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Web Research Helps Students Choose Classroom Pets



  • Science
    --Life Sciences


  • 3-5

Brief Description

Students analyze several classrooms at their school, interview teachers, research pets, and make informed recommendations about which pet is right for each classroom.


Students will:

  • identify teachers' pet requirements.
  • research online a variety of classroom pets.
  • apply what they learned to choose the best pet for a specific classroom.
  • use their time wisely and work cooperatively with others.


pets, higher order thinking, web research

Materials Needed

  • pen and paper
  • Internet access on one or more student computers
  • projector or TV monitor on teacher computer (optional)

Lesson Plan

This lesson requires students to analyze several classrooms at their school, interview teachers, research pets, and make informed recommendations on which pet is right for each classroom. Instead of traditional animal reports ("This is what a hamster eats."), students synthesize and apply information to determine the best pet for a particular classroom.

Prior to the lesson, students should have some practice taking notes about what they read on the Web. They should be familiar with summarizing information and citing sources. You also should ask 5-7 additional teachers to help you with this project by allowing a small group of students into their classrooms for a look-around and being available for a five question survey.

Begin a classroom discussion by asking students who have pets to raise their hands. Then ask students who do not have pets for some of the reasons why they don't. (Be careful not to push anyone to disclose anything if they don't want to.) List those answers on the chalkboard. Reasons might include, "We're not home to let a dog out throughout the day" or "My dad is allergic" or "Mom's afraid we won't give a pet as much attention as it would need."

Share with students that those are some of the concerns that might prevent someone from owning a pet, or limit the type of pet they own. Ask them to imagine that they own their own business called ClassroomPets4You. This business helps teachers find the kind of pets best suited for different classrooms, or discover that they are better off without pets.

Next, go to Teachers Web Shelf's Hamster entry and read the information aloud. Using your mouse, highlight important facts about the hamster that might affect a teacher's decision to keep it in her or his classroom. Discuss those facts with the class. If you don't have a projector or TV monitor, print the hamster section and copy it for students to read along with you. That will help students visualize what kinds of facts they'll need to watch for in reading about pets. For example, hamsters, unlike fish, need fresh water and food daily, and can escape easily. Explain that a teacher who keeps a hamster will need to decide who feeds the hamster during holidays and how to keep the hamster from escaping.

After reading about hamsters, ask students to share the top five things they would ask a teacher who was interested in keeping a classroom pet. Questions might include, "Do you or any of your students have allergies?" "Do you want a pet that can be picked up and petted?" "What will happen to your pet during the summer?" "Where in your classroom would you keep a pet?" Ask student to write down the top five questions. (Help them decide which five are best.)

Ask students what they will look at in the classroom they visit. Is there a place for the pet that looks sunny? Too near the heater/air conditioner? Would the cage be too close to students' desks? Write down three things they should look for in the classroom.

Arrange students into 5-7 small groups of three to four students each, assign each group a classroom, and ask each group to appoint one student as note taker. Explain to students that they will visit the assigned classroom and speak to the teacher; then they will research pets on the Internet and decide which pet might be the best choice for that classroom. Each group then will return to your classroom and discuss what they saw, making some guesses as to what might be a good pet for that teacher to have. ("With Mrs. Johnson's fur allergy, I was thinking about a turtle, lizard, or fish. What do you think?")

Each group now will need computer time to research pets and make a final decision on the best pet. You can take the whole class to the lab, use laptops or tablets, or rotate groups on a classroom center (even one computer will work!). Send students to Classroom Pets and Animals Table of Contents and ask each group to spend 15 minutes looking through the entries. The goal is to find the pet they think would fit best with their assigned teacher's classroom.

Finally, have each group write its recommendation to the assigned teacher. The recommendation -- which can be as simple as a handwritten note -- would list group members' names, identify their choice for a pet for that classroom, and include 2-3 sentences explaining that choice. They also should list 2-3 pets that are not good choices (Explain that these pets also must be listed at the Web site visited, not animals like elephants or unicorns!), and write several sentences explaining why those would not be good choices. Each group then delivers its decision to the teacher, who will return the copy to you for grading.


Students will be graded on their ability to

  • manage their time and work in a group.
  • assess the pet requirements of a teacher and the teacher's classroom.
  • identify key characteristics of a specific species and use those characteristics to determine the pet that fits best with a teacher's classroom.

Lesson Plan Source

Education World

Submitted By

Lorrie Jackson

National Standards

NS.K-4.1 Science as Inquiry
NS.K-4.3 Life Science
GRADES 5 - 8
NS.5-8.1 Science as Inquiry
NS.5-8.3 Life Science