realize.
Image via Flickr by Margaret McMullen
K – 8 Lesson Plans from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)
The ASPCA has long been one of the country’s most trusted resources for protecting creatures both great and small from harm. In order to create a more well-informed society—and therefore help ensure animals never have to face dangerous, life-threatening situations in the first place—the organization has come up with its own group of education plans for children, with age-appropriate adjustments for each major topic for grades K – 8.
Animals Throughout History takes a creative approach to teaching students about some of history’s most famous critters.
Humane Heroes discusses the animal welfare icons that helped bring the compassionate treatment of animals into the international spotlight.
Pet Population informs students that controlling the pet population is an important step in keeping as many animals as possible safe, healthy and sheltered.
No matter what a student’s age, educating him or her on Dog Bite Prevention creates a safer environment for humans and animals alike.
Animal Shelters seeks to shed light on how animal shelters help animals, and how we can support their efforts in improving the lives of future pets.
Dogs, cats and other animals play important roles other than just being our pets. Animal-Assisted Interactions goes over some of the ways animals are changing lives through their compassionate care for humans.
Students who think they may have a future in working with animals will love learning about the many different kinds of Animal Careers that may await them.
Weather disasters impact thousands of families every year, including our four-legged family members. The Emergency Preparedness lesson plan will teach children how they can protect their pet in the event of an emergency.
There are many things we have in our homes that could potentially be harmful to our pets. Poison Control for Animals helps kids protect their pets from coming into contact with these substances, and teaches them what to do in the event of a poison emergency.
Image via Flickr by Mathias Appel
Modifiable Curriculum for All Grade Levels
In addition to their Pet Week programs, the AMVA offers a wide array of age-appropriate lesson plans for grades K-12. Ranging from printable coloring sheets for kindergarteners, courses in responsible pet ownership for elementary and middle school students, and veterinary exercises for high schoolers, the programs are designed to foster a sense of compassion for animals for students of all levels.
The Humane Society of the United States believes that an important part of education is character development. That’s why they created curriculum for all student levels, with a focus on instilling a respectful, nurturing attitude toward our furry (or feathery, or scaly…) friends.
The American Humane Association strives to educate those young and old on how to treat animals with kindness and sensitivity. Their collection of lesson plans teaches students many ways to build character through the study of pet care.
The Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA-Angell) includes pet care, wildlife, and humane animal treatment educational guides. They each incorporate other major school subjects, including health, history and biology.
Education World also celebrates National Pet Week by putting together a list of pet-themed lesson plans for every grade level. Students can challenge themselves by crafting an advertising campaign for an imaginary pet food company, and flex their creative muscles by recommending suitable pets for fictional pet store customers.
There are endless teaching styles for getting kids to think about the many ways our dogs and other pets make our lives more meaningful, and the importance of treating them with the kindness and respect they deserve. Being a pet owner involves so much more than finding a cute puppy to bring home. The sooner we teach our kids how to be responsible pet parents—and perhaps sneaking a little bit of core subject lessons in!—the better our pets and shelter animals will be for it.