To help offset the cost of proper animal ownership I have applied for a http://www.petsintheclassroom.org grant. If I receive the grant, I may receive up to $150 towards the set up and cost of the aquarium. This would be a tremendous help. On the grant application, I had to answer a few questions and I wanted to let you know this information, so I am posting it as the rest of this entry.
Pets in the Classroom Grant Application Questions:
The fish will be used in all parts or our classroom. Curriculum wise, we will use our fish in math, reading/language arts, and science. Another way we will be using the fish is in our "safe spot" within the classroom. Scientific research has shown the watching fish reduces blood pressure and stress. Out fish will be housed in this quiet corner of the room, where students can retreat when they need to take a breather and calm down. At this spot, there are tools (including the fish) to help the students calm down and work through their emotions, so that they can rejoin the class in a relaxed and open state of mind, ready to engage and learn. In other words, our fish will be instrumental in helping our students relax and learn to navigate, identify, and control their emotions and actions. The fish will also be used as a behavior incentive. Students who are improving their behavior may be rewarded with the opportunity to care for and feed the fish. The fish will also help our students learn responsibility as they take care of another living creature and provide for its needs.
My students love hands on, real life learning. With our fish tank and its occupants, we will have a real life example to use in our curriculum. During math, we can do: volume, measurement, estimation, perimeter, area, multiplication, division, and fractions (what fraction of the fish are greater than 1 inch in length) and (what is the ratio of fish to gallons of water) and we will be able to get up and move around taking the measurements. To promote literacy, we will have reading to the fish time, where reluctant readers are able to read to the fish, increasing reading fluency and confidence. Similar programs such as, Read to Rover, have experienced a great amount of success since animals are nonjudgmental and give a sense of friendship and love. Additionally, we can use our new fish as inspiration for countless writing activities, such as, "What does Mr. Fishy dream about when we leave at night?" and "If Mr. Fishy could talk, how would he describe our classroom?" Furthermore, our fish will be used as a springboard into reading informational text. Most literature sources in a classroom are non-fiction and fiction based, and statistically there is a lack of informational text. As an introduction to reading informational text, we will read care sheets, pet management books, information about fish and how to properly care for them. We can also use it for learning how to read brochures and diagrams (placing a new filter cartridge in the tank). Overall, our fish will be more than a purely decorative animal in our classroom; the fish we receive through this grant will be an active part of our everyday learning as a tool in our curriculum and our social and emotional development.
Over long weekends the betta fish will accompany me, the teacher, to my home in a large critter keeper tank. During the holidays the entire tank will accompany me home so that our betta fish can be well taken care of. I choose not to let students take the fish home because I cannot guarantee the safety or quality of care that the fish may receive at a student's house. As the teacher, I am ultimately responsible for the care and well being of our animals, and I want to make sure the animals are safe and well kept.