A Pets Theme is fun! Also, pets are fun at home and at school, but they also come with a lot of responsibility! Take your preschoolers love and fascination of pets as an opportunity to teach!
This theme will help you to teach them what is involved in choosing and caring for a pet! This Pets Theme page is filled with some preschool activities and ideas for your classroom.
You can scroll down through this page to see all of the preschool activities for your theme.
You can also click the link below to go to specific preschool activity types you are looking for.
Have fun, enjoy your preschool lesson planning!
If you become tempted to get a classroom pet, you might want to read my article on what to consider first!
Some classroom pets are higher maintenance than others!
Materials Needed: Precut shapes in different colors, googly eyes, glue, construction paper
Encourage the children to use the precut shapes to make the shape of a pet on their large piece of construction paper. They glue the pieces on along with googly eyes.
Be sure to write down their story about their pet as well!
Rainbow Fish Pet
Materials Needed: Bright paint colors (watercolor paint is perfect!), paper, brushes, googly eyes, glue and one small piece of aluminum foil per child.
After reading Rainbow Fish, the children make their own, complete with a shiny scale!
Birds of a Feather
Materials Needed: Discarded CD's or DVD's, glue, feathers, googly eyes, string to hang the CD's with.
The children can cover both sides of the CD with feathers, add eyes and hang from the ceiling! I recomend using craft glue rather than regular school glue.
Pets Theme Puppets
Materials Needed: small lunch paper bags (white or brown), markers, googly eyes, glue, yarn
The children create a pet face on the bottom of the bag and decorate the rest of the bag as the bodies.
Show them how to use the bags as puppets.
Create A Pet
Materials Needed: Recycled boxes and containers, glue, yarn, scraps of miscellaneous art/craft supplies, glue, googly eyes!
Let the children create their own crazy pet!
Pets Theme Collage
In advance, cut out pet shapes from large paper (24" X 24" or larger)--include dogs, cats, etc.
Hang these on the wall at the children's level (I recommend taping a very large piece of paper or thin tablecloth to the wall first!).
Provide markers, crayons and colored pencils for the children to color and design their pets over the week or so of this theme.
Create a Pets Theme Area
Add stuffed animals or plastic animals to your block area. The children can create pet stores, pet habitats, or any other pets theme places they can think of!
Circle Time is such a great time for children to learn the social skills of being together as a large group AND to learn more about your theme!
Pet Care Puppet Show
Bring a puppet or two to circle time. I'd suggest a cat, a dog and a fish.
Have the puppets talk to the children about what people need to do to keep their pets healthy and safe.
"I'm a dog. If I bark at the door, what do you think I need? What else do dogs need?"
Do You Have A Pet
Ask the children what types of animals would make a good pet. List all their responses. List the children who have a pet. Remember that not all children have a pet and may feel left out if the discussion is ONLY about who DOES have a pet! I've listed who has a pet and what type of pet and then listed what type of pet each child would have if they chose one! We had some fun choices such as dinosaurs, sharks that would live in the bathtub, etc.!
I'm thinking of a pet....
This is an I-spy type of guessing game!
I'm thinking of a pet that has 4 legs, ears, and barks (or an moos!), etc.
Stuffed Pet Day
In advance, set a day for the children to bring in their favorite stuffed pet.
At circle time, each child tells their friends what type of pet they brought in and something their pet likes to "do" with them.
Write down their stories and make it into a class book. If possible, take a picture of each child with their stuffed pet to add to the class book!
EXTENSION: Have them write a story about their pet at the writing table!
Who Makes That Sound?
Bring a recording of different animal sounds (either you can record the sounds on a tape with pauses in between or ask a parent or group of parents to collaborate on this project!).
Play the sound and pause the tape as the children guess the animal.
VARIATION: There are many CD's available with animal sounds on them. You could also use one of those "See and Say" toys!
Nursery Rhyme Time
Teach the children nursery rhymes and songs about pets such as:
Old Mother Hubbard
Mary Had A Little Lamb
Little Bo Peep
Where oh Where has My Little Dog Gone?
