Dogs aren’t only a man’s best friend…

They are also best friends to pre-K students at United Inner City Services (UICS)!

The Animators classroom at UICS-Metro Center includes animal enthusiasts who recently expressed interest in exploring the lives of household pets.

“They were often pretending to be cats and dogs in the home living area.” shared Ms. Heather Peacock, UICS-Metro Center pre-k teacher.

“The pet study is a study in Creative Curriculum, so it was easy to follow their guide on how to incorporate pets into their learning.”

Creative Curriculum is a scientifically-based, research-tested philosophy that children learn best by doing and PLAYING!

UICS teachers create lesson plans and utilize resources that engage students through project-based exploratory learning. Not only does this innovative approach promote academic success and increase kindergarten readiness, it also encourages social-emotional development.

Our goal is to provide enriching educational opportunities to help our students become enthusiastic, independent, and inquisitive learners.

 “We saw that the students were so much more engaged in learning about something they were already interested in and exploring.” explained Ms. Heather.

Ms. Nicole Gunnels, who also teaches in the Animators classroom, partnered with Wayside Waifs, a local animal shelter, to offer students an interactive learning experience. An educator from Wayside Waifs led the students on a virtual tour of the shelter and answered their questions about pets.

Upon learning about pets and where they live, students created a safe space and home for animals. They enjoyed getting to design and decorate a house for animal toys and figures found in the classroom.

Learning how to care for a pet unified this class of little learners and strengthened their social-emotional development. In addition to learning about the life cycle of different household pets, like cats and dogs, this project also helped to instill themes of responsibility, empathy, and respect for life. The students learned that in addition to food, water, and exercise, pets thrive through social interaction and affection. Through our work, we know enriching our students’ social-emotional development also positively affects their academic potential and success.

To celebrate the final day of the pet study, Ms. Heather brought in a celebrity…. her dog, Lola! Lola was a hit and the students were thrilled to have a real pet in the classroom to culminate what they had been learning.

The pet study allowed the students to learn more about pets while offering the teachers an opportunity to create meaningful learning experiences. While the pet study lasted for six weeks, the impact will last much longer. And we are PAWS-itive the students loved this project and had fun learning!