The Bowmar Builders are an FLL team associated with Bowmar Elementary School. The purpose of this blog is to help other students interested in robotics to learn from what we have learned. As an FLL Robotics team we use the Lego EV3 robotics system and the Mindstorms graphical programming language.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Review of “Pets in the Classroom: The Difference They Can Make” by Ashlea Dancer

By: Mateo Byrd


In 2012 Ashlea Dancer wrote a Masters Thesis about the benefits and concerns of pets in the classroom.


There are many benefits to having pets in the classroom.

  • The students learn how to work together. The classroom has to communicate and work together to help the pet. (Meadan & Jegatheesan, 2010) 
  •  Having a pet creates a non-judgmental environment in which a student can talk freely. (Meadan & Jegatheesan, 2010) 
  • Students get an understanding of the needs of others. (Meadan & Jegatheesan, 2010; Brous, 2010). 
  • Students learn how to appropriately respond to the pet’s needs and behaviors. Students learn self-reliance and self-confidence. (Brous, 2010). 
  • Students learn to recognize the pets needs and take initiative to respond. Students will gain a sense of perspectives of others as they consider the feelings and situation of the pet. (Stone, 2010) 
  •  Students learn self-monitoring skills. (Brous, 2010) Self-monitoring skills are when students monitor themselves and people around them for correct behavior. Animals can have a calming effect on a child. (Burch, 2003) 
  • Pets can be used in the curriculum to make learning more fun. (Meadan & Jegatheesan, 2010) 
  • Pets benefit all students, including those with disabilities. (Brous, 2010; Stone, 2010)

Potential Concerns

The teacher should be the main caretaker. Make sure the pet doesn’t escape. Make sure the students aren't allergic. (Owens & Williams, 1995) “To be a humane role model you must (1) consistently provide all the care the pet needs, (2) establish a classroom code of humane treatment, and (3) remain vigilant in detecting and preventing students’ over-handling, mistreatment, or theft of the animal. (Humane Society, 2009)

Selecting an Appropriate Classroom Pet

School district and building policies control what teachers can do. Figure out all safety concerns such as:
  • Allergies 
  • In what situation it is prone to biting 
  • Age consideration 
    • No for kids under 5: (Meadan & Jegatheesan, 2010) Reptiles, Amphibians, Ducklings, Baby chicks, 
  • Salmonella considerations 
    • Hamsters,   Reptiles (including turtles) 
  •  No wild or exotic animals (even if found in pet stores) (Humane Society, 2009) For example: chinchillas, frogs, lizards, snakes, turtles Sleeping habits (Humane Society, 2009) 
  • Don't disturb nocturnal animals, For example: hamsters 
    • Rabbits are awake in the morning and evening and sleep during the day. (Humane Society, 2009) 
  • Need to Provide habitat 
  • Potential background noise during class

Pet Safety

Wear necessary protection and/or sanitary gear. Wash hands with soap and water before and after handling live specimen. (Edietis, Gray, Riggs, & Coffman, 2007, p. 37)

Pets in the Curriculum

Having a pet can open opportunities to help students want to read and write. There are many books on animals. You can get them to write stories with the animal included. (Meaden & Jegathesan, 2010)

Animal Assisted-Therapy

Several types of pets can be used in animal-assisted therapy. These include: Dogs, Cats, Horses, Farm Animals, and Small or Less Common Animals


There are many benefits to having a pet in the classroom. There are also concerns. You need the correct safety measures.

Potential Project Ideas and Research Questions

  • Do teachers understand the benefits of pets in the classroom? 
  • Would having pets in places inside the school but outside the classroom be beneficial? 
    • Principals office 
    • Entryway 
    • Cafeteria/ lunchroom 
    • Library 
    • Auditorium 
    • Hallways 
    • Office 
    • Nurse’s office 
    • Restroom 
    • Gym 
    • Science/ STEM lab 
    • Music room 
    • SPED room 
    • Art room 
    • Gifted room 
  •  What are the School district and building policies about pets in the classroom? 
  • Why the under-5 age restrictions? 
  • What habitat and food needs do common class pets have? 
  • What are some appropriate, common class pets?


Brous, M. T. (2010). Integrating Pet Therapy Into Daily School Life. Exceptional Parent, 40(5), 20-21.

 Burch, M. R. (2003). Wanted!: Animal Volunteers. New York: Howell Book House.

 Dancer, Ashlea, “Pets in the Classroom: The Difference They Can Make” (2012). Education Masters. Paper 252.

 Eidietis, L., Gray, S., Riggs, L., West, B., and Coffman, M. (2007). Goodbye Critter Jitters. Science and Children, 45(1), 37-41

 The Humane Society of the United States, (2009). “Is a Classroom Pet for You?”, Retrieved November 24, 2010 by the Author from

 Meadan, H. & Jegatheesan, B. (2010) Classroom Pets and Young Children: Supporting Early Development. Young Children 65(3), 70-77

Owens, R. & Williams, N., (1995). A New Breed of Teacher’s Pet. Instructor, 90(2), 48-51, 54-55 

Stone, B. (2010). Cockapoos in the Classroom: Providing Unique Learning Opportunities for Children With Autism. The Exceptional Parent, 40(5), 24-5.

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