How Much is that Doggie in the window?
Cooking with children helps develop their math skills and helps them to learn how to follow directions. It also allows for some great conversation! Ask many questions while cooking with your children to encourage conversation! Be sure to ask specific themed questions while making these fun snacks!
This recipe is for Purple Cow shakes, but let's call them Purple Pet Shakes this week!
Ingredients and Items needed: 2 six ounce cans of frozen grape juice (concentrate); 2 cups of milk; 4 cups of frozen vanilla yogurt; blender
This recipe makes enough for 16-20 children.
Be sure to let the children help put ingredients in the blender. You can do this by separating the ingredients so that each child adds one part of the ingredient list into the blender.
Once all the ingredients are in the blender, blend on high speed for about 30 seconds. Enjoy!
If you have a large group, split the ingredient list in half and make the recipe twice, once with each smaller group of children.
Provide a table with stuffed animals, cash registers, boxes to carry "pets" in, play money.
Provide stuffed animals, bandages, doctor kits, large white shirts (for doctor coats), clipboards and crayons
More Than Just Painting (Although that is always THE favorite in our classroom!)
Pet Sponge Painting
Provide small sponges in pet shapes with clothes pins to hold them with for the children to sponge paint a pet scene.
Find the Feather!
Hide a feather in the classroom or outside for the children to find! Or, hide a stuffed animal! The children will LOVE playing Hide and Seek!
Duck, Duck, Goose
Teach your children how to play this if they don't already know. Try changing the words to pet words such as:
Bird, bird, cat
Cat, cat, dog
Mouse, mouse, cat
If you have a large appliance box, let the children help you decorate it and turn it into a pet house.
Provide stuffed animals and use this inside or outside! The children can take their pets for walks, runs, etc. and then place them in the house to rest (of course, the children will want to be in the house with their pets!).
Move Like THIS Pet!
Have the children move like specific animals, sounds and all: Cat, dog, fish, bird, etc.
THIS CD is my ABSOLUTE favorite for this theme! There are 2 tracks about Animal Actions.
The kids would play this every day at Circle Time, Gross Motor Time or just as a great transition throughout the day!
I highly recommend it! Click the picture to the right to check it out!
Pet Treat Toss
Use bean bags and a large bowl that looks like a pet food bowl!
The children toss the treats into the bowl.
VARIATION: Use a large box as a "Pet House" and toss stuffed animals into the house!
Follow The Leader
Each child has a turn leading the line of their friends. They act like one animal (perhaps barking, trotting like a horse, etc.) and the others follow and copy that child.
That child then goes to the back and the next child is the leader.
Book Suggestions for the Library
Many of the following books are available at your local library. You can also click on the title links to see what Amazon has available.Arthur's Pet Business (An Arthur Adventure) by Marc Brown
LOTS of NON-FICTION pet books!
Materials: Playdough, pet shaped cookie cutters
Help your children develop their hand muscles by manipulating playdough to make their own pets! Encourage them to create their own rather than using cookie cutters.
VARIATION: Provide modeling clay rather than playdough for more muscle development! We've had some GREAT snake pets from clay!
In advance, laminate pairs of cards or papers with pet stickers on them. The children can match the cards, sort them by type of pet or count them!
I saw this as a bulletin board but think it would make a great math center activity!
Cut out 20 fish bowl shapes.
On one set of them list the number word "one" and one dot. Continue for 2-10.
On the second set of fish bowl shapes, cut the tops to look like wavy water and draw fish on them (1-10)
The children match the fish "in the water" to the correct fish bowl.
I think you could also program the backs of the fish in water pieces to have the number word "one" and a dot (repeating 1-10) so the children have 2 ways to use this.
Be sure to laminate before use for long term use!
EXTENSION: Give the children a bowl of goldfish crackers to use to place on the dots or the drawn fish!
Help the children develop their hand muscles with this activity!
In advance, add several drops of food coloring to a bottle of glue. Shake the bottles to mix the color throughout the bottle. Repeat this to have many different colors.
Encourage the children to squeeze the bottles to make outlines of animals.
For older children, provide paper with pet shapes pre-drawn on them and encourage the children to try to squeeze the glue onto the outline.
EXTENSION: Provide craft materials (yarn, fabric, etc.) for them to decorate with.
NOTE: Most of the children will just want to squeeze the colored glue out to explore and paint with it! Remember: The goal is not to "make a pet" but to develop their hand muscles!
Dog or Pet House
Materials needed: small box, magazines, scissors, glue
Encourage the children to cut out pictures of pets from magazines and glue them onto a box for a pet house. Each day, place a different stuffed animal pet in the box as a point of discussion on pet care (How do we take care of a fish? A cat? etc.)
VARIATION: If you have enough boxes, each child can make their own!
This has got to be my FAVORITE animal movement activity! Animal Action part 1 and part 2 are on the Greg and Steve CD called Kids in Motion. It will become your children's FAVORITE Cd in no time! (Click the link to the right to check it out!)
There was a farmer who had a dog and Bingo was his name-o!
1,2,3,4,5 Once I caught a fish alive.
6,7,8,9,10 Then I let him go again.
Why did you let him go? Because he bit my finger so.
Which finger did he bite? This little pinkie on my right!
This Old Man
Act this one out!
This old man, he played one (hold up one finger)
He played knick-knack on my thumb (hold up thumb)
With a knick-knack paddy-whack (slap knees and clap hands)
Give the dog a bone (pretend to throw a bone or pat a dog)
The old man when rolling home (roll hands)
This old man, he played two--he played knick knack on my shoe....
He played three...on my knee
He played four...on my door
He played five...on my hive
Where is My Bone?
Hide dog bones in your sand table! Provide bowls, tongs, spoons and ice cube trays!
Bird Nesting Cups
In advance, hole punch a hole on each side of a paper cup near the top.
Have the children help to lace string through the holes to make a hangar from the string.
In the sensory table, place fabric, lint from the clothes dryer, yarn and scissors. Encourage the children to cut the fabric and lint and place it in their cups. They can hang the cup outside near their home for birds to take the pieces to make a nest with.
Add plastic fish and small fish nets to the water table along with cups. The children try to catch one fish at a time with the net and place it in a cup.
Materials Needed: A discarded bird's nest from outside! Add magnifying glasses and non fiction books about birds and nests.
Materials: Ok, ok, I KNOW this is a stretch for me! However, I have talked to many preschool teachers who LOVE their "hissers" as pets! The cages only need to be cleaned a few times a year; they eat fruit; and the do actually hiss (when scared, they release air from their abdomins to flatten their bodies and to warn off predators). They do not bite and do not move around very fast so the kids can actually...gulp...hold them!
I must admit I've never had one as a pet, but I'll tell you---teachers who have them LOVE them! Just a thought!
REAL Hissing Cockroaches!
Display different types of dry pet food at your science table and laminated pictures of the pets that eat each food.
Include: hay (guinea pigs), cat food, dog food, fish food, etc.
The children can feel, smell, compare, etc. and then match the picture to the food.
My Pet _______
Materials Needed: Just paper and writing tools (markers, crayons, pencils).
Have the children draw a picture of the type of pet they would like to have (see the Do You Have A Pet Circle time activity!). As they draw, ask questions such as:
Where would your ________ sleep? What would it eat? What would it like to do to play?
Record the questions and answers on a separate paper with their name and attach it to their picture!
EXTENSION: Put all the pages together to make a class book!
Materials Needed: magazines, scissors, glue, markers, large paper
As children come to the writing table, encourage them to draw or write about pets on the paper or to find, cut and glue pictures from the magazines onto the collage paper.
Visit a Pet Store
Call around to different pet stores to plan a visit with the children. When you return, discuss and make a list of all the pets you saw: mice, hamsters, fish, dogs, cats, reptiles, etc.