Light Up A Love of Learning with Awesome Animals!

Stuffed animals (and real ones), like Petey the Pug catch attention and can help children learn.

Awesome animals, including stuffed toys, like Petey the Pug, catch kids’ attention and light up a love of learning. Wouldn’t Petey love to meet Pig, the puppy who looks like its namesake?

Hi and welcome back to Attentionology for K – 5 Teachers!

Two recent news stories inspired me to revisit the amazing ability of animals to catch kids’ attention and motivate them to learn…

…learn about themselves and the world around them.

The first story features a dog named Pig.

This via an AP feature by Jay Reeves…

Pig is a pup – make that a mutt – who was born in Atlanta and now lives in Alabama.

Pig was born with what Reeves calls “severe deformities” that make the 8-month old canine look like a stuffed animal rather than a real dog.

What’s the learning connection for kids?

Reeves’ feature didn’t focus on learning specifically, but his writing prompted this idea:

Teachers can light up a love of learning about self, especially in children with disabilities, by introducing them to friendly 4-legged creatures that stand tall despite their difficulties and differences.

How has Pig fared so well with deformities that make her hop like a frog to stand on her feet, walk like a gorilla with high shoulders above her head, and spin her neck-less body to see from side to side?

Answer: Pig is of course unaware of her unusual physique, and most importantly, she has found her place in the world. As an Internet sensation, Pig even has her own Facebook page.

Pig is the pride of her owner, Kim Dillenbeck. Dillenbeck reported to Reeves that Pig got her name because she looked like “a little fuzzy piglet” when she was a puppy…

Cute, cute, cute…just like every child in the world in his or her own way; each child ready for opportunities, like meeting awesome animals, made possible by awesome teachers who know how to catch kids’ attention and light up a love of learning.

Lighting up a love of learning with awesome animals to motivate children is fun and functional.

Take your students on a bird adventure. Watch a delicate hummingbird suck nectar from a desert flower.

Take your students on a bird adventure via the Internet or a video. Watch a delicate hummingbird suck nectar from a desert flower.

Another online news story – this one about winged wonders – features a science blog.

Amber Veverka’s writing about “All About  Birds,”a blog overseen by Hugh Powell, caught my attention for its potential application with students in grades K – 5.

Powell is science editor at Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca, NY.

Veverka asked Powell if he has “seen the scientific literacy of the general public change when it comes to birds” (since “birding is one of the most popular hobbies” and bird studies are widely published).

Powell’s reply can be applied by K – 5 teachers looking for creative ways to light up a love of learning with awesome animals.

Powell noted a connection between watching birds and becoming more aware of the environment and the importance of good stewardship.

My thought…K – 5 teachers can take children on a birding adventure via the Internet or a video. The adventure could include encouraging children’s observations of how different birds need different places to live.

Powell answered a question related to scientific literacy from Veverka in a way that could open a discussion with fifth graders, for example:

He said, “People who love warblers and orioles, for example, learn about the conservation benefits of coffee brands grown on shady plantations that are labeled ‘bird-friendly’ because they provide sanctuary for migratory birds.”

Awesome animals offer all children a kind of sanctuary from the pressures of life today.

When kids get to spend time interacting with animals – real or life-like stuffed toys – they open their minds and hearts.

These pathways of discovery light up a love of learning about themselves and the world around them.

Remember, you don’t need to be a magician to work magic in any instructional setting!

Please send comments about how you use animals to help children learn.

Talk with you again soon,

Barbara ♥ The Lovable Poet


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Posted in Attentionology for K-5 Teachers
Barbara Cleary has been serving as a resource to hundreds of educators for more than 25 years. An award-winning writer, producer, teacher, and trainer, Barbara’s focus is on offering easy, fun tools and tricks that support K-5 curricula and assist teachers with classroom management.
Quick tips for common classroom conundrums: K-5
Situation: Students are acting sluggish in class.

Solution: Show "The BIG E," for ENERGY, an enlarged letter E (or other first letter for the word energy in your alphabet), available in craft stores. Remind the class that energy is a must-have item to get good work done. Tell the class to show you "The BIG E!"

Related Posts: Show Off "The Big E"