"Children have an anxious concern for living beings, and therefore the satisfaction of this instinct fills them with delight. It is therefore easy to interest them in taking care of plants and especially of animals. Nothing awakens foresight in a small child, who lives as a rule for the passing moment and without care for the morrow, so much as this."
- Maria Montessori
Today we're heading outside to share our daily rabbit care routine. The rabbits we're showing you are New Zealand and New Zealand-California crosses. They're great for breeding and meat. These furry friends make wonderful pets and they also provide an opportunity for our kids to sharpen their Practical Life skills.
In this post, I'm going to walk you through how to take care of a rabbit in a home or homeschool environment with children ages 2-6.
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Low Maintenance Pets for Kids & Homeschool
- Guinea Pigs
- Hermit Crabs
There are even more choices than what I listed but these are the most popular for their friendliness and care requirements. Doing some research will help you decide what is best for your family and your homeschool.
We live on a farm in the Pacific Northwest, so there are a lot of wild animals around. Sometimes they're at the front door or on the back porch. It felt a little like Northern Exposure when we first moved in. Now, the wildlife are like part of the family. However, we're always mindful of our place in the food web and act accordingly.
So, all of that to say, don't just trap or bring home anything you can get your hands on. Do your research.
Why Include Pet Rabbit Care in Homeschool?
- Teach care and empathy for all living things
- Teach life skills that extend into adulthood
- Integrate Practical Life work with Science lessons including Biology, Ecology, etc.
- Bring joy to children and families
- Not limited in pet choices as you may be with a traditional classroom environment
Wondering How to Include Kids with Daily Rabbit Care?
We observe our children to determine where they are at developmentally and then we match the task to that level. I started out by modeling the routine for everyone. After some time, we slowly introduced different tasks at different times.
For example, our almost 2 y.o. can independently add hay to our rabbit hay feeder. He will continue adding hay, taking it out, and repeating the process over and over, concentrating on his work until he's satisfied. He's not quite ready to safely remove the water bottle from the hutch and fill it. Therefore, we reserve that task for an older child.
On the other hand, our oldest is able to accomplish almost everything related to the rabbit's care and she is interested in doing all of the tasks. More specifically, she wants to make sure they have food, water, and a nice clean environment. She really enjoys taking care of their needs and then playing with them afterward. As a result, she can assist her siblings with anything they need and then do additional tasks that they're not quite up for yet.
Our Daily Pet Rabbit Care Routine
1. Refill the Rabbits' Water Bottle
Our oldest will detach the water bottle from the hutch or cage and fill it with filtered water from the Berkey. Our 3 y.o. can also refill the bottle and is currently mastering detaching and reattaching it to the outside of the hutch.
2. Replace Fleece Bedding or Clean the Cage
When we had two rabbits sharing a hutch, they loved their fleece blankets. We changed them out every day to keep the rabbits' environment clean. We used old baby blankets and it was so sweet to be able to repurpose them as rabbit bedding.
If you use blankets, I would recommend sticking to fleece, as they're the safest for rabbits who like to chew and claw at items.
Now that we're breeding rabbits for meat, we've outgrown the hutch and have expanded to cages. Our goal has been to use the wire-pasture hybrid system outlined in Raising Pastured Rabbits for Meat and these Series 4000 Stacking Cages by KW Cages are the perfect solution for our needs. We opted for the small grid flooring to provide adequate support for young rabbit feet.
We're expecting a new litter any day now. We've placed a nesting box in the top cage and momma rabbit has been periodically shifting the hay around to make sure everything is just so when it's time.
It may appear a bit messy up top but momma knows best so we let her do her thing. Once her kits arrive and she's had some time with them, we'll go in and do a thorough cleaning. These cages clean up nicely and there's plenty of room.
The chicken tractor that was home to Biggie, the Bantam Silver Laced Wyandotte, is now available to use as a rabbit tractor. Biggie lives in a larger tractor now with the hens.
To transform a chicken tractor like this into a rabbit tractor, you'll need to add wire fencing to the bottom in order to prevent the rabbits from digging their way out from underneath the tractor.
3. Refill the Hay Feeder & Provide Pellets
We keep this hay bale off the ground and under a covered porch behind our garage. Our kids will grab the hay feeder from the hutch and walk it around to the hay bale to refill. There's a container on the ground to catch any extra and for our youngest daughter to practice her feeder-filling (and emptying) skills.
The type and amount of hay and pellets depends on the age of your rabbit, whether they're pregnant, and whether or not they're pastured. Young rabbits should be given alfalfa hay and pellets, while older non-pregnant rabbits should be given timothy hay and pellets.
4. Sweep the Area Around the Rabbits
We keep our children's rainbow broom hanging outside the back door. Our oldest two sweep the area around the rabbits after we finish our routine and anytime hay accumulates around the porch.
5. Pet Rabbit Play
Of course, the best part is to be able to play with them after we've completed their daily care routine.
6. Rabbit Care Includes Letting the Rabbits Explore
We like to give our rabbits plenty of room to explore and they never disappoint in bringing joy into our home. It's a great way for them to get the exercise they need after cuddling with the kids
Free Rabbit Sorting Activity and Daily Care Checklist
Grab your free rabbit sorting activity above. Kids can sort the cards into rows or columns using the heading cards: Small Pet Rabbits, Meat Rabbits, and Angora Rabbits. The colors of the cards provide a control of error so that kids can self-correct when completing this work independently.
These sorting cards also make excellent three-part cards for introducing vocabulary related to rabbit breeds. To use these as 3-part cards, simply print two copies of the printable and then cut the labels off the cards on one of the copies. Children can match the picture and then match the label as they show readiness.
Also included is a free daily rabbit care checklist. Kids can use this checklist as a guide when completing their rabbit care routine. There are extra spaces available to list additional tasks that may need to be completed for your pet rabbit.
Rabbit Books & Resources
Our kids fell in love with rabbits while nature journaling with Farm Anatomy.
Once we welcomed a couple of rabbits to our family, we added the 4-H Rabbit Curriculum Level 1: What's Hoppening to extend their learning.
There are a nice variety of activities in this book to ignite your child's interest in caring for rabbits.
If you decide you'd like to breed rabbits or start a rabbitry, I can't recommend this book enough. Raising Pastured Rabbits for Meat: An All-Natural, Humane, and Profitable Approach to Production on a Small Scale has been such a helpful resource and I'm glad I had it when we started the process.
Summary of Pet Rabbit Care for Kids
We give our kids a lot of opportunities for Practical Life work, and this is another example of how we do that. In addition to their daily routine, we also do a thorough cleaning of their environment a couple of times a week and rabbit grooming. It's an excellent way to teach care and empathy for living things.
We hope this gives you some inspiration for planning your Practical Life works this summer and for this upcoming year of homeschool. What pet(s) would you like to add to your home or homeschool?
More Montessori Animal Activities
- Nature's Headdresses
- Gardening: Empower Kids to Grow Their Own Food & Eat Healthy
- Outdoor Practical Life: Soil Composition Test & Sediment Jars
- Outdoor Practical Life: Soil Temp & DIY Soil pH Testing
Thanks for stopping by!
- Rabbit Water Bottle
- Hay Feeder
- Pellet Feeder
- Rabbit Cage or Hutch
- Fleece Bedding (for a hutch)
- Rainbow Broom
- Rabbit Tractor (for pastured rabbits)
- Nesting Box (for breeding)
- Rabbit Sorting Activity & Daily Care Checklist
- Farm Anatomy
- 4-H Rabbit Curriculum Level 1
- Raising Pastured Rabbits for Meat
- See Materials List
- Refill the rabbit water bottle.
- Replace the fleece bedding in a hutch or clean the cage.
- Refill the hay feeder and provide pellets to the rabbit(s).
- Sweep the area around the hutch or cage. Rabbits are sensitive to dust and need a tidy environment.
- Provide opportunities for your rabbit to play.
- Allow time for your rabbit to explore.
- Use Pet Rabbit Care Sorting Activity and Daily Care Checklist to extend the learning and encourage independence in your rabbit care routine.
- Extend the learning with the Farm Anatomy book and the 4-H Rabbit Curriculum Level 1: What's Hoppening.
- Explore the idea of raising rabbits with Raising Pastured Rabbits for Meat